It’s no surprise that Singapore is brimming with global financial institutions. And while you’re looking into moving into this small city, the opportunities are endless. But before you do so, you’ll want to get your finances sorted out to ensure a smooth transition. Below, we’ll give you a breakdown on some of the best banks for foreigners in Singapore.
How to open a bank account in Singapore
Opening a bank account is fairly straightforward, especially if you’re over 18 and have already secured employment in Singapore. For most banks, you’ll need to head down to banks in person to open an account.
Here are some essential documents to have ready before opening a bank account in Singapore:
- Proof of identity (a valid passport or identification card)
- Proof of address (e.g. in the form of utility bills)
- Visa (employment visa, S-Pass or student visua)
Do note that depending on the bank you wish to open an account with, a reference letter from your employee, rental agreement documents and/or references from your home bank may be required. Nevertheless, it is good practice to check ahead with the bank to ensure you have prepared all necessary documents.
Best banks for foreigners in Singapore
1. The Development Bank of Singapore (DBS) and POSB
The Development Bank of Singapore, a.k.a. DBS, was first established in 1968. It is now one of the largest and longest-running multinational banking and financial service in Singapore together with POSB (formerly known as the Post Office Savings Bank), after the latter was acquired in 1998. Locally, it has more than 100 branches in Singapore alone with the highest number of ATMs around the island – its ubiquitous presence means you can practically access DBS or POSB’s almost anywhere in Singapore.
Overseas, DBS is present across 17 markets with over 250 branches worldwide across 50 cities, making it the largest multinational banking service in Southeast Asia.
For foreigners wishing to open an account with DBS or POSB, the bank has prepared an entire checklist on important must-knows.
The DBS Multiplier account is a popular choice among expats. It offers 24/7 multi-currency convenience (of up to 12 different currencies). You can also earn up to 3 percent interest per annum with no minimum salary and credit card spend. On the other hand, the DBS Remit offers same-day transactions at low fees. You can even enjoy zero-dollar remittance fees for same-day transfers to Thailand, Australia, China, Canada, Eurozone counties, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Japan. What’s even better, all DBS and POSB account holders are entitled to use iBanking and access DBS PayLah! and POSB PayNow to enjoy convenient cashless payments and perks across many merchants in Singapore.
2. United Overseas Bank (UOB)
Founded in 1935, the United Overseas Bank (UOB) is a Singaporean multinational investment bank and financial services company that’s the third largest in Southeast Asia. It has over 500 offices across 19 countries worldwide.
UOB requires all foreigners to be physically present in Singapore before they are allowed to open accounts. Peruse this list of important requirements you should know before opening an account with UOB.
The UOB One account is tailored for everyone’s everyday use. It not only offers flexibility and simplicity to manage your account, it also grants users up to 2.5 percent interest per annum. In order to gain maximum savings, users will have to spend a minimum of $500, credit a salary of minimally $1,600 into the account and make three GIRO transactions per month.
For frequent flyers, the KrisFlyer UOB Account allows you to earn maximum miles as you spend and save. Signing up will grant you 1,000 welcome miles and GrabFood vouchers. You also get $10 off Grab rides to and from Changi Airport, $10 off Changi WIFI and exclusive air privileges when you choose to fly with Scoot.
Dubbed suitable for “the serious saver”, the UOB Stash Account offers 1 percent interest per annum where you can earn up to $575 interest a year. Users can also earn up to 3 percent cashback on online shopping, groceries, transport and many more.
3. Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC)
Established in 1932, the Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) is the second-largest multinational banking and financial service in Southeast Asia, trailing closely after DBS. OCBC is present in 18 markets with over 570 branches worldwide.
The OCBC 360 Account allows users to earn up to 2.38 percent per year and even more when you save more than $75,000. To accumulate maximum savings, users will need to credit their salaries ($1,800 minimally) through GIRO into the account and save at least $500 each month.
Alternatively, the Global Savings Account allows users to make transactions in eight different currencies (Australia, Canada, Chinese, Europe, Great Britain, New Zealand, United States and Hong Kong). No foreign currency transaction fee is charged when an OCBC debit card is used and there is a zero-dollar fall below fee. However, a $5,000 initial deposit is required.
Too complicated? Opt for a simple savings account. The Statement Savings Account is a no-frills alternative that offers an interest rate of 0.05 percent per annum. An initial deposit of $1,000 is needed and a $2 fall below fee will be charged if your account balance falls below $1,000.
4. Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC)
Founded in 1865, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) is a British multinational investment bank and financial service provider. It is currently the largest bank in Europe with over 3,900 offices across 64 countries, serving around 40 million customers.
HSBC is known for its expat banking programme, guiding its users from moving, settling and assimilating into a new country. (Did we mention, perks are offered as well?) As an international bank, you can set up your account prior to your arrival in Singapore.
The HSBC Premier Service is a well-rounded service that helps its users access exclusive privileges – from supporting an individual’s family or growing one’s wealth. According to HSBC, “Premier is here to let you live without limits.” The service also offers easy access to international baking across 29 markets and overseas education support for your child (if needed).
To access HSBC’s Premier service, simply:
- Open a multicurrency Every Global Account that allows users to engage in transactions in up to 11 countries worldwide. The account unlocks rewards with 1 percent cashback and up to $300 bonus cash rewards. Sign up for the Everyday+ programme and you are eligible for up to 1 percent bonus interest per annum on your incremental balance.
- Credit a minimum of $200,000 (or its equivalent in foreign currency), OR
- Credit a monthly salary of at least $15,000, OR
- Take up an HSBC home loan of at least $800,000 (in SGD) or $200,000 (AUD)
Alternatively, you may opt for a simple saving route with HSBC Singapore Dollar Savings Account. This account requires an initial deposit of $1,000.
5. Standard Chartered
Standard Chartered is another British-born multinational banking and financial service with over 1,200 branches across 70 countries worldwide. In Singapore, the bank was first opened in 1859 and it continues to be one of the oldest banks still in operation.
Similar to HSBC, Standard Chartered also offers its own expat programme to help users with their relocation journey.
The Bonus$aver Account offers 1 percent sign-up bonus interest for new deposit clients. In addition, users can also enjoy up to 2.38 percent interest per annum when they save, invest and transact. This account also allows multicurrency feature that allows multicurrency transactions with zero additional charges.
For individuals above 55 years old and looking to relocate for retirement, the MyWay Programme is ideal to access a world of exclusive dining, travel and healthcare privileges. The interest rate stands at 0.30 percent per annum with no initial deposit required. However, a $10 fall below fee is charged if the monthly balance falls below $50,000.
For the career individual wanting to maximise their salaries, the SuperSalary Account allows users to earn up to 0.20 percent on their payroll when it is credited into this account. You can also enjoy up to 1 percent cashback when you use its debit card. No initial deposit is required and there is zero fall below fee, too.
Founded in 1812, Citibank is part of Citigroup, an American multinational investment bank and financial service company originating from New York. The bank has 2,649 branches in 19 countries worldwide. In Singapore, it is headquartered in Asia Square and has over 1,500 touchpoints and 280 ATMs worldwide. It currently has five main branches in Singapore.
The Citibank Step-Up Account allows all users to maximise their salaries by offering a base interest rate of 0.01 percent per annum. This can increase of up to 0.13 percent per annum over a 12-month period as your balance increases in consecutive months.
Alternatively, the Citibank MaxiSave Account is an interest-bearing checking account offering 0.01 percent interest per annum. Interests are credited every month.
For multicurrency transactions, the Global Foreign Currency Account allows you to access any Citi ATMs worldwide with no additional processing fee. You can also pay using your Citibank Debit Card anywhere in the world, at no additional currency conversion fee.
All in all, you won’t have to worry too much about ensuring safe and secure financial transactions in Singapore. As a multinational financial hub, opening a bank account in Singapore as a foreigner is relatively easy and hassle-free. All you’ll need to do, is to figure out which ones work best for you.