In the Philippines, the most popular banks are the so-called “Big Three” — BDO Unibank (BDO), Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), and Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company (Metrobank). These banks seemingly have a branch in every street corner, and in the case of BDO and BPI, conveniently inside malls. It’s no wonder that many Filipinos flock to these three, as evidenced by the crowds inside their branches.
I was no different, and have accounts with all three banks. However, I have become exasperated over the years with terrible customer service from BPI and Metrobank. I’m fed up, so I’m closing all my accounts — savings, checking, investments, and credit cards — with them. (BDO has slightly improved in my experience, so I’m staying…for now.)
Before I decided to say goodbye to BPI and Metrobank, I searched around the web for a replacement bank. Definitely not Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) or UnionBank of the Philippines (UnionBank) — I’ve had accounts with these two in the past and they are way worse than the Big Three ::shudder::.
The rebranded Security Bank stood out from the pack. I was pleasantly surprised by their modern website; while other banks’ cluttered websites look like they’re stuck in 1995, Security Bank’s is clean, well-organized, and easy to navigate — very Web 2.0. Not too crowded in their branches either, but they’re not pipitsugin at all — on the contrary, Security Bank is the sixth largest bank in the country. Better yet, you don’t even have to go to a branch to open an account — with their Human Switch Kit service, a Sales Associate will come to you instead.
While my husband W. and I didn’t avail of this convenient service and visited a branch instead (I’m not fond of strangers in our abode), it sold me on Security Bank — if they’re willing to go through the hassle so that we don’t have to, they’re already miles ahead of the competition in terms of customer service.
True to its name, it was easy enough to open a joint Easy Savings account, their most basic account. (As an added bonus, they upgraded us to their Gold Circle since we qualified with the initial deposit.) It was also a breeze to enroll in Security Bank Online, their online banking facility. Once enrolled, I immediately created an eSecure Savings (eSS) account.
eSS is Security Bank’s high-interest online product which you can only open and manage through Security Bank Online. As the Easy account has a very low interest rate of 0.10% pa (and none at all below PHP 100,000), I keep only up to 5x the maintaining balance of PHP 5,000 there for quick, small withdrawals (it’s free at any ATM in the Philippines for Gold Circle members). The rest is transferred immediately to the eSS account to take advantage of the higher interest rates.
I’ve had the eSS account for a few months now, and I find it better than a time deposit in many ways:
- For deposits above PHP 50,000, its interest rates are on par, if not better, than the time deposit rates of other commercial banks. Compare with the Big Three rates: BDO, BPI, Metrobank
- You can instantly open up to 10 eSS accounts online. No more hauling ass to the branch and signing a bunch of papers
- You can deposit more money anytime. With a time deposit, you have to wait for its maturity date
- You can pay your bills online from your eSS account. Bill payment is not considered a withdrawal and will not affect the interest rate
- You can withdraw from and/or close the account anytime. With a time deposit, you are subject to an early termination penalty