6 Best Savings Accounts in Malaysia to Put Your Emergency Funds
Let’s assume you earn a good salary and/or have low expenses, and you need a place to put 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses (Step 3 in the road to financial freedom). The question now is, which are the best savings accounts in Malaysia, that you can use to keep your emergency funds safe?
Here are 6 savings accounts in Malaysia that you can consider.
Note: This article is about the best savings accounts in Malaysia to keep your emergency funds. Emphasis on emergency. Therefore, all the options on this list MUST either be cash or can be quickly converted/sold into cash without losing much value. In investing-speak, we call this ‘liquid’.
(p/s – According to Google image search, ‘liquid investment’ is also a tap that drips dollar signs, coins and banknotes. I can confirm this depiction is 100% accurate.)
With that clarified, let’s go ahead and rank the best places to save money in Malaysia. The ranking order is decided by myself, but let me know if you have opinions – open to compelling arguments.
#1 – ASB / Tabung Haji
Personally, I use my ASB (Amanah Saham Bumiputera) as my primary out-of-reach savings account. Whenever I get extra money, I keep it there instead of leave it in my bank account so I ‘forget’ about it.
Unfortunately, ASB is not available for non-Bumi. The next best alternative for non-Bumi is ASM (but it’s really hard to get). EDIT: Thanks Wan for reminding me about Tabung Haji, which is usually used by Muslims to save money for hajj, but is open to Muslims from any background.
ASB and Tabung Haji are examples of mutual fund/unit trust (technically considered different things, but used interchangeably in Malaysia).
Is unit trust a good place to save money in Malaysia?
I’d say other mutual funds/unit trusts are not as great for short-term savings purposes, because they:
- Lock up your money until retirement – case in point, EPF and PRS (Private Retirement Scheme, kinda like secondary, optional EPF)
- Charge you a lot of fees. Many unit trusts and mutual funds will impose a combination of these 9 types of fees.
You’re better off saving your money in #2-6 in this list.
How to withdraw ASB online
Withdrawing money from ASB is easy. You can go to the bank or to post office and make a request at the counter.
The more convenient method is to submit the request to withdraw ASB online from myASNB portal or app. It’s a simple enough process yet mafan enough to do that (hopefully) you’ll only take your savings out only when you really want/need to.
#2 – High-interest savings account (HISA)
Another option to keep your emergency funds is HISA – that’s short for high-interest savings account.
Which high-interest savings account in Malaysia is the best depends on bank promos at the time. Check out the HISA comparison article by RinggitPlus.
The thing about HISA is that the money in there is not really locked away – a blessing and a curse tbh. If you find yourself ‘dipping’ into your own savings account too often, then may I suggest you to:
- Open an account with another bank and hide the debit card, or
- Use other methods in this list
But otherwise, many people find high-interest savings accounts a good financial tool for saving money. Some people open separate savings accounts for:
- Marriage fund
- Car fund
- Travel fund
- Fun fund
- And more
#3 – Fixed deposit
The third place to save money in Malaysia is fixed deposits or FDs.
It’s funny because here, ‘locking up’ your money and not being able to access it for a time period is not a bug, it’s a feature. If you need a financial tool that will PENALISE you for taking out your own money before the contract ends, then FDs is for you.
Selecting one is super easy. You can find options at your bank, or use financial comparison platforms. Ideally you want the one that offers the highest interest rates, but keep in mind how long you’re locking your money for, and the minimum deposit you need.
iMoney makes it easy to find Islamic FDs too. You can just enable the button in the red box, the one that says ‘Show Islamic Products Only’
#4 – Cash Management Platforms
Cash management platforms are like fixed deposits, except WITHOUT the lock-in clause. Therefore, this makes them arguably better than fixed deposits.
As of the time of writing, there are 4 options for cash management platform:
- Stashaway Simple
- Versa Asia
- Touch N Go E-wallet’s Go+ (the only Shariah-compliant option)
- KDI Save
All four are good options. Pick the one that gives the highest rates and/or have sign-up bonus for new users.
#5 – Gold Savings Accounts
Gold as savings is… a bit polarising, in my observation. People either love it or hate it. Read up my various articles on gold investment if you’re interested, I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind. Despite what the agents say, it’s ok to not have gold at all, and just do #1-4.
But if you do want gold, and are aware that (1) gold price fluctuates (so you only put 5-15% of your assets in gold, not ALL of it) and (2) there are costs to buy/sell/keep the gold, then you can consider it.
Some gold savings accounts in Malaysia include:
- Maybank Gold Investment Account (shariah-compliant)
- Wahed Invest Gold Account (shariah-compliant)
Note that all the options above are digital gold.
Otherwise, physical gold can also act as emergency savings.
There are unique benefits to keeping physical gold. I’ll explained by Sam, in the 4 Things You Can Do If You Need Money URGENTLY in Malaysia article.
Sams – (I would) take my gold bar – purposely bought for emergency situation like this – to Ar-Rahnu. With them, I’m able to get a loan worth 60%~70% from the the current market gold price. They charge 0.07% per month in fees (note: fees may vary).
I’ve done this a lot when I need to renew car insurance, repair car breakdown, cover medical bills and more. By using Ar-Rahnu or pawnshop service, always try to redeem your gold as fast as possible, to avoid more charge (‘upah simpan’).
The good thing about this method, you are able to get your gold back once you redeem it thus maintaining your asset.
Example calculation: 10g gold bar 10g x RM190 x 60% = RM1140 | Fees – RM1140 x 0.7% = RM7.98 per month
Personally, I love the experience of owning gold. Like many people, I bought some gold with the ‘trader’ mentality – heard that gold prices went up from the news and just wanted to make a quick buck. Over time, it prepared me for price fluctuations and taught me how demand/supply works in the world market.
If it weren’t for gold, I wouldn’t be brave enough to dip my toes in higher-risk, higher-rewards investments like stocks and even crypto. But that’s just me.
#6 – Keeping foreign currencies
And last but not least, you can also keep your extra money in other country’s notes. Especially ‘valuable’ ones like the US Dollar, Euro, Japanese Yen and British Pounds. These are not ‘savings account’ in the literal sense, but rather if you feel keeping all your money in RM is risky.
How it works is simple: convert your excess RM into foreign currencies. If you need the cash, you can simply convert them back to RM. If
you’re good at macroeconomics luck is in your favour, the foreign currencies you kept may have strengthened against the RM.
(The reverse is true. It’s absolutely possible that the currencies may weakened against the RM. In this case, you would get less RM than what you started with)
The best place to keep foreign currencies, in my opinion, is via the Wise multi-currency account. You can hold 53 different currencies, and it even comes with a debit card so you can spend it easily.
#7 – Keep your money in cash
Once, I witnessed a young woman breaking down at an LRT station after she was informed her room was broken into and all her savings were gone. You probably have experienced this yourself, or know someone who had their money stolen this way.
I did, too, when I was younger. Hid some money in my room. It was stolen by my own family member.
(I’m embarrassed to admit I used to steal my mom’s money as well. Mak, Aya minta maaf!)
Please be careful when you save money with methods #5 (Gold), #6 (Foreign currencies) and in cash (RM). Please keep them safe, or avoid them totally, especially if you live in a high-crime area. Use the other methods in this list.
Now that you know where are the best savings accounts in Malaysia, we also have to cover the obvious fact that…
You can only save for rainy days if you earn enough
How to save money if you are making less than a living wage and/or your commitments are high, and everything you earn goes to necessities? You can’t.
This article is for those of you who are earning more than your core expenses, your financial commitments. If you are not, I’m sorry to say but you have no choice but to earn more, either from earning side income or from jobs with higher salaries. You may also try to increase your savings rate by radically save money on accommodation and food.
Forget all the ‘how to save more money’ advice – first of all, you probably are already good at budgeting, because you NEED to. Secondly, you can’t frugal your way out of low-income lifestyle. If unexpected emergency situations don’t kill you, rising cost of living will.
I realise this is easier said than done for some folks. Unfortunately, the system is not fair and unlikely to change. I can only wish you luck and hope you have the perseverance to make it.
Where would YOU save your money?
Are there any other best savings accounts in Malaysia that’s not in this list? Which methods do YOU personally use to save your money? Do you have bad experience with any of these methods? Do you agree or disagree with the ranking?
Let me know in the comments section, I’d love to hear from you!
I personally only do #1 (ASB). It’s the first thing I do every payday so that I don’t overspend. Other methods seem interesting too though I don’t like putting my money all over the place. Hard to keep track and more fees/charges. That’s just me tho 🙂
hi ! wondering if you think its a good idea to put in tabung haji as well ? and where would tabung haji be categorised under ?
Yeah I guess TH works too! Have edited in the article. Thanks so much for reminding!
thank you for crediting me , what an honour ! :’)
Btw suraya , your blog has been amazing especially to those who are still new to personal finances. I always recommend your blogs to my peers if they wanna learn about personal finances / investments / etc.
In a way , the way you share your content is more relatable to us , and I appreciate that !
I do have a question tho , I see a lot of people going into the stock market sector and I saw in your previous articles that you’re not involved in stocks that much. Is there any particular reasons why ? 🙂
ASB is so hard for non-bumi to invest in, it is like queuing up infront of Target for Black Friday sales.
Yes, that’s true. Yet many still don’t take advantage of it and fall to ponzi schemes because of financial illiteracy and trusting the wrong community leaders (ustads, teachers). It makes me angry
Do you know if there is any safety assurance and protection from fraud for such robo-advisory platforms? Thanks!
I don’t know exactly how it works, but in order to market to Malaysians, these companies must satisfy BNM and SC’s strict requirements. Can find out the requirements in respective websites
That being said, nothing is 100% foolproof, and a healthy sense of scepticism is always good, so they can enhance consumer protection 🙂
I’ve recently heard of you from your interview on BFM.
I am using SSPNi for my emergency fund. May I know your opinion on saving in SSPNi please?
PTPTN website in link above states that you can withdraw funds from SSPNi anytime, so I guess yeah you can use it as emergency funds, in theory.
I’m not sure if there are any, but I feel like there’s a catch somewhere, despite that link. After all SSPNi is devised and marketed as a financial tool for parents to save for their children’s education
edit: I found this article that states you must wait at least 3 years before you can withdraw the money out? https://therohani.com/cara-keluarkan-duit-sspn/
I think the 3 years clause is inaccurate. I did take out my kid’s one after a few months to invest elsewhere..
thank you for the useful feedback!
Is this a good idea to keep money/ invest if we open a foreign currency saving account? My friend opened 1 at HSBC.
Based on what I read, that’s not a bad idea, as a diversification strategy. Especially if you’re bearish on MYR. Be careful of their conversion rates and T&Cs though. I’m not familiar with foreign currency rates
Thanks for your excellent articles Suraya.
With regards to keeping foreign currencies, best to keep in safe-haven currencies such as USD, JPY, CHF…..not sure of other safe-haven currencies though….just learnt about it myself.
Thanks Bart 🙂 All the best to you
Hye, Suraya. What is your opinion on investment in equity? I would like to know since I’m a beginner.
Equity can be stocks, property etc. Many people already invest in those, either directly (ie buy stocks etc) or through mutual fund/unit trust/etf (like your EPF)
Go through my investing articles, lots of beginner-friendly investment guides. All the best!
Hi Suraya. I love to read your articles which was written by heart :-). Anyway, HelloGold for Malaysia and Thailand will be closed on 2nd February 2023. So for gold investment, maybe we’re left for Miga, Public Gold, QM,…. and no more Hellogold after the date. Maybe you want to update this article. Thanks.
Thank you for the good content. Keep up the good work!
Thanks for the kind comment Goh 🙂 Appreciate it
So far I’ve done ASB & gold. Gonna try Wise for Foreign currency next. I do need more guidance about it though. Gonna read up more.
All the best Sara 🙂