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Best* savings accounts for expats and residents on a temporary visa
Finding savings accounts for expats in Singapore is easy when you compare your options.
Getting used to a foreign country’s banking system can be daunting. Fortunately, banking in Singapore is straightforward, especially when it concerns savings accounts.
Every prominent bank in Singapore provides savings accounts that you can open as an expat. Some financial institutions let you open these accounts online, even before you arrive. Learn more in this guide.
Compare savings accounts for expats in Singapore
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
What is an expat or non-resident?
An expatriate, or expat, is an individual who lives in a country other than that of his or her citizenship, temporarily or permanently, as an immigrant. The word comes from the Latin term ex patria, which literally translates to ‘out of country/fatherland’. In modern-day parlance, the use of the term expat is common when referring to skilled employees or professionals deputed overseas by businesses.
Expats tend to reside in their host countries temporarily. However, an increasing number of expats now choose to continue living in their host countries because of reasons such as higher standards of living, career opportunities and marital relationships.
As long as expats don’t become permanent residents of Singapore or get Singapore citizenship, they remain, for legal purposes, non-residents.
Do you need a local savings account in Singapore?
Transfers from your overseas bank account to a local bank account will all subject to expensive conversion fees and uncompetitive exchange rates. If you’re relocating to Singapore for work, chances are you’ll be making lots of local transfers such as paying for your rent, food, transport fees and even to your friends here.
With a bank account in Singapore, you’ll be able to:
- Save on currency conversion fees
- Send and receive local payments without additional fees
- Withdraw cash without incurring ATM fees
- Set up recurring payments to local companies (e.g. telco, utilities, rent, gym memberships etc)
- Access banking facilities or account-related support with ease (e.g. if you lose your debit/credit card and need a quick replacement)
- Build a local credit history
What are the types of savings accounts available for expats and non-residents?
As an expat or a non-resident you can open different types of savings accounts:
- Bonus saver accounts. A bonus saver account is a savings account that rewards you with extra interest when you meet the account conditions. These are also known as incentive saver accounts, as they incentivise you to save, or bonus interest accounts.
- Savings accounts. With a typical online savings account your money stands to earn interest. You may not get access to a debit card. However, you should get access to funds in your account using online and phone banking.
- Digital banks. App-based banks such as YouTrip, N26 and BigPay tend to offer an online current account, but some also allow you to save money in an attached account.
- Current accounts. In Singapore, current accounts can also be used as savings accounts. You can benefit from day-to-day banking features with a current account as well as a low base interest.
How do I compare expat savings accounts?
When you’re comparing expat savings accounts, pay due attention to these aspects:
- Sending money back home. If you plan to send money back home every now and again, look for an account that lets you make international electronic fund transfers easily. Find out how much you’ll have to pay as fees.
- International services. Find out if the bank you choose offers international services such as foreign currency accounts, foreign exchange services as well as foreign cheques and drafts.
- Foreign exchange services. While many Singaporean financial institutions provide foreign exchange services, not all are equally good. They vary in terms of the exchange rates they offer as well as turnaround times.
- Ability to open instantly. The time taken to open a savings account can vary from one financial institution to the next. Some that let you apply online before you arrive open your account on the day you submit your application.
- Online banking facilities. While most Singapore banks offer online banking facilities to their customers, what you can use these platforms for requires your attention. For example, in some cases, you can use online banking platforms to pay bills.
- Fees and charges. Find out if the account you wish to open attracts any fall-below fees. You may have to pay to get cheque book access. Other fees and charges can also apply.
How to apply for a savings account in Singapore
To begin your application for your selected bank account, simply head to the bank’s website and apply online. Alternatively, you can also head down to the nearest bank branch to open the account in person. Before applying, you should make sure that you meet the eligibility criteria and have the required documents on hand.
- At least 18 years old (may vary from bank to bank)
Most banks in Singapore would require the following documents when you’re applying for a bank account:
- Identification document
- Proof of employment or study of any of the items below
- Employment pass/In Principal Approval (IPA) issued by the Ministry of Manpower
- Matriculation card/student card
- Official acceptance letter from the school
- Proof of residential address (dated within last 3 months) of any of the items below:
- In Principal Approval (IPA) issued by the Ministry of Manpower
- Letter of offer
- Letter of employment
- Latest payslip
- Local utility/telco bill
- Local bank statement/credit card statement
- Letter issued by the government or public bodies regulated for AML practices in a FATF member country
Can you open a savings account before arriving in Singapore?
If you wish to apply for a savings account before you get to Singapore you can do so online. Some banks don’t require Singapore addresses for you to complete the application. Some let you apply for an account up to three months prior to your arrival. Once the bank opens your account you can transfer funds into it from anywhere in the world. You should get access to online banking, which lets you view your account balance at any time.
You’ll have to complete an identity verification process before you can access funds from your new savings account. You can do this by visiting a branch of the bank you choose, in your country, if it has one there. You can also through an approved certifier, a Singapore consular officer or a Singapore diplomatic officer. Alternatively, you can verify you identity after you reach Singapore.
Popular savings accounts in Singapore*
Here are some popular savings account options in Singapore:
*Information provided is accurate as of 1 May 2021.
Before you apply for an account take some time to go through its terms and conditions. This should give you a clear indication of all applicable fees and charges you may have to pay in different scenarios. Avoid applying for an account that you think charges unreasonably high fees. Look for other options instead.
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