Not too long ago, the Standard Chartered Jumpstart (SCJ) account was the best fuss-free, no-frills, high-interest savings account for students and young adults available on the market.
In its prime, the SCJ account offered an interest rate of 2% p.a. on the first $20k account balance with no conditions to meet.
This has since been reduced to 1%, and most recently, further reduced to a pitiful 0.4% p.a. as of 1 Jan 2021.
With the rise in popularity of insurance savings plans such as Singlife and Dash EasyEarn which offer interest rates of up to 2%, it prompts the question: is the SCJ account still worth using/keeping?
If you have been thinking about closing your SCJ account due to its low interest rates, wait up – until the end of this post.
I will share with you 4 reasons why I won’t be closing my SCJ account just yet, and perhaps neither should you.
1: Access to Standard Chartered Promotions
My first reason is so that I will be able to get access to any Standard Chartered promotions.
Along with the SCJ account, you should also have been issued the Standard Chartered Cashback debit card, which looks like this:
Banks often partner with dining, retail or online merchants to offer promotions and discounts to customers who use their cards.
And it’s worth noting that debit cards are usually also eligible for such offers – not just credit cards, even if it may be advertised otherwise.
For example, e-commerce platforms such as Shopee and Lazada offer various bank vouchers to offset some of your purchases.
Vouchers for DBS, UOB, OCBC, and Citibank are usually very competitive as almost everyone owns cards from these banks and use them religiously.
As a result, their vouchers are often used up very quickly and it can be hard to make use of them.
Standard Chartered, on the other hand, is less commonly used, and so it is usually easier to claim and use vouchers.
Assuming you don’t have an SC credit card, the SC Cashback debit card is probably the only way for you to enjoy any SC-exclusive offers.
And you need to have an SC bank account in order to use it – which is where the SCJ account can come in handy.
On top of bank-exclusive offers, the SC Cashback card also rewards 1% cashback on all eligible Mastercard transactions.
Even if the SC Cashback card is not your 1st choice among cards to use, it doesn’t hurt to have the option and widen your reach for bank-exclusive promotions to maximise any savings on your spending.
2: Get Rewarded for GrabPay/Dash Top-Ups
Using the SC Cashback card to top up your GrabPay/Singtel Dash wallet counts as an eligible transaction to earn 1% cashback.
In addition, using your Singtel Dash Visa card to top up your GrabPay wallet earns you Dash Rewards points.
This means it is possible to triple-dip on rewards and earn up to 2.4% cashback (1% cash + 0.6% Dash Rewards points + 0.8% GrabRewards points), assuming you’re a Platinum member for both Dash Rewards and GrabRewards.
This is great because most credit cards have stopped giving rewards for GrabPay and Dash top-ups.
With the SC Cashback card, you have a way to earn cashback on a transaction that would otherwise earn you nothing.
For more information on this, check out my post on how to earn rewards for GrabPay top-ups.
3: Still The Best Savings Account
While the current interest rate of 0.4% is nothing to be excited about, it is still one of the highest interest rates around on the market for savings accounts.
With all other banks cutting interest rates on their savings accounts, the SCJ account remains the best option for students who aren’t able to make full use of other accounts like DBS Multiplier or the like.
Even though there are higher interest rates offered in the form of insurance savings plans like Singlife or Dash EasyEarn, they are not the same as a regular bank account.
A regular savings account is still necessary in order to facilitate day-to-day services like PayNow and FAST transactions.
Since you need to use a bank account on a regular basis, you might as well be using the one with the highest interest rate.
4: Things Will Get Better
Personally, I am confident that in a few years’ time, when the economy recovers and stabilises, Standard Chartered will increase the SCJ account’s interest rate.
The cutting of interest rates is not exclusive to the SCJ account.
All high-interest savings accounts/insurance savings plans have been furiously reducing interest rates.
In my opinion, this is a result of prudence.
Banks and financial institutions don’t want to overstretch their finances by continuing to offer the same high-interest rates that they were during the bullish period of pre-2020.
Instead, they have adopted a bearish, safer position by reducing interest rates.
While they are undoubtedly aware that such moves will drive customers to seek better products, they are also aware that when they increase interest rates again, customers will return.
This is the belief that I have for the SCJ account – that it will increase its interest rates again in the future.
But if you close your SCJ account now, you may no longer meet the criteria to open an account by the time interest rates recover.
Currently, only customers aged 18 ~ 26 inclusive are eligible to open an SCJ account.
Once you’re past that age, you will no longer be able to do so.
Now, just because I said I’m not closing my account doesn’t mean that I’m actively using it – I have transferred most of my savings out of the account and into my Singlife/Dash EasyEarn accounts.
I simply keep enough money in my SCJ account to pay for my expenses with the SC Cashback card.
The reason this is okay is that the SCJ account charges no fees: no fall-below fee (ie no minimum balance) or annual fee.
This means that there is no consequence for leaving your SCJ account open with a $0 balance while waiting for the interest rate to recover in a few years’ time.
So, why bother putting in the extra effort to close the account when it costs nothing to leave it open and may get better in the future?
The reasons I am choosing not to close my SCJ account are:
- To enjoy exclusive SC card offers
- To earn rewards for GrabPay/Dash wallet top-ups with the SC Cashback card
- It is still the best (highest interest) savings account for students
- (I believe) Interest rates will increase in future
Note: both points 1 & 2 assume that you have the SC Cashback debit card issued with your SCJ account, and is linked to your SCJ account as the primary account.
Just because the SCJ account isn’t looking too hot now doesn’t mean that it won’t get more attractive in the years to come.
Instead of going out of my way to close it, I’d much rather enjoy the benefits of the SCJ account + SC Cashback card and wait for the interest rate to increase again.
In fact, if you’ve been holding off on opening an SCJ account because of its low interest rate, it may be a good idea to go ahead and open one now anyway.
Will you be closing your SCJ account? Let me know in the comments below!