Savings Accounts

Think All Bank Accounts Are Created Equal? 3 Critical Factors to Consider Before Choosing a Bank


Jeff Cuellar



When it comes to choosing a bank account in Singapore, there’s certainly no shortage of options – this city is a banking and finance hub after all. All together, there are more than 30 local and foreign banks in Singapore just waiting for you to walk through the door to open an account.

But should you just deposit your hard-earned cash into just any bank? That’s a question that if left unanswered – could end up costing both time and money. However, a little bit of research and fact-finding will go a long way towards making a good decision.

Here are 3 critical factors you should look at when choosing a bank:


#1 Look at the Monthly Fees for Having a Bank Account

You already know that banks make much of their revenue from lending, but another source of income that most people don’t realise (and would be pissed off if they did) are fees – I’m talking about fees for everything from failing to maintain a certain balance or any “extra” services on your account.

You’ll never hear about fees when opening an account. So instead of finding out about them the hard way, spend some time to go through a bank’s website to see what sort of banking fees you can expect.

Here are several fees you should look out for when choosing a bank account (especially a current account):

  • Overdraft/Cashline Fees: There’s no real reason why you should have to regularly overdraft/top-up your account balance. If you do, it might point to an *ahem* spending problem. Using these “extra” comes at a price though, usually in the form of added interest to whatever you “borrow”.
  • Minimum Balance Requirement Fees: Many banks will charge you a “fall-below minimum balance fee” if you fail to maintain a certain amount in your account. For example, a bank might charge you $10 for every month that your account is below $10,000. That can add up if your account is consistently below the minimum balance requirement.
  • Online Banking/Paper Statement Fees: Many banks offer free online banking, but don’t assume every bank does as some might charge a nominal fee. Also, some banks might charge you another small fee for mailing your paper statement – going paperless will typically solve this.
  • Transaction Fees: You might have to pay a fee every time you withdraw cash from a savings account or you make a transaction in foreign currency.


#2 Look at the Availability of Branches and ATMs

In Singapore, there’s one major reason why most people choose a local bank – availability. Seriously, who wants to visit the CBD area when you have a banking issue when there’s a local bank branch office or ATM machine within walking distance?

Availability is critical when it comes to banking in Singapore.

If you’re an expat in Singapore who wants to use the same bank from your home country (ex. Bank of America, Citibank, Bank of India, etc.), you’ll probably be in for a rude awakening when it comes to availability – as branches and ATMs are about as rare as a cheap car.

Unless you live and work close to a foreign bank’s branch office (or have online banking), it’s definitely more convenient to go local.


#3 Look at the Interest Rates of Savings Accounts, Balance Limits on Interest and Perks

Let me ask you a question – how much do you know about your savings account? If you can confidently state the interest rate, balance limits on interest and the perks you get for maintaining a certain balance, bravo – you can skip this point.

If you have no idea what your savings account offers, you’ll want to check out the following:

  • The Savings Account Interest Rate: If you simply just went to a bank’s branch counter and asked for a savings account, you might be selling yourself short on a mediocre savings account that only earns 0.01% to 0.05% interest. That’s because there are many savings accounts out there offering exponentially better interest rates on your savings (0.40% to 1%+).
  • The Interest Rate Balance Limits: You’ll also want to look at any balance limits on interest. For example, a savings account might give you 0.75% interest on a balance of up to $30,000 but will drop to 0.50% for any balance over that amount. Alternately, some savings accounts offer increasing interest rates on larger balance limits.
  • The Savings Account Perks: One last thing – see if the savings account offers and perks. Some banks will offer “free” perks such as free travel or personal accident insurance, depending on your balance amount. Also, some banks offer freebies such as electronics, watches and vouchers if you open a savings account with a certain balance.

For more information on what the best savings accounts out there are, don’t forget to check out our article Your Savings Account Sucks. Here are Some That Don’t – 2014 Edition.


Final Note: If you have plenty of cash to deposit into a bank, it’s worth keeping note that licensed banks in Singapore insure your account up to $50,000 under the Deposit Insurance Scheme (DIS). The DIS also covers any bank deposits under the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Investment and Minimum Sum schemes up to $50,000 as well.

While it’s highly unlikely that banks (especially local banks) will collapse, if you really want to play it safe, it might be worth considering spreading your wealth to multiple bank accounts.

Of course, that’s not the only reason to have multiple bank accounts – we’ll be coming out with an article soon on why you should have multiple bank accounts. So stay tuned with us on Facebook!


What do you look for when choosing a bank to hold your hard-earned cash? Share your thoughts with us here!


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Jeff Cuellar

I'm known by many titles: copywriter, published author, literary connoisseur, ex- U.S. Army intelligence analyst, and Champion of Capua.