If you’re in urgent need of money, but are too paiseh to borrow from your family and friends, your best bet is probably a personal loan.
With a personal loan, you borrow cash from a bank or financial institution and pay them back in fixed instalments over an agreed period. But you’d typically need to meet a minimum income requirement and the bank will check your credit history.
Still, it’s generally much cheaper and safer to get a personal loan from a bank rather than engage a moneylender. Here’s a look at the personal loans with the lowest interest rates in Singapore right now.
- At a glance: Best personal loans in Singapore
- What do interest rate, EIR and processing fees mean?
- UOB Personal Loan
- Standard Chartered CashOne
- Citibank Quick Cash (New Customers)
- DBS/ POSB Personal Loan
- HSBC Personal Loan
- Which personal loan should you choose?
- Term loan vs credit line—which should you choose?
- Being in debt is not fun…
1. At a glance: Best personal loans in Singapore (Aug 2023)
Here are the current starting interest rates on offer from the most popular personal loan providers in Singapore. We’ll use the example of a Singapore citizen earning $2,500 a month, who wants to borrow $10,000 and repay it over 3 years.
|Personal loan||Interest rate and Effective Interest Rate (EIR)||Processing fee||Monthly repayment||Eligibility (Citizenship+ annual income)|
|UOB Personal Loan||3.88% (EIR 7.29%)||0%||$310||– Singapore Citizen/PR: $30,000
– UOB Credit Card/CashPlus customer
|Standard Chartered CashOne||3.48% (EIR: 6.95%)||0%||$307||– Singapore Citizen/PR: $20,000
– Foreigner: $60,000
|Citibank Quick Cash (New Customers)||3.45% (EIR: 6.5%)||0%||$307||
– Singaporean/PR: $30,000
|DBS/ POSB Personal Loan||3.88% (EIR 7.9%)||$100||$310||– Singapore Citizen/PR: $20,000
– Foreigners with existing Cashline and/or Credit Card account: $20,000
– Existing DBS customers
|HSBC Personal Loan||4.0% (EIR: 7.5%)||0%||$311||
– Singaporean/PR: $30,000 for salaried workers, $40,000 for self-employed or commission-based workers
Not mentioned in this table is OCBC’s ExtraCash personal loan which brings you up to 5.43% interest rate (EIR 11.47%) amounting to $323 monthly repayment with a $100 processing fee.
2. Hold up. What do interest rate, EIR and processing fees mean?
There’s quite a bit of jargon here, so let’s go through some points of confusion that may be swimming around in your head.
Interest rates: Notice that interest rates are quoted as “from X%” instead of being stated simply as “X%”? That’s because personal loans are pretty dynamic as they all depend on factors such as
- Your credit history
- How much you want to borrow (the loan amount)
- For how long (called the loan tenure)
Banks often personalise your interest rate when you submit an application, so, typically, you’ll see the final interest rate only after your application is approved.
EIR: EIR stands for Effective Interest Rate. Taking into consideration other fees (like processing fee; see next point) and the loan repayment schedule, it is a more accurate reflection of the cost of borrowing than the advertised interest rates.
Processing fee: This is the main hidden cost of personal loans and is worth highlighting. The processing fee is deducted from the principal—meaning, for a $10,000 loan with a $100 (or 1%) processing fee, you get only $9,900 in cash. As a borrower, you might not “feel” it, but it does eat into your funds and increase the cost of borrowing.
Now, let’s walk through the 5 personal loan packages highlighted.
3. UOB Personal Loan
- Interest Rate*
- Total Amount Payable
- Processing Fee
- Per Month
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UOB’s personal loan is only open to existing UOB credit card or CashPlus customers who are Singaporeans, PRs aged 21 to 65. You’ll also need to be a salaried worker earning at least $30,000 a year. Not an existing UOB customer? You’ll have to get a UOB credit card or CashPlus to apply for a UOB Personal Loan.
The interest rate is 3.77% p.a. for a 12-month loan period, with a 6.89% p.a. EIR. For other loan periods of 24, 36, 48 or 60 months, the interest rate is fixed at 3.88%p.a. with an EIR between 7.21% to 7.29% p.a..
While UOB used to only waive processing fees for loan periods 24 months and up, processing fees are now waived for all loan periods.
If you’re an existing UOB customer, you can get instant approval when you apply for your personal loan online.
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4. Standard Chartered CashOne
- Interest Rate*
- Total Amount Payable
- Processing Fee
- Per Month
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Standard Chartered CashOne personal loan is open to Singapore Citizens, PRs and foreigners with a Singapore Employment Pass aged 21 to 65.
The barriers to entry for the Standard Chartered CashOne personal loan are slightly lower than for other banks. The minimum annual income requirements are $20,000 for Singaporeans and PRs (that’s lower than for other banks!) and $60,000 for foreigners. You also don’t necessarily need to be a salaried worker to apply—Standard Chartered is cool with salaried employees, variable/commission-based employees, and even self-employed individuals.
You can apply for this personal loan online by signing in through SingPass and receive your loan disbursement within 15 minutes. There’s no need to be an existing Standard Chartered customer to get this personal loan.
So, it’s fast, but is it also cheap? Standard Chartered charges an initial annual fee of $199 (deducted from your approved loan) for any loan tenure between 1 to 5 years. From the second year onwards, you won’t have to pay any more annual fees—UNLESS you miss any instalments, in which case you will pay $50 in annual fees for that year. Plus the late payment fee of $100. Lesson learnt: Don’t miss your payments!
Because of the $199 fee, CashOne is more worthwhile if you’re taking out a big loan. A $10,000 loan would mean you’d be paying a fee worth 1.99% of your principal amount.
Interest rates are being advertised as starting from 3.48%, working out to an EIR of 6.95% and above. In reality, interest rates are personalised, so yours might differ from this example.
Standard Chartered CashOne promotion
From now until 31 Aug 2023, apply via MoneySmart to receive up to S$1,120 cash or an Apple iPad Pro 11-inch M2 Chip Wi-Fi, 128GB (worth S$1,260.25). Plus, up to S$3,100 cashback from Standard Chartered.
5. Citibank Quick Cash (New Customers)
The 3.45% (EIR: 6.5%) Citibank Quick Cash is only available to customers who are completely new to Citibank loans. If you already have a Citibank loan, you’ll be given a higher interest rate.
Just log into the Citi Mobile App, key in the amount of cash you need and you can get the funds instantly.
Citi Quick Cash is open to Singapore Citizens and PRs (salaried or self-employed) with a minimum annual income of $30,000, and foreigners with an annual income of at least $42,000. The eligible age range is 21 to 65 years.
With Citibank’s Quick Cash personal loan, you can choose a tenure of 12, 24, 36, 48, or 60 months—all with zero processing fees. You can get 3.56% interest rate on Citibank’s personal loan with a shorter 1-year tenure, or 3.45% if you intend to drag your loan repayment to 3 years. While the interest rates differ according to tenure period, you’ll get an EIR of 6.5% for all.
That said, don’t take our word for it. Rates are customised, so what you get might not be exactly the same as the above examples.
Do note that these rates are only for new Citi Credit Card or Citibank Ready Credit account holders. Existing customers have their own rates, and can apply for a personal loan via the Citi Mobile App without the need to provide any additional documents.
6. DBS/POSB Personal Loan
DBS’s personal loan is only open to existing DBS customers. If you already have DBS Cashline or a DBS credit card or currently credit your salary into a DBS or POSB deposit account, you can get the cash disbursed instantly.
The loan is open to Singaporeans and PRs, as well as foreigners with DBS Cashline or credit card accounts. You must be aged 21 to 75 years with a minimum annual income of $20,000—this opens up DBS personal loans to include slightly older groups of people and lower income earners compared to other banks.
Like the Standard Chartered CashOne loan, you don’t need to earn a regular salary to be eligible for this loan. Self-employed individuals and commission earners can also apply.
DBS’s personal loan promises interest rates as low as 3.88%. There is a processing fee of 1%, bringing the lowest possible EIR to 7.9%. Loan tenures of 6 months to 5 years are available.
As usual, these are the lowest possible rates and the actual interest rate depends on what DBS is prepared to extend to you. The maximum possible EIR is 20.01%.
7. HSBC Personal Loan
HSBC’s personal loan is open to Singaporeans and PRs aged 21 to 65 years old with an annual income of $30,000 and above for salaried workers, and $40,000 for self-employed or commission-based workers. Foreigners must earn at least $40,000 a year and have an employment pass with at least 6 months’ validity.
The best part about HSBC’s personal loan is its long loan tenure of up to 7 years—currently the longest loan tenure in Singapore. So if you need to borrow a large sum but can’t afford high monthly repayments, HSBC’s personal loan is definitely one you should consider.
On the downside, HSBC’s interest rates aren’t the lowest. With advertised interest rates starting from 4% p.a., the EIR ranges from 7.5% p.a. to 15% p.a.. Remember, however, that actual interest rates will vary from person to person.
Another factor to consider is that HSBC’s personal loan comes with an annual fee of $60, and only the first year’s fee is waived.
8. Which personal loan should you choose?
If you’re just looking for the cheapest personal loan, the UOB Personal Loan and Standard Chartered CashOne personal loan are your best bets. Citibank’s Quick Cash is also a good option to consider if you’re a new Citi customer.
That said, remember that the actual interest rate a bank offers you will depend on factors like your credit history, how much you want to borrow and for how long. So if you don’t get offered the lowest advertised interest rates with one bank, you might want to compare that with what the other banks are willing to offer you.
There are certain groups of individuals that may have a harder time taking out a personal loan.
- Older individuals: you’re above 65 years old, the DBS will let you apply for a personal loan up to the age of 75 years.
- Those earning an annual income below $30,000: The DBS Personal Loan and Standard Chartered CashOne both have a lower minimum annual income requirement of $20,000.
- Commission-based workers or self-employed individuals: Citibank Quick Cash, HSBC Personal Loan, DBS Personal Loan and Standard Chartered CashOne are good options. Some other banks may only accept salaried workers.
On the other hand, if you don’t need the cash fast but do need a long tenure period to repay a large loan amount, HSBC’s personal loan currently offers the longest tenure in Singapore of 7 years.
Whatever personal loan package you choose, opt for the smallest loan amount and shortest term you can comfortably manage. This will keep your interest payments to a minimum.
9. Term loan vs credit line—which should you choose?
While researching personal loans, you might have come across many different loan types, some of which do not seem to fit what we described above.
MoneySmart lists only term personal loans, which is when you borrow a fixed sum with a fixed repayment plan that you agree on before you see the cash.
We usually recommend these loans because they have much lower interest rates. You can pay back slowly and steadily at a pace comfortable to your financial situation.
Many banks also offer a personal line of credit — sometimes called a credit line, revolving loan, or even “flexible repayment loan”.
This is a pre-approved amount of money you can cash out in part or whole, but you need to repay it ASAP or else face sky-high interest rates. Don’t fall for it unless you’re absolutely confident you can pay the money back immediately.
These days, most banks base their personal loans on either your personal line of credit or credit card limit. So you will need either a credit card or credit line to get the loan. However, it is still considered a term loan if it comes with a structured repayment plan.
But before you sign up, understand that your credit cards with this bank will be as good as dead because you’ll have effectively “spent” your credit on a cash loan.
10. Being in debt is not fun…
But it can be prevented. If you must take out a loan, channel all your energies into paying it off on time to avoid late charges. In the meantime, re-examine your income and budget, making a note of everything you spend on, so you won’t have to resort to loans again.
Ideally, you should draw up a budget that gives you enough leeway to set aside some cash for the future without starving to death.
You should also build up an emergency fund worth a few months’ expenses. If you’re hit with unforeseen circumstances, you can dip into this fund instead of having to take a loan.
It’s also a good idea to know what types of insurance you need. We recommend hospitalisation insurance at a bare minimum, and life insurance if you have dependents. Being sufficiently insured ensures that you don’t get hit with huge bills if the unexpected happens.
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