Savings Accounts

Best Bank Accounts For Expats in Singapore 2018

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Joanne Poh

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As a new expat in Singapore, you’ve got probably got a long to-do list which might or might not include figuring out how to gain access to Marina Bay Sands’ infinity pool, checking out the zoo, figuring out where to live and opening a bank account.

The last item on that list being by far the least fun, we’ll help you out by comparing the various banking options most expats will want to consider.

Contents

  1. What banking services do you need?
  2. Which banks can expats open an account with?
  3. Bank account comparison
  4. Our top picks

 

What banking services do you need?

Expats in Singapore come in all shapes and sizes, and a 24-year-old first-jobber who’s living in a shareflat with four other people will have very different banking needs from a billionaire who’s here to stash his wealth.

But as a general rule, most expats will want to consider these banking services:

 

Savings account

No matter what your income level or employment status, you will need a basic bank account to stash your cash and for your day-to-day expenses. If you intend to use this account as your main spending account, you will want to ensure the bank has a decent ATM presence should you need to withdraw cash. Some savings accounts offer higher interest rates than others so you can grow your savings.

 

Current account

Current accounts are very similar to savings accounts, except that they make it easier to spend and usually pay little or no interest on your deposits. For instance, if you run out of money, you can usually overdraft a current account (which will lead to a negative balance), while not all savings accounts allow it. Current accounts also come with a cheque book. As with savings accounts, you will want to ensure your bank has enough ATM machines.

 

Multi-currency account

These accounts enable you to store savings in various currencies. If are coming to Singapore with some money in the currency of your home country but don’t wish to exchange it all, you can stash it in a multi-currency account.

 

Remittance services

Those who need to send money back home might want to use their bank’s remittance service. This can be done over the counter or by using your online banking’s overseas money transfer function.

 

Credit card

Whenever you pay by credit card, the bank pays on your behalf and you only pay your bills on a monthly basis. You are usually given a credit limit that’s a few times your monthly salary. That also means you can end up spending money you don’t have, so use with care. One of the key benefits of using credit cards is that banks often dangle lots of perks such as air miles, cashback and rewards.

 

Debit card

When you pay using a debit card, the amount spent is deducted instantly from your bank account. Debit cards are accepted wherever credit cards are.

 

ATM services and availability

Cash is still necessary to make purchases at most hawker centres and food courts, or to pay for a bus ride if your EZ-link card’s run out of money. As mentioned earlier, you will want to have a savings or current account with a bank that has a decent distribution of ATMs in the city.

 

Investment account

If your goal in coming to Singapore is simply to make lots of money, you will probably want to open an investment account. These are offered by banks and brokerages, and enable you to invest in a range of vehicles such as unit trusts, equities and so on.

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Which banks can expats open an account with?

Singapore being a financial centre and all, you might have noticed just how many banks have set up offices here. But only some of these banks provide personal banking services. The most popular banks in Singapore for expats and locals alike include:

  • POSB and DBS – These two local banks have merged and most of their services can be used interchangeably. POSB/DBS ATM machines are also the most widespread in Singapore.
  • UOB – Another local bank that has a decent ATM presence. ATM machines are interchangeable with OCBC’s.
  • OCBC – Local bank whose ATM machines are interchangeable with OCBCs.
  • Citibank
  • HSBC
  • Standard Chartered Bank
  • CIMB
  • RHB
  • Bank of China

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Bank account comparison

To make choosing between bank accounts easier for you, we’ve listed some of the more relevant offerings from each of these banks below.

Bank

Account name

Description

Currencies

Initial deposit

Fees

DBS

Multi-Currency Account

Account for SGD and 11 other currencies

SGD, AUD, CAD, Euro, HKD, Japanese Yen, NZD, Norwegian Kroner, GBP, Swedish Kroner, Thai Baht and USD

None

Monthly fall-below fee of $7.50 when your balance falls below the equivalent of 3,000 SGD

Multiplier Account

Savings account which offers up to 3.5% interest per annum when you credit your monthly salary and transact in two or more of the following categories adding up to at least $2,000 worth of transactions:

– credit card spending

– home loan instalments

– insurance

-investments

SGD

None

Monthly fall-below fee of $5 when your balance falls below $3,000

UOB

Global Currency Premium Account

Multi-currency account for SGD and 10 other currencies. Earn interest in USD, AUD, GBP, Japanese Yen, Euro and Swiss Franc.

SGD,  AUD CAD, Euro, NZD, Chinese Renminbi, Japanese Yen, USD, Swiss Franc, HKD

10,000 in respective currency, except for Japanese Yen where 1,000,000 yen is required

None

Passbook Savings Account

Regular savings account

SGD

$1,000

$2 if average daily balance for the month falls below $500

STASH Account

High interest account which rewards you with up to 1% on your savings. Get 0.05% on your first $10,000, 0.8% on your next $40,000 and 1% on your next $50,000 for every month you increase your monthly average balance.

SGD

$1,000

$2 if average daily balance for the month falls below $1,000

OCBC

Global Savings Account

Multi-currency account for SGD and 8 other currencies. Earn up to 1% on AUD, NZD, USD and Chinese RMB.

AUD, CAD, Chinese Renminbi, Euro, GBP, HKD, NZD and USD

5,000 AUD, CAD, CNH, EUR, GBP, NZD, USD; 50,000 HKD

None

360 Account

Bonus interest on your first $70,000 when you do at least one of the following:

– Credit your salary of at least $2,000

– Pay at least 3 bills online or through GIRO amounting to at least $!50

– Spend at least $500 on OCBC Credit Cards

Insure or invest with OCBC

SGD

$1,000

$2 if average daily balance for the month falls below $3,000 (waived for first year)

Bonus + Savings Account

Up to 0.8% interest when no withdrawals are made

SGD

$10,000

$2 if average daily balance for the month falls below $3,000 (waived for first year)

Monthly savings account

Up to 0.4% interest when you deposit a minimum of $50 and make no withdrawals within a month

SGD

$0

$2 if average daily balance for the month falls below $500 (waived for first year)

Citibank

Global Foreign Currency Account

Multi-currency account for 9 currencies. Checking facilities available for USD.

AUD, CAD, Euro, HKD, Japanese Yen, NZD, GBP, Swiss Franc, USD.

MaxiGain Savings Account

Earn up to 2% on savings if you meet criteria for growing your balance each month, with a minimum balance of $10,000

SGD

InterestPlus  Savings Account

Earn up to 1% bonus interest when you insure with Citibank, spend on Citibank credit cards and invest

SGD

MaxiSave Account

Interest-bearing checking account

SGD

Step-Up Account

Interest climbs from base rate of 0.01% to up to 0.13% when your balance increases in consecutive months

SGD

$15 if monthly average of $15,000 is  not met

Tap and Save Account

Receive 2% each time you top up your EZ-Link card, and 1% cash rebate at selected merchants. Earn up to 0.13% when your balance increases in consecutive months

SGD

$15 if monthly average of $15,000 is  not met

HSBC

Singapore Dollar Savings Account

Tiered interest with higher interest when you have at least $50,000

SGD

$1,000

$5 if average daily balance falls below $2,000 a month

Singapore Dollar Current Account

Free cheque book

SGD

$2,000

$7.50 if aveage daily balance falls below $3,000

Flexi Account

Combines savings and current account

SGD

$2,000

$10 if average daily balance falls below $5,000

Multi Currency Savings Account

Account for SGD and 10 other currencies

SGD, AUD, CAD, Euro, Japanese Yen, NZD, GBP, Swiss Franc, USD, HKD, Chinese RMB

100 SGD

$2 if average daily balance falls below equivalent of 2,000 SGD

Standard Chartered Bank

FCY$aver

Multi-currency account for 10 currencies. Offers interest for USD, GBP, AUD, NZD, Chinese RMB.

USD, Euro, GBP, AUD, NZD, Chinese RMB, Swiss Franc, CAD, HKD, Japanese Yen

2,000 USD  or equivalent / 25,000 RMB

5 AUD / 5 CAD / 5 CHF / 40 RMB / 3 EUR / 2 GBP / 30 HKD / 500 JPY / 5 NZD / 5 USD if average daily balance falls below 2,000 AUD / 2,000 CAD / 2,000 CHF / 15,500 RMB / 1,000 EUR / 1,000 GBP / 15,000 HKD / 200,000 JPY / 2,000 NZD / 2,000 USD

Bonus$aver

Up to 3.88% interest on first $100,000 deposit when you spend using SCB credit cards, credit your salary, buy insurance and pay at least 3 bills. Free cheque book.

SGD

$5 if average daily balance falls below $3,000

e$aver

Up to 1.25% interest when you grow your balance

SGD

$5 if average daily balance falls below $1,000

XtraSaver

Earn 7%  / 15% cashback on petrol, 1% / 3% on Mastercard transactions and with account balance of $6,000 / $200,000 and above

SGD

$5 if average daily balance falls below $3,000

SuperSalary

1% cashback on eligible MasterCard spending using SuperSalary debit card. Free cheque book.

SGD

Singapore Dollar Cheque & Save Account

Combines savings and current account. Free cheque book.

SGD

$5,000

$7.50 if average daily balance falls below $5,000

CIMB

Foreign Currency Account

Account for 5 currencies

USD, Euro, GBP, AUD, Japanese Yen

USD 1,000 / EUR 1,000 / GBP 1,000 / AUD 1,000 / JPY 500,000

10 USD if average daily balance falls below 1,000 USD

$1 monthly account fee (waived if opt out of paper statements)

FastSaver Account

High interest savings account offering 1% on first $50,000 when you have at least $1,000

SGD

$1,000

StarSaver (Savings) Account

Interest rate 0.8% on entire account balance when you have at least $1,000

SGD

$1,000

StarSaver Account

Current account offering 0.8% interest when you have at least $5,000

SGD

$5,000

RHB

High-Yield Savings Account

High interest savings account offering 0.08% on amounts below $10,000, and 1% on next $90,000

SGD

$10 if average daily balance falls below $500 per month

Bank of China

Multi-Currency Savings Account

Account for SGD and 10 other currencies

SGD, RMB, USD, Euro, GBP, NZD, AUD, Japanese Yen, CAD, HKD, Swiss Francs

$1,500

$3 if monthly average balance in SGD sub-account is less than $1,500

SGD Savings Account

Savings account offering 0.25% to 0.475% interest.

SGD

$1,000

$2 if monthly average balance falls below $2,000

Current Account

Non-interest bearing current account available in SGD and 10 other currencies.

SGD, RMB, USD, Euro, GBP, NZD, AUD, Japanese Yen, CAD, HKD, Swiss Francs

$1,000

$7.50 if monthly average balance falls below $3,000

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Our top picks

Which bank accounts would best serve your interests depends on factors such as your income, the amount of savings you have and which currencies you’re using.

Here are our recommendations.

 

Best account for withdrawing cash from ATMs: UOB STASH Account

While UOB/OCBC do not have as many ATM machines as POSB/DBS, they come in a close second, and their machines usually have much shorter queues. The UOB STASH Account stands out because it’s a savings account that offers a decent interest rate without penalising you for making withdrawals, so long as you grow your balance over time.

 

Best account to keep your savings in: CIMB FastSaver Account

So, you’re in Singapore to make money, you say? Then you’ll want to open a CIMB FastSaver Account to store that all that cash in. The account offers an unbeatable 1% interest rate on your very first dollar. The main drawback is that the 1% interest rate only applies to the first $50,000, after which you’ll receive 0.6%, which is admittedly still decent by Singapore standards. However, after crossing the $50,000 threshold, you can always open another account that will give you a better interest rate for your remaining cash savings.

 

Best multi-currency account: OCBC Global Savings Account

The OCBC Global Savings Account does not charge fall-below fees. So long as you make an initial deposit of 5,000 in your desired currency (50,000 for HKD), you are free to withdraw as much as you like.

That’s good news for those who are holding on to certain currencies until the exchange rate becomes more favourable, as you’re free to exchange and withdraw all of it without worrying about fall below fees.

As an added bonus, the account also pays interest on AUD, NZD and RMB. AUD and NZD savings get 0.25% on the first $100,000 and 0.40% on the next 250,000 units, while the first 1,500,000 RMB gets 0.20%.

Related:

Rent In Singapore 2018 – Cost Guide To Renting A Room Or Home

3 Types of Bank Accounts You Should Consider Opening This New Year

The Expat’s Guide to Personal Finance in Singapore

The Expat’s Guide to Getting a Prepaid SIM Card in Singapore

Remittance from Singapore – Expats’ Guide To Cheaper Overseas Money Transfers

Have you used a Singapore bank account before? Share your reviews in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.