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Mini-Review: Trust Bank

by Apoorv Trivedi on
Trust Feature Image

The Bottom Line

Trust Bank has launched with much fanfare as the first digital only bank in Singapore and quickly signed up 100K users.

The Trust credit and debit card are good options only if you grocery shop primarily at FairPrice.

In that case it may be worth paying up for NTUC Union membership too. That’s because members get higher discounts at FairPrice with these cards and can easily recover membership fee as long as they spend more than S$200 a month at FairPrice.

The savings account offers up to 1.4% interest on first S$50K of deposits without any major requirements but we don’t find it compelling otherwise.

The account is easy to open and operate but the overall user experience needs to improve before we can consider it for our primary bank account.

Trust Bank
Great for FairPrice shoppers

Trust Bank Credit Card makes sense if you grocery shop at FairPrice. 1.0-1.4% interest rate on savings account is nice but not special. UX needs to improve.

What is Trust Bank?

Trust Bank is the first digital only bank to launch in Singapore. It is a 60-40 joint venture between Standard Chartered Bank and FairPrice Group / NTUC Enterprise.

Although Trust Bank has a Full Bank license from MAS, it looks like it will operate on a digital only (or branchless) basis.

What does Trust Bank offer?

Trust Bank offers only 3 products today: a savings account, a credit card and a personal accident insurance policy.

You can access these products by downloading their app from their website and signing up for an account.

The sign up process on the app is simple and takes only a few minutes using myInfo / SingPass. The delivery of the card can take a few days.

Savings Account

Trust Savings Account offers a base interest rate of 1% on first S$50K of deposits. This is higher than the 0.05% base rate offered by most other banks in Singapore.

You can also earn a bonus 0.2% interest if you do at least 5 transaction every month using the Trust Card (debit or credit). If you have NTUC Union membership, the bonus rises to 0.4%. This bonus is generally lower than what many other banks offer, which may be as high as 3.5%.

Interest Rate
Interest Rates on Savings Account
Fee-less SA
Fee-less Savings Accounts
Fee-less Card
Fee-less Credit Card

The maximum interest rate of 1.2-1.4% is also lower than the 1.9-2.2% yields available with Robo-Advisors cash portfolios like Endowus Cash Smart and StashAway Simple.

Of course unlike Trust savings account, those returns are not guaranteed but the yield gap is large enough to be worth considering, if yield is the main attraction of Trust savings account for you.

Unlike Trust savings account, the Robo-advisors also do not offer payments facility.

Trust Bank does make it a lot easier to earn the bonus compared to other Banks. Any 5 transactions in a month will get you the bonus interest rate, even if they add up to $10.

To earn 1.0 – 1.4%+ with DBS you need to have transactions worth more than S$5,000 in 2 categories (e.g. salary credit + 1 more) or have a balance more than S$25K and have transactions more than S$2,000 in 3 categories. In effect it must be your primary bank account.

Trust Bank bills the saving account as “Fee-less” – there are no monthly fees, no charges if your balance falls below a minimum threshold and no fees for card replacement.

This means there is low risk in opening a Trust Savings account – you will not be hit with fees even if you eventually leave the account dormant.

Debit Card The savings account comes with the Trust debit card, which offers up to 11% savings on all spend at FairPrice Group (FPG) stores for NTUC Union members and up to 5% for non-members. All spend outside of FairPrice Group gets 0.22% savings.

The savings are in form of Linkpoints, which can be used at FPG stores only.

1 Linkpoint = 1¢.

The reward program is somewhat complicated. To earn the full 5% savings at FPG stores, you need to spend at least S$200 a month outside FPG stores. This non-FPG spend only earns 0.22% savings. So you effective savings on total spend are lower than the headline 5%.

It’s the same for NTUC Union members – to earn the full 11% at FPG stores, you must spend at least S$200 a month outside FPG stores.

The debit card is useful if you do most of your groceries at FariPrice stores and even better if you are a NTUC Union member.

For the rest of us, its unexceptional.

Payments The savings account offers basic payments functionality i.e. PayNow, FAST etc. However there is no GIRO or pre-set billing organizations for utility and other bill payments. The account also does not provide cheque books.

This shouldn’t be a problem in most cases because most organizations now accept PayNow / FAST payments. But if you really need to use one of those methods then Trust savings account isn’t for you.

Credit Card

As with the Trust debit card, the Trust credit card works well for grocery shopping at FairPrice Group. After the promotional period (ends Dec 2022), you can earn up to 8% savings at FairPrice (up to 14% if you are a NTUC Union member).

To earn the high rewards at FPG stores, you need to spend at least S$450 outside FPG stores ($350 for NTUC Union members) and on this S$450, you only earn 0.22% savings.

Also there are caps on monthly, quarterly and annual bonus savings that you earn on the card and these kick in quite fast.

If you like to optimize your spends, the table below shows the effective discount you get at FairPrice based on your monthly spend, adjusting for these caps.

Table 1: Effective Savings at FairPrice during Promotional Period

Spend at FairPrice Group Savings (%)
For NTUC Union Members
On the first S$315 21%
On additional spend between S$315 to S$500 13%
On additional spend between S$500 to S$650 9%
On all spend above S$650 0.5%
*Adjusted for monthly, quarterly and annual caps

Table 2: Effective Savings at FairPrice during Promotional Period

Spend at FairPrice Group Savings (%)
For non-Members
On the first S$360 15%
On additional spend between S$360 to S$730 7.5%
On all spend above S$730 0.5%
*Adjusted for monthly, quarterly and annual caps

Table 3: Effective Savings at FairPrice after Promotional Period ends

Spend at FairPrice Group Savings (%)
For NTUC Union Members
On the first S$267 14%
On additional spend between S$267 to S$500 9%
On additional spend between S$500 to S$888 5%
On all spend above S$888 0.5%
*Adjusted for monthly, quarterly and annual caps

Table 4: Effective Savings at FairPrice after Promotional Period ends

Spend at FairPrice Group Savings (%)
For non-Members
On the first S$335 8%
On additional spend between S$335 to S$1,145 4%
On all spend above S$1,145 0.5%
*Adjusted for monthly, quarterly and annual caps

We simulated the rewards earned on Trust Credit Card based on the spending profiles we use to evaluate all cards.

If used as the only card, the average rewards yield on Trust Credit Card (1.2%) is below the average (1.45%) for the 60+ credit cards we track in Singapore. The card falls close to the bottom of the chart for high spenders (0.73% reward if you spend S$10K+) but is not too bad if you spend <S$2,000 a month on your card (about 1.6%).

However the best credit cards average around 2.5% reward yield for low spends and more than 2.8% for high spends.

So Trust Credit card only works well if you do most of your grocery shopping at FairPrice Group stores. In that case you could use it for your utility bills, petrol and some other spends to meet the minimum non-FPG spend requirement, take the rewards on FairPrice shopping and use another card for all other spends.

If you plan to get the Trust Credit card it may also be worthwhile to get the NTUC Union membership, if possible. It costs S$117 per year.

Our calculations show that after the promotional period, the average reward rate for FairPrice spend is about 5% higher if you have union membership. As long as you spend more than about S$200 a month at FairPrice, the additional discount will more than pay for the membership cost over the year.

Trust Credit Card also offer 17% discount on petrol at Caltex Stations and this can increase to about 20% if you meet minimum non-FPG spend every month. This makes if a decent choice if you usually get your petrol at Caltex, although you can get 22.7% discount there with the OCBC 365 Credit Card.

Family Personal Accident Insurance

Trust Bank’s website lists Insurance as a separate product category. However there is only one policy available – an S$8,000 personal accident cover for each family member. The monthly premium for this policy is S$0.50 per month and first two months are free if you sign up for the credit card.

One Spouse
Only one spouse is covered... the rest of my harem is out of luck.

Not only is there only one product, it seems there is only one opportunity to buy it – when you are signing up. We couldn’t find the option to buy it later and the customer service also said that the policy can only be purchased during onboarding.

It’s hard to understand the purpose of this policy – the cover is low and unless you buy it as soon as you see it, there is no way for you to buy it. We are inclined to ignore it for now.

Other Features

Overall the Trust Bank app is quite basic. But it does have a couple of features we have not seen in other Bank apps.

You can track your rewards earned in the app as you complete transactions. You don’t need to wait for the month end to find out how much you earned.

Another feature is called Stamp Cards, which as the name suggests replaces the stamp cards you get at some shops. For spends at outlets like Kopitiam, Heavenly Wang and Gojek, the app keeps track of your purchases and offers a reward on every 4th transaction.

Right now only 6 merchants are using this function but maybe the number will increase.

The app also has a screen with a large number of coupons from various merchants. These are new features for a bank app but there are many other apps that offer such options.

Stamp Card
Stamp Card Feature
Coupon feature

User Experience and Customer Service

The process of signing up for a Trust account was easy and fast using myInfo authorization. No papers were signed and no branches were visited.

However beyond that the experience was not very polished or even… ready? This shows in small and big ways. Here are some examples that had us scratching our heads:

  • You cannot sign up for the credit card and the savings account together.
  • If you want both you must first apply for the credit card and then the savings account
  • The other way round apparently doesn’t work
  • If your credit card application is rejected, you must delete the app and reinstall to apply for a savings account
  • You cannot search the FAQs and the FAQ does not cover many basic questions (e.g. is GIRO available, how to buy insurance etc.)
  • There is no chat option on the website

Our experience with customer service was also mixed. We could not get through to an operator on phone even after 20 minutes on hold.  We were able to get answers to our questions on chat in the app but on average we had to wait 30 min to be connected to a customer service agent.

The app is nothing special. Given the limited products we were able to locate most functions easily but the didn’t find the app very intuitive or fast.

One at a time
No Credit Card if you apply for Savings Account.
Credit Card Fail
If Card application fails, must delete and reinstall app to apply for Savings Account.

Where’s the innovation?

We were excited to see the launch of Trust Bank. What innovations could they come up with under a digital only model to shake up the boring banking industry?

So far we are disappointed.

There are small tweaks here and there but we struggle to find anything truly revolutionary. The credit card is a mildly revised version of the now discontinued OCBC Plus! Card. The insurance policy is hard to buy and has a impractically low cover.

The savings account is… fine? You can pick up some extra interest without having to worry about meeting high hurdles but again nothing other banks / fintechs don’t already offer.

Zero fees, especially for foreign currency transactions on the cards are more interesting but not exactly new. Fully digital sign up is useful and possibly new for banks but old news otherwise even for Fintechs. Using the same card as credit and debit card is new but not earthshaking.

Trust Bank has reached 100K sign-ups in one week but it will be interesting to see how many of them continue to use the app regularly and how many make Trust their primary banking relationship.

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