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Money Times - June 20, 2017

Posted by Jill Kerby on June 20 2017 @ 09:00

 

CAN THIS NEW CASH BACK SMART ACCOUNT HELP SAVE AN POST?

 

My household spends approximately €150 a week on groceries and alcohol, including that extra litre or two of milk and bread that you inevitably pick up once or twice a week. Over the course of a year – and not including the big spending that happens at Christmas and other anniversaries – that amounts to about €7,800.

After rent /mortgage payments, food purchases are the biggest financial outlay for most people and families incur so any way to cut that bill, as well as other sizeable bills, like utilities and insurance are always going to be welcome.

I tend to divide my grocery spend between Lidl and Supervalu, with the Lidl shop, which is nearer to me, getting the lion’s share of that €7,800. Since I really don’t enjoy the tedium of grocery shopping, I really like their more limited selection.  It means I buy what I need, I don’t get as caught up in impulse buys, the parking is free and plentiful and I’m in and out of the shop in about 30 minutes flat.

Even though the price of goods at Lidl has gone up, just as they have in other grocery stores (either that or the size/portion of many packaged goods in particular has been reduced) my loyalty to Lidl, could end up really paying off.

Last Thursday, An Post announced the launch of its new Smart Account, a new current account banking facility that includes a savings ‘wallet’; a debit card in partnership with Mastercard that facilitates money back on purchases (and can be used as a normal ATM card; and a user-friendly App to keep track of your cash back balance and purchases.  

The Smart Account is being rolled out across its network of post offices starting this month and you can check to see if (or when) the post office near you begins to participate, as well as the list of participating retail outlets – like Lidl – at www.smartaccount.ie 

So how much could this account be worth to you?  There are only nine participating retailers but the company expects dozens more by the end of the year. The shopper who spends €25 or more at Lidl will get 5% back on their purchases; 10% back on their electricity costs with SSE Airtricity; 5% back on all An Post car and home insurance costs; 8% back on in-store and online spend with Intersport Elverys; 5% back on holidays with Sunway; 10% back on direct payments to Oxendales. There is a 5% money back payment on hotel bookings with GreatBreaks, online book purchases with Kennys.ie and garden furniture purchases with OutdoorLiving.ie respectively. 

Even if you only shopped at Lidl and spent €560 a month (nearly what I spend) and also paid €170 a month to SSE Airtricity and €40 to Post insurance, you could expect to save €47 month or €588 back over the course of a year.  Add an annual summer holiday purchase with Sunway for the family – say €3,000 between flights and hotels – and you’d net another €150.  It all adds up.

 

There are minimum purchases to watch out for and the cost of running this new current account is €5 a month – someone who gets free banking may want to take that into account – but the payback is that the savings from purchases that are put into your Smart Account “wallet” and any additional savings you may want to make, could yield a return of anything from 5%-10% on the purchases you subsequently make with participating retailers. Savings accounts these days are yielding practically zero percent interest.

Cash back schemes are popular, but they are not all good value. When Supervalu was Superquinn you could use your accumulated points to reduce your grocery bill. Today you get a cash coupon that you can only use between certain week dates. I preferred it the old way when I saved up all my points and reduced my big Christmas shopping bill. 

This scheme is certainly on the attractive end of the cashback spectrum, assuming the participating retailers offer good value. You still need to shop around. And for this Smart Current Account to really take off it should add more big-ticket retailers like, for example, a health insurer or an airline.  Frequent flyer points for credit/debit card purchases are huge incentives for people to use that particular card.

You can apply for a Smart Current Account online or you can pick up an application at a participating post office. You then bring the completed form and your identity documents to the post office which will then send out a start-up kit 7-10 days later.

Banking still needs a shake-up in this country. Customers are looking for better returns on savings and tangible rewards for loyalty.  The post office needs to become more relevant.

This could be the way to achieve all three.

 

 

PORTFOLIOMETRIX IRELAND…a new era of personalized investment portfolios

14 Fitzwilliam Square Dublin 2  +353 1 539 7244   info@portfoliometrix.ie

Fermat Point Limited, trading as PortfolioMetrix Ireland, is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

 

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