Does your bank want to be your BFF?

Does your bank want to be your BFF?

The banks take the battle for Gen Y’s savings to a new frontier, using social networking to become the internet generation’s new BFF. Jeannie Messer reports.

March 17, 2010

The spike in the cost of wholesale funding resulting from the credit crisis has led to unprecedented competition among lenders for deposit and savings accounts. Gen Y represents an important slice of this market and the banks are bending over backwards to attract their business. And this means establishing a presence on social media like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

ANZ Bank has released a number of products targeting Gen Y, using Facebook and Get Satisfaction for their social online savings account SmartyPig and Twitter for ANZ MoneyManager. 

Other Australian banks on Twitter include @BOQonline, @Raboplus
@SmartyPigAU (ANZ), @Ubank (NAB), @Westpac_help and @YMoneyMatters (Commonwealth Bank).

In an on-line interview following their nomination for a Shorty Award (the Twitter community’s Oscars), UBank listed Facebook, YouTube and Twitter among the “six things they couldn’t do without,” and said “direct, unfiltered connection” to customers inspired them to tweet.

As well as some of the highest interest rates for online savings accounts (more than 5.75 percent p.a. for its USaver account), UBank rewards its followers on Twitter with goodies like free USB cards or the chance to win prizes in on-line competitions.

While these are fun incentives, the most tangible benefit Twitter offers customers is the ability to provide honest feedback in a very public forum. 

In March last year, the Commonwealth Bank made the news after a two-line rant posted on Twitter saw the head of their customer services team personally step in to solve a long-standing problem with a customer’s mortgage application in less than two hours.  

It is hardly surprising that Westpac‘s website promises Twitterers “We will monitor the comments on our page and will reply where needed.”

Gen Y is not just the most tech-savvy generation; they’re also the most analysed, talked about, and vocal. Well-informed and demanding, banks are only too well aware that their loyalty cannot be taken for granted. And while competitive rates and features are important considerations when choosing a savings account, customer service is the factor that distinguishes providers from the pack. In this era of social networking, that means your feedback is more important than ever before. 

The result is a smorgasbord of innovative, attractive online savings accounts offering the kind of customer service and attention previous generations could only dream of.

How tweet it is! 

For more news and great offers on savings accounts follow us on twitter @RateCity

 

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Learn more about savings accounts

Can you set up a savings account online?

Yes. Several large and small banks offer online applications for savings accounts, and there are also online-only financial institutions to consider.

Online-only savings accounts are often less expensive than other savings accounts, though they may not offer the same flexibility, features, or face-to-face service as more traditional savings accounts.

What is the interest rate on savings accounts?

As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to look at interest rates on savings accounts is to use a savings accounts comparison tool. When you look at the savings rate check what the maximum and minimum rates are. Often banks will offer you a promotional rate for the first few months which is competitive, but then revert back to a base rate which can sometimes be less than inflation. Ongoing bonus rates are often a safer bet as they will keep rewarding you with the maximum rate, provided you meet their criteria

Can you have a joint savings account?

Yes. Joint savings accounts can be useful for two or more people wanting to combine their savings to meet shared financial goals, including spouses, flatmates and business partners.

Some joint savings accounts require all parties to sign before they can access the money. While less convenient, this extra security can help encourage all parties to meet their shared financial goals.

Other joint savings accounts allow any of the account holders to access the money. These accounts can be convenient for financially responsible couples that trust one another implicitly. 

How to open a savings account for my child?

Some banks and financial institutions allow parents to open a bank account for their child as soon as it is born, and start depositing funds to go towards the child’s future.

Children’s savings accounts generally don’t have fees, and are structured to help develop positive financial habits by limiting withdrawals, encouraging regular deposits, and earning interest on the savings, similarly to standard savings accounts.

How to make money with a savings account?

Savings accounts make you money by earning interest on your savings. The more money you deposit, the longer you leave it in the account, and the higher the account’s interest rate, the more interest you’ll be paid by the bank or financial institution, and the more your wealth will grow.

To make sure your savings account makes money and doesn’t lose money, it’s important to maintain a large enough minimum balance that the annual interest earned exceeds any annual fees charged on the account.

Can you set up direct debits from a savings account?

It’s not usually possible to set up a direct debit from your savings account to cover ongoing expenses or bills, as savings accounts are structured around growing your wealth by earning interest on regular deposits, and discouraging withdrawals.

Some transaction accounts allow you to set up direct debits and also earn interest, though you may not enjoy as much flexibility as a dedicated transaction account, or get as high an interest rate as a dedicated savings account.

Who has the highest interest rates for savings accounts?

As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to know who currently has the highest interest rate is to use a savings account comparison tool.

What is a savings account?

A savings account is a type of bank account in which you earn interest on the money you deposit. This makes it one of the easiest and safest investment tools.

How much money should I have in my savings account?

A good rule of thumb when working out a minimum balance for your savings account is to make sure that you’ll earn more in annual interest on your savings than what you’ll be charged in annual fees.

If you’re saving with a specific goal in mind, prepare a budget so the interest you earn on your deposits will help you efficiently reach this goal. Online financial calculators may be helpful here.

How does interest work on savings accounts?

The type of interest savings accounts accrues is called compound interest. Compound interest is interest paid on the initial deposit amount, as well as the accumulated interest on money you have. This is different from simple interest where interest is paid at the end of a specified term. Compound interest allows you to earn interest on interest at a higher frequency. 

Example: John deposits $10,000 into a savings account with an interest rate of 5 per cent that he leaves untouched for 10 years. At the end of the first year he will have $10,512 in savings. After ten years, he will have saved $16,470.

Can I overdraft my savings account?

A lot of savings accounts won’t let you overdraw. Some will allow this feature but you’ll need to apply first. It’s best to read the fine print and check with your lender whether this is a feature they offer. It can be a helpful addition, but as your lender can charge you a fee as well as interest for going into negative numbers, it’s best to avoid overdrafting when possible.

What is a good interest rate for a savings account?

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind with savings accounts is to look for a rate that is higher than the CPI inflation rate. This number is constantly changing, so check the Reserve Bank of Australia’s page. If you aren’t earning interest above this then the value of your money will go backwards over time.

How do I open a savings account?

Opening a savings account is a relatively simple process. If you’ve found an account with a suitable interest rate, you’ll just need to get in contact with your chosen lender via a branch, phone call or hop online to begin the process. 

You may be required to provide:

  • Personal details, including identification (driver’s license, passport etc.)
  • Tax file number
  • Employment details

How can I get a $4000 loan approved?

While personal loans and medium amount loans don’t offer guaranteed approval, there are steps you can take to help increase the likelihood of your application being approved, including:

  • Fulfilling the eligibility criteria (providing ID, proof of residency, proof of income etc.)
  • Checking your credit history (you can order one free copy of your credit file per year, and make sure that there aren’t any errors that may be bringing down your credit score)
  • Comparing carefully before applying (making multiple loan applications can mean having your credit checked multiple times, which can look bad to some lenders and reduce your chances of being approved by them)