I tend to travel with a fixed amount of cash whenever I am out of Singapore, and use, where possible, a debit or credit card for my payments. I used to think that the banks do not offer really good exchange rates, but with the uncertain economy and foreign exchange nowadays, this seems to be quite negligible. In fact, there were also a couple of times when the exchange rates given by the banks are a whole lot better than what I would have gotten from a money changer.

Of course, there are times when I have to withdraw from my bank accounts in Singapore, and that’s when the great hunt for the Cirrus and Plus signs come. Even then, with some luck, the Auto Teller Machine (ATM) will display the remaining balance in my account after i make a withdraw. Most of the time, I don’t have such luck.

This is probably one of the reason why I carry a small netbook with me whenever I am overseas; and of course, not forgetting to purchase the country’s prepaid card (having said that, if you are travelling to Taipei, please remember to get your prepaid card from the airport because you will not be able to get it anywhere out of the airport without a local ID).

Having said that, I learnt about Citi Alerts over the radio because Citibank had been running their ad campaign prominently. I thought this was rather cool because an SMS is sent to me every time I make a transaction on my cards. For those of us who enjoy pubbing (“cheonging”) on Friday and Saturday nights, this is a great plus because there could be times when we don’t really know what our cards get swiped for. A friend of mine got his card swiped a few times a visit and he didn’t know about it even when the bill came. It was only when the staff was caught that he knew about it.

Tsk. Tsk.

However, when Citi Alerts came out, I was hoping for something better – such as having mobile banking facilities. After all, I had opened a new account with Citibank, which does not charge for sending you a replacement ATM card, nor levy a charge/fine for not maintaining a certain minimum balance in your account. Indeed, I think they have came a long way.

CitiMobile by CitiBank

CitiMobile by CitiBank

It was almost like a prophecy fulfilled, but Citibank recently launched their Citi Mobile – a service which allows me to carry functions as if I was logged into my Citibank Online Banking! It allows me to:

  1. Check my account balance (a big must if you like to keep tabs on your spending)
  2. Search for discounts (particular when some shops like to hide their Citi Privileges)
  3. Funds transfer (to allow me to pay back dinner money; or for me to pay for bills)
  4. Locate the nearest ATM and branches (to withdraw money for shops that do not accept credit or debit cards)

But best of all, Citi Mobile does not require me to sign up again if I have already signed up for Citibank’s Online Banking facilities; nor does it require me to download cumbersome applets or applications! This is a great plus for me because I keep losing track of my PINs whenever they are sent to me. With this auto-inclusion, I can just log into Citi Mobile (I’d like to personalise this and call this MyCiti… haha…) and have all the online functions as if I was logged into my netbook.

In fact, I found out about Citi Mobile by accident because I was trying to locate the nearest ATM; but the website that was loaded on my mobile phone kept asking me to log in. It was only after logging in that I realised that I had full-fledge facilities via my mobile phone, right at the tip of my fingers, indeed!

The CitiMobile Widget on the iPhone

The CitiMobile Widget on the iPhone

Now, I can really just leave my netbook in the hotel when I am overseas. The only thing I am hoping for is to get my hands on an iPhone because I think Citi Mobile looks really cool on the iPhone 3G[S].


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