Banking Perks for the Affluent
Maybe you aren't a mega millionaire but you have a nice nest egg put aside, maybe as much as a quarter of a million or more – or perhaps as 'little' as $100K. If so, you are considered part of the 'mass affluent' by banks and your dollars are much desired by them.
What are the perks for the affluent?
The are as different as the bank and marketers can come up with. I've seen any and all of the following offered:
Wine and cheese; chocolate chip cookies; separate lounges; after hours appointments; good products and good service in a private setting; concierge-style service for banking chores; special lounges in airports; or personalized service, you can always interact with your assigned financial adviser (you can also just walk into the bank and use any of the people there).
Here are even more examples:
A 24x7 service phone line so that you can do things like a wire transfer, get new checks and etc after bank hours.
Other perks can be things such as the below
Free wire transfers.
Use of out of network ATMs without fees
One consistent contact for any need (your adviser).
Adviser recommendations on investments to make
No foreign exchange fees for debit card usage outside the U.S.
No charges for domestic and international wire transfers, notary services, personal checks, traveler's checks, stop payments, online overnight checks, and more
Higher daily withdrawal limits on debit cards
A special debit card that can be linked to your checking account and given to children, home staff or others, with specific monthly spending and withdrawal limits that are set by you for each cardholder
Specialized lending products
Preferred mortgage benefits
Expanded credit guidelines
Access to a greater variety of credit cards.
How do you get those perks?
All you have to do is deposit very large sums of money and get very little interest from the bank on it! Some banks allow you to combine several accounts together to reach the minimum threshold for the 'privileged' status. Others don't let you in unless they invite you. Some banks have seperate facilities to use, others combine it with there regular branches.
What banks are offering special deals for the affluent?
Many banks have tiered service levels depending on how much money you keep with them. Four that specifically service the mass affluent market are:
Bank of America has a 'preferred' level and has a thousand Financial Solutions advisers recently hired to channel their money into Merrill investments.
HSBC Premier offers perks such as helping you relocate your banking and credit information when you move, providing emergency funding and next day card replacements, premier airport lounges and more
Citibank's Citgold and Citgold Select provide a personal point of contact for you, reductions on certain fees and access to more loan products, among other things.
Chase offers Chase Private Client with some of the above bulleted perks.
Should you sign up for affluent banking?
If you like feeling privileged, want to use an investment adviser from a bank (who will recommend proprietary products) or if you travel a lot and if you don't mind not earning interest on your banked money these accounts may be for you.
Brooklynmatt from the Flyer Talk online forum isn't buying into them. He said:
"All [HSBC] Premier or Citigold is really is a chance for the bank to lock in your money at no interest and facilitate sales of their proprietary products under the guise of Wealth Management."
However, Chuck 2007 likes HSBC Premier. His comments on the Flyer Talk forum included:
"I have been a HSBC Premier customer for just under 2 years and overall have been quite satisfied. Here are the positives as I see them:
1. Got a Kindle for signing up and depositing $50K
2. Opened a brokerage account and was able to buy US corporate bonds at a lower price than I could at either Schwab or TD Ameritrade
3. I save transaction fees every month since I do regular transfers to a foreign bank account
4. While traveling abroad, I am able to use the HSBC Premier Credit card with no foreign exchange charges
5. I opened a business account recently and have been able to do international wire transfers for a fee of $15 (compared to $30-$50 at other banks)
6. The Rewards program is decent with a $400 ticket available for 24000 points (approx. 1.67 cents per dollar spent). Of course, you can get value of up to 2 cents per dollar spent with the Capital One Venture card - but I was OK with this.
Overall, I find it convenient to do business with a global bank that is present internationally in most (if not all) of the countries that I travel to and do business in."
I won't be using them myself. Too much money at no or low interest rates results in lower investment gains. Besides, the perks aren't ones that are meaningful to my lifestyle.