Banking in Singapore - What to know when selecting a bank account

Aug 13, 2014 3:58:00 PM / by Vu Long Tran

There are a variety of different banks in Singapore that you can bank with. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses and may work well with you depending on what you plan on doing with your money.
Drive-thru ATM in Singapore's West

This is a quick guide and list of considerations for you to think about.

Documentation - When you would like to open a bank account in Singapore, you will need to bring the documents with you:

  • IC (Identification Card) - You will need your identification card to set up for an account. Employment Pass (in-principle letter is generally not accepted) for foreigners. For locals (Singaporeans citizens and PR), you will just need your IC (Identification Card). 
  • Passport - You will also need to bring your passport if you are a foreigner
  • Minimum initial deposit: The initial deposit ranges from $1,000 to $3,000 SGD, depending on which bank you choose.
Considerations - Here are some things to think about when you are looking to select your own bank account:
  • Interest rates: These will vary. Right now it is around the 0.5-1% mark
  • Minimum account fees - Fees if bank account amount falls below a particular amount (normally minimum $500 SGD)
  • Transferring money overseas - Do you want to travel money into or out of Singapore? If so, it may be worth considering banking with a global bank as they often let you transfer between countries for free or at a very low rate. Though, I have noticed that some local banks, while not allowing you to transfer money overseas for free - they have better foreign exchange rates. My personal favourite is DBS/ POSB.
  • Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) - Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is the Government body that regulates the financial industry in Singapore.
  • Depositors insurance set up by the Government via Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation (SDIC) - Depositors insurance set up by the Government via Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation (SDIC) covers depositors for up to $50,000 SGD. This is to maintain public trust in the financial industry. The exact coverage is: 
  • In the event a Deposit Insurance Scheme member bank or finance company fails, all of your eligible accounts with that member are aggregated and insured up to S$50,000. Trust and client accounts held by non-bank depositors are insured up to $50,000 per account.
  • Moneys held in bank deposits under the CPF Investment Scheme and CPF Minimum Sum Scheme are aggregated and separately insured up to S$50,000. (Source: SDIC https://www.sdic.org.sg/)

List of key banks - Here are a list of banks in Singapore that you can choose from.
Singaporean banks

  • POSB / DBS (Two merged banks, and the most widespread as POSB was Singapore’s homegrown bank)
  • OCBC
  • UOB

International banks

  • ANZ* (Australian bank)
  • Citibank* (Global bank)
  • HSBC* (Global bank)
  • Maybank* (Malaysian bank)
  • State Bank of India* (Indian bank)
  • Standard Chartered Bank*
  • Bank of China (Chinese bank)
  • RHB (Malaysian bank)
  • CIMB (Malaysian bank)
  • Others - there are other smaller banks around as well. But with limits on the banking licenses available in the country, these are the main ones for individual banking. 

*These banks are part of the atm5 network, so there is free bank withdrawals with any of these bank's atms in this network. The applicable atms are marked "atm5".

Here are some great websites out there that will show you how you can compare the various bank accounts:

Happy banking!
-Vu ;)

Related posts:

Public transport -  How to set up your Ezlink enabled credit card in Singapore

The basics
Finances - Banking in Singapore - What to know when selecting a bank account
Finances - Share trading in Singapore - How to get started

Basic toiletries - Where you can buy cheap toiletries in Singapore

Places to see/ Events in Singapore
National events - Chinese New Year in Singapore
National events - National Day - August 9
Leisure - Pulau Ubin Island - Getting to and around Singapore's nature island (great for biking riding)
Leisure - Sungei Buloh wetlands reserve - Getting to and around Sungei Buloh (a global stop-over point for migratory birds)

Places to see (outside but near Singapore)
Travel - Genting Highlands, Malaysia

Vu Long Tran

Written by Vu Long Tran

Solutions Engineer APAC. ex-@Forrester consultant. Writing on #cloud #howto guides and #tech tinkering!