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Economy & Finance

Banks in Singapore

When it comes to choosing a bank, expats in Singapore will be spoiled for choice. Our brief guide to banking in Singapore explains the differences between various types of banks and bank accounts. We also help you with opening an account and finding the right bank to suit your needs.

Singapore is an important financial hub in Southeast Asia. The financial and insurance industries make a large contribution to the city state’s tertiary economy and offer various employment opportunities for the job search in Singapore. There is no shortage of banks in Singapore that cater to local customers, permanent residents, and foreign residents alike.

All banks in Singapore are subject to the Monetary Authority. It operates as a central bank for the tiny nation, as the financial agent of the government, and as a regulator for the local currency, finance, insurance, and securities. Moreover, any bank in Singapore is bound by the legal framework of the Banking Act. It applies to the various kinds of financial institutions active in the metropolis.

Different Types of Banks

When it comes to the different types of banks in Singapore, there are two major distinctions you need to make.

Savings Accounts and Current Accounts

How do you proceed if you want to open an account with a bank in Singapore? First of all, you should know if you want a savings account as well as a regular bank account.

If you would like to open a savings account or refer to a bank in Singapore for wealth management will simply depend on your personal situation (assets, needs, planned length of stay, etc.). Unfortunately, it is beyond the scope of this article to give such detailed financial advice. We can but strongly recommend that you talk to your bank back home or to an independent advisor before moving to Singapore. There is definitely no lack of banks in Singapore that can provide various savings plans or investment schemes for foreign residents.

For everyday financial matters, like receiving salary, paying rent, or withdrawing cash, a current account (also called “chequing account”) is sufficient. However, though there is no limit on cash imports or transactions from abroad, you should not deposit large sums in this kind of account.

Current accounts have low interest rates or none at all, while Singapore has a fairly high inflation rate. In 2010, it was an estimated 2.8%, rising to over 5% in 2011. The interest on a current account does not even remotely equal the slow, but steady loss via inflation. Also, only bank deposits up to SGD 50,000 are covered by Singapore’s deposit insurance. Account deposits in foreign currency and offshore accounts are not insured at all.

 In the second part of this article, we’ll tell you how to find a bank to best suit your needs and how to open an account.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

InterNations Expat Magazine