Last Tuesday, I was having lunch with cousin Tim. We started to chat while waiting for our meals to be served. It was then. My phone rang and I answered.
‘Good afternoon, I’m Mike from XYZ Bank. May I speak to Mr. Lau, please?’
I replied, ‘Yes, I’m Lau. Anything?’
Mike continued, ‘Lau, the reason why I’m calling you is because our bank is having a promotion to provide you a low interest loan.’
I replied, ‘I see. By the way, I don’t have a bank account or credit card with XYZ Bank. How did you get my number?’
Mike replied, ‘Lau, I got your number from our marketing department. Sir, our promotion is up till end of this month. Do you want more cash?’
I replied, ‘Sorry, I’m not interested. Thanks for calling.’
Promptly, Mike ended the conservation.
Today, financial products such as credit cards, personal loans and insurance are promoted through roadshows and professional telemarketers. Personally, I do not prefer to sign up for these products through these channels. This is because:
- I’m not sure whether the products offered are truly suitable to my needs
- Perhaps, there are much better products in the market, that I am unaware about
- I may need to give away my personal details to salespeople. This may result in more unsolicited calls in the future.
Fortunately, there are several sites that provide comparisons of the different financial products in Malaysia. The latest entrant is GoBear, who have already established a name for themselves as a reliable, and unbiased source of financial information. The best part about GoBear would be how it allows users to browse anonymously – I do not need to reveal my personal details unless I am interested to find out more about a specific product. Here’s how it works.
Step 1:How much is my credit card spending?
Let us start with credit cards. For us Malaysians, you just have to walk into one of the malls to have some credit card promotion waved into our faces. And though it may seem that credit cards are being offered as free chocolate samples, the truth is that before selecting a credit card, there needs to be a detailed research on the interest rate and privileges.
I remember when I got my first credit card, my Dad sat me down and explained the importance of paying on time and how debt can hinder my future. He kept repeating, “Whatever you do, do not max the card. It only to be used in emergencies. Please do not use it to buy your girlfriends flowers or gifts. I hope you know what emergency means, ah?” The effects from that sit down so long ago still stayed with me that even today, whenever I use my credit card, I hear his words ringing in my head, “Are you sure this is an emergency?”
But times have changed since then, there a lot of rewards and benefits in using a credit card and if you are prudent enough, you can sometimes save money as well! Remember research is key. Which is where Go Bear comes into the picture.
At the home page, I can choose how I want to be rewarded for using a credit card. Here, I’ve selected air miles over cashback as I travel frequently.
On average, I’ve calculated my credit card spending to be around RM 5,000 a month. From which, I would itemised my spending according to the item and its amount as shown below. This would allow GoBear to estimate my rewards to be earned annually for using a particular credit card.
Then, I clicked ‘Search Cards’.
Step 2: Choosing My Top 3 Credit Card Products
Promptly, I’m directed to a page where GoBear has listed and compiled information of 136 credit cards in Malaysia. Frankly speaking, I do not have time to go through the materials of each of every single one of these cards.
Hence, I clicked onto ‘Filter’ to narrow down the choices based on my preferences
From which, I’m able to filter credit cards based on its card supplier, bank, annual fee, wireless payment and my annual income. For instance, I chose:
- To have either a Visa or MasterCard
- To have a credit card from either Maybank, Public Bank, or HSBC.
These were my criteria to pick a credit card, however you can filter the options based on your personal financial needs.
As a result, I’ve narrowed down my search from 136 cards to 25 cards. Often, the cards that give the best rewards are placed at the top. Here, I would select my top 3 cards based on key information such as Miles per Ringgit spent, interest rates, and annual fees. I’ve clicked onto ‘Compare Now’ as circled in red.
My card selection would appear at the bottom of the screen. Next, I would click ‘Go Compare’ as highlighted in yellow to go to an even more detailed comparison of the 3 cards.
Step 3: Final Due Diligence
Quickly, I’m directed to another page that has a more comprehensive presentation of information on the 3 cards chosen. This includes existing promotions available, rewards and other relevant information.
Once I’ve decided on a credit card, I would click ‘Go to Bank’. From which, GoBear would direct me to the website of the relevant bank, where I can proceed with my credit card application.
It’s that simple.
Now, Let’s Move Onto Personal Loan
Recently, I received an email from one of my readers from the blog. In his mid-20s, he shared that he is struggling to service his credit card debt of RM 15,000 with a monthly salary of RM 3,000.
The minimum payment is 5% and with his outstanding credit card debt of RM 15,000 this amounts to RM 750. Which is already 25% of its monthly salary. Clearly, he is looking for a solution to relieve his financial burdens. I decided to put GoBear to the test and do my research on the site.
Step 1: How much do I want to borrow?
At the home page, this time I clicked on the ‘Loans’ tab. I filled in 3 things which include the amount I intend to borrow, the borrowing period, and the monthly salary as shown below.
Then, I clicked ‘Search Loans’.
Step 2: Choosing My Loan Products
I was introduced to 2 loan products from the information I keyed in previously. In the image below, you can see that GoBear has listed the interest rate and has provided a calculation to the total interest payable and the monthly installments needed to service the loan.
Here, I wish to find out more on the loan offered by BSN. Hence, I moved my mouse which directs the pointer to the area pointed in red. (Visible in the screenshot above). A button known as ‘More Details’ would appear. I would click onto it.
It will direct me to a page where I would receive comprehensive information on the loan product. This includes application requirements, documents needed for application, approval time, and other fees and charges applicable.
From GoBear, I’ve learnt that the interest rate charged is 8.5% per year. The monthly installment works out to be RM 231 a month. It is lesser than RM 750 in minimum monthly repayment on RM 15,000 in outstanding credit card debt.
Hence, if my reader would borrow RM 15,000 from BSN Personal Loan to pay off his outstanding credit card debt of RM 15,000, he will be able to free up as much as RM 519 in monthly cash flow. This would definitely relieve some financial pressure. But you need to understand that you might not save interest charges because credit card interest is calculated daily like mortgage. But personal loan is based on flat rate, which works something like a hire-purchase car loan.
Let us assume that my reader is interested. He may proceed by clicking ‘Apply Now’. From which, he would leave some basic personal details which allows BSN to follow-up on his loan application.
See what I said about simplicity?
While it has become a lot harder to get approval on credit cards and personal loans, hopefully the above examples have given you some idea on how to research for the best financial product for you. My recommendation would also be to go for the simplest, most uncomplicated product that you can find — which still serves your purpose and helps save you money.
GoBear helps you fully understand the financial jargon, the privileges, terms and conditions and can help you maximize the benefits. Of course, all banks have their own terms and conditions. But you’ll save yourself a lot of gray hairs if you do your research on GoBear first.
If you wish to anonymously browse the best credit card or personal loan deals in Malaysia, just click on www.gobear.com.my to start. GoBear will soon be expanding their services to house loans, car loans. Besides, GoBear has already built a collection of articles where you can receive the latest tips and updates which enables you to become a smarter consumer of financial products in Malaysia.
More places to follow Gobear: