Singapore

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Opening a Bank Account 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 accounts. We also help you with opening an account, and finding the right bank to suit your needs.
UOB Singapore is a local bank with lots of ATMs and participation in the NETS cashless payment scheme.

To get a current or checking account in Singapore, select the bank of your choice and give them a call to find out which documents to bring.

Getting Your Paperwork in Order

Usually, foreign residents, as opposed to citizens or permanent residents, need to show some or all of the following:

  • a valid passport
  • a valid work visa or Employment Pass
  • a proof of address (e.g. utility bill or tenancy agreement)
  • an official letter from your employer
  • a letter of reference from your bank at home

Unfortunately, traveling spouses who only have a Dependent Pass cannot open a bank account of their own. They normally share a joint account with their working husband or wife. The couple needs to open their joint account together. Each partner should bring the Employment Pass or Dependent Pass, respectively.

Provided you have the necessary documents, setting up the account is a relatively fast process. However, you may have to wait for up to five working days until you can use your new debit or credit card.

Finding the Right Bank for You

How do you choose among the many banks in Singapore? As explained on the previous page, any local bank or “full foreign bank”/”qualifying full bank” will do. They provide the usual financial services for all accountholders, though foreign residents may get more conservative limits for credit cards, withdrawals, overdrafts, etc.

Often, banks cooperate with large companies or universities, promoting their services to employees or students. If your employer does not participate in a similar cooperation, ask your foreign colleagues for their recommendations.

Generally speaking, criteria for selecting a bank for your checking account include the following factors:

  • Availability of service locations and ATMs: Most foreign banks in Singapore have only a restricted number of branch offices and free-of-charge ATMs. If that is a priority for you, check beforehand which banks are close to your workplace and/or accommodation. For instance, ANZ, Bank of China, Citibank, HSBC, Maybank, Standard Chartered, and the State Bank of India form the so-called ATM 5 network. Account holders can pick from a network of about 140 ATMs with the ATM 5 logo and enjoy free cash withdrawal. Among local banks, DBS and the former POBS have the largest citywide network, with about 900 ATMs.
  • Availability of cashless payment services:  Standard Chartered and several Singaporean banks participate in the NETS electronic payment scheme. A NETS ATM card from these banks allows you to pay at countless retail stores without incurring extra fees. Of course, you can get other (non-NETS) debit cards and credit cards from any bank.
  • Extended opening hours: Common opening hours for Singaporean banks are 08:00 to 15:00, or 09:15 to 16:45 pm on Monday to Friday, and 09:30 to 11:30 or 12:30 on Saturday. A few banks are open for longer and are available on Sunday, too.
  • Online banking services: as well as the now standard 24/7 online banking, some banks also provide their customers with mobile apps, or the ability to receive alerts and make certain transactions via text message.
  • Minimum deposits and income: To even open an account and/or to avoid paying “fall-below” fees, you may need a minimum deposit, a minimum average balance, or a regular minimum income. These sums vary from bank to bank and during special offers.
  • Fees and charges: Take the time to study a bank’s list of general fees carefully and think about frequent transactions you make. There can be charges for local and international transfers, for standing orders, general account fees, getting a second checkbook, and more. 

 

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

Donald Moore

"I moved to Singapore to build up my own business. In fact, it was easier than expected. With InterNations I quickly got in touch with the lively expat community here."

Barbara Sciera

"Settling as an expat woman in a different culture is always hard. But with InterNations I got to know many other expat spouses that helped me."

Expat Guide Singapore

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