An Expat’s Guide To Opening A Bank Account In Singapore

An Expat’s Guide To Opening A Bank Account In Singapore

Packing up to work and live in another country can be exciting.

Dealing with the administrative headaches of the transition, however, is less so. Not to worry; here’s a quick rundown on one of the most important things you’ll need to strike off from your to-do list when you arrive: opening a bank account.

First, ask yourself these questions

If you’re looking to open a bank account in Singapore, you have plenty of choices, from local banks like DBSPOSBOCBC and UOB, to foreign ones like CitibankHSBC and Standard Chartered. Local banks tend to have the most ATMs, with DBS and POSB the topping the list as their ATMs are interchangeable.

Here’s what you have to consider when choosing a bank:

  • Do you need to make international transfers? If you need to transfer money overseas regularly, you’ll want to look at the fees your bank will charge, whether or not you can transfer to other banks and how fast a transfer can be completed.
  • Do you need to store your savings in multiple currencies? If you don’t want to convert all your currency to the Singaporean dollar immediately, or if you need to make regular transactions in your local currency, a multi-currency or foreign currency account will allow you to store cash in more than one currency.
  • Does the bank have a presence in your home country? If you have an account with the same bank in your home country, you may be charged less fees for international transfers between accounts. Additionally, if your bank has many branch locations internationally, it’s more convenient to withdraw cash, as well as more cost-effective, as fees may be lower or waived when you withdraw from your bank’s ATM.

What types of accounts can you open?

Here are some of the types of bank accounts you can open in Singapore:

  1. Current/checking account. A current or checking account offers easy access to money that you need for daily transactions. You can use these accounts to deposit small amounts of cash and make payments by cheque, internet banking and debit card. However, they typically have zero or close to zero interest rates. 
  1. Savings account. Savings accounts are good for keeping emergency funds or short-term savings. They typically have interest rates between 0.10% and 0.50% – however, some banks provide tiered interest rates if you meet certain criteria, such as depositing a minimum balance or you crediting your salary to the account. Standard Chartered’s Bonus$aver, for instance, provides an interest rate of up to 3.88%.
  1. Fixed/time deposit. These accounts generally give out higher interest rates than savings accounts. However, they’re more suited towards long-term savings, as you’ll have to deposit your money without accessing it for a certain amount of time (i.e. 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, etc). If you withdraw your money before the tenure is up, you’ll be penalised with lower or zero interest rates. 
  1. Multi-currency/foreign currency account. These accounts allow you to hold multiple currencies in a single account. This means that you can make international transactions without incurring additional foreign exchange costs, or avoid having your money converted when the Singaporean dollar is weak. Multi-currency or foreign currency accounts also typically provide access to preferential foreign exchange rates, as well as allow you to make international transactions at zero or lower fees, compared to regular accounts.

What do you need to open an account?

As an expat, you’ll generally need the following documents to open an account:

  • A copy of your passport
  • A copy of your Employment Pass
  • Proof of residence (e.g. bank, mobile or utility statements), typically a few months of records

You may also need an initial deposit sum. For regular savings and checking accounts, the minimum deposit is typically around S$1,000, if any. However, for multi-currency or foreign currency accounts, the minimum can go up to US$25,000 or its equivalent.

Comparison of bank accounts in Singapore

If you’re looking to open an SGD-denominated account, check out iMoney’s listings for comparisons of savings and fixed/time deposit accounts.

On the other hand, if you’re considering a multi-currency or foreign currency account, these are available to you in Singapore:

BankAccount nameMinimum depositCurrenciesNotes
Bank of ChinaMulti-Currency Savings AccountS$1,500SGD and nine other foreign currencies 
Current AccountS$1,000 SGD, RMB, USD, EUR, GBP, NZD, AUD, JPY, CAD, HKD, CHF
CIMBForeign Currency Fixed Deposit AccountUSD 10,000
GBP 10,000
AUD 10,000
NZD 10,000
EUR 10,000
CAD 10,000
CNH 10,000
USD, GBP, AUD, NZD, EUR, CAD, CNH 
Foreign Currency Current AccountUSD 1,000
EUR 1,000
GBP 1,000
AUD 1,000
JPY 500,000
USD, AUD, EUR, GBP, JPYUnlimited free cheque books for your USD account
CitibankCitiAccessUS$10,000USDFirst cheque book is free
US$ Savings AccountUS$10,000 USD
US$ Checking AccountUS$5,000USDFirst cheque book is free
 Global Foreign Currency AccountAUD, CAD, EUR, HKD, JPY, NZD, GBP, CHF, USDPay using your Citibank Debit Card at point-of-sale or online, at no additional currency conversion fee

 

Access foreign currencies at Citi ATMs worldwide with no additional processing fee
DBSMulti-Currency Account (MCA) SGD and 12 other foreign currenciesSame-day transfers at zero or lower fees when you remit funds online to countries like Australia, China, Canada, Eurozone countries, Hong Kong, UK, USA and others
Fixed Deposit – Foreign Currency USD, GBP, AUD, CAD, NZD, CHF, JPY, CNY, HKD, EUR
HSBCForeign Currency Current AccountUS$5,000 or equivalentUSD, GBP, AUD, HKD, JPY, EUR, NZDFree cheque book for USD current account
Foreign Currency Time DepositUSD 25,000
GBP 25,000
CHF 25,000
JPY 10 million
AUD 25,000
HKD 100,000
CAD 25,000
NZD 25,000
EUR 25,000
CNY 250,000
USD, GBP, CHF, JPY, AUD, HKD, CAD, NZD, EUR, CNY
Multi Currency Savings AccountS$2,000 or equivalentAUD, CAD, EUR, JPY, NZD, GBP, CHF, USD, HKD, CNYAble to make instant worldwide transfers to your other HSBC accounts
MaybankForeign Currency Current AccountUS$1,000 or equivalentUSD, AUD, NZDFree cheque book for USD current account
Foreign Currency Time Deposit10,000 units for USD, GBP, AUD, NZD, CAD, CHF, EUR; 2.5 million units for JPY USD, GBP, AUD, NZD, CAD, CHF, EUR, JPY
iSAVvy Foreign Currency Time Deposit10,000 units for all foreign currencies AUD, EUR, NZD, GBP, USD
OCBCUSD Current AccountUS$1,000USDFor existing OCBC Savings Account, Current Account and Online Banking customers
Global Savings Account5,000 units for AUD, CAD, CNH, EUR, GBP, NZD, USD;

50,000 units for HKD
AUD, CAD, CNH, EUR, GBP, NZD, USD, HKDNo fee imposed for falling below minimum balance
Time Deposit (Fixed Deposit)AUD 5,000
CAD 5,000
CHF 5,000
EUR 5,000
GBP 5,000
NZD 5,000
SGD 5,000
USD 5,000
HKD 50,000
CNH 50,000
JPY 500,000
 AUD, CAD, CHF, EUR, GBP, NZD, SGD, USD, HKD, CNH, JPY
UOBGlobal Currency Premium Account10,000 units for USD, AUD, EUR, NZD, GBP, CAD, CNH;

1 million units for JPY
USD, AUD, EUR, NZD, GBP, CAD, JPY, CNH 
Foreign Currency Fixed DepositUSD 5,000
AUD 5,000
GBP 5,000
CAD 5,000
EUR 5,000
NZD 5,000
CHF 5,000
JPY 500,000
HKD 200,000
USD, AUD, GBP, CAD, EUR, NZD, CHF, JPY, HKDAn introducer is required if a non-resident individual wishes to open an account
Global Currency AccountUSD 1,000
GBP 650
EUR 900
AUD 1,700
CAD 1,700
NZD 2,000
HKD 7,800
JPY 150,000
CHF 1,500
CNH 5,000
USD, AUD, NZD, EUR, CAD, JPY, GBP, CHF, HKD, CNYAn introducer is required if a non-resident individual wishes to open an account
Standard Chartered BankFCY$averUS$2,000 or equivalentUSD, EUR, GBP, AUD, NZD, CNH, CHF, CAD, HKD, JPY 
Foreign Currency Time DepositsUSD 5,000
GBP 5,000
AUD 5,000
CAD 25,000
EUR 5,000
HKD 25,000
NZD 5,000
CHF 25,000
CNH 25,000
USD, GBP, AUD, NXD, EUR, CAD, HKD, CNH

What’s next?

Other financial considerations you’ll have to take into account include what types of properties you can rent or buy, whether or not you’ll need to pay income tax and getting your first local credit card.

If you’re feeling intimidated by the move, don’t worry – Singapore is pretty expat-friendly, and there’s a large expat community online that you can refer to for help. Check out forums such as Singapore Expats and Expat Singapore to trade tips and anecdotes.

(Visited 39 times, 2 visits today)

Leave your comment

Comments