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How to open bank account in Singapore as a foreigner
A step-by-step guide to opening a bank account in Singapore for foreigners.
Opening a bank account in a new country is never easy. The sign-up process might feel unfamiliar, the terms could seem foreign and the eligibility requirements could just get confusing.
However, as a foreigner in Singapore, you could benefit greatly from taking the time and effort to open a local bank account.
Do you need a Singaporean bank account?
Whether you’re here in Singapore for study or work, you’ll need a local bank account for day-to-day transactions – be it to receive your salary or make rent payments. Having a local bank account also allows you to withdraw cash from ATMs, as well as being able to send and receive money in Singapore.
If you’re looking to invest or trade, you’ll also need a local bank account to make settlements and fund your trades.
Benefits of savings accounts in Singapore
- Easy access to your money. Access your funds whenever you want. You can withdraw cash from your bank account at an ATM, use a debit card to purchase things in stores, pay your bills or shop online 24/7.
- Free debit card.Savings accounts in Singapore usually come with a free Visa or Mastercard debit card that’s linked to your account. You can use this debit card in local or overseas retail stores, ATMs and online. Unlike a credit card, the money on your debit card is limited to what you deposit into the account.
- Access local payment services. PayNow, DBS PayLah! and OCBC Pay Anyone are some of the most popular digital payment services in Singapore. These handy mobile apps allow you to make peer-to-peer transfers or pay for goods and services instantly by entering a registered mobile number, scanning a QR code or input a company’s Unique Entity Number (UEN).
- Earn interest on your balance. Accrue monthly interest ranging from 0.05% on your account balance. Some bonus interest savings accounts also allow you to unlock higher interest tiers when you meet certain monthly conditions.
- Transaction history. View your past bank account transactions by logging into your Internet banking portal or mobile banking app. This is a handy way to keep track of where and how you’re spending your money.
- Online and mobile banking. Most banks in Singapore offers an Internet banking platform, as well as a mobile banking app. This means you can access banking services and manage your finances anytime and anywhere.
How to be eligible for a bank account in Singapore
Non-residents can hold bank accounts in Singapore as long as they meet certain requirements and provide the necessary documents.
While the account opening process, criteria and documents required may vary from bank to bank, you can typically expect to be asked for the following:
- ID documents. You’ll need to prove your ID with a national ID card or your passport.
- Proof of employment or study. You need to supply an Employment Pass, S Pass, Student Pass or Dependant Pass depending on your situation. In principle approval letter known as the IPA or ACRA documents proving your business directorship is also be accepted.
- Reference. Some Singaporean banks require a reference or introduction letter.
- Proof of residence. The bank will require documents to show your place of residence, such as phone or utility bills.
- Be over the age of 18. You will need to be over 18 to open a bank account in Singapore, but you may be able to open a savings account if you’re over 15 years old.
Saving account alternatives
If you have just arrived in Singapore and don’t have any proof of residential address yet, applying for a savings account with a local bank might not be possible.
However, you can still sort out your everyday banking needs and even get a free debit card with one of the many digital payment service providers in Singapore.
4 steps to open a bank account as a foreigner
Setting up a bank account in Singapore is quick and simple:
1. Choose an account type
There are a few different types of bank accounts available in Singapore, so you first need to decide what type of account you want:
- Savings accounts. In Singapore, savings accounts are essentially the same as current accounts and checking accounts. You can use it to receive money, make payments and more, all the while earning interest on your balance.
- Current accounts. These are standard transactional bank accounts that allow you to receive your salary or wage, transfer money, pay bills and issue cheques. You’ll also receive a debit card that comes with extra benefits such as cashback. You can find current accounts available to foreigners at most major banks in Singapore.
- Digital bank account. Digital banks, also called neobanks and challenger banks, are also an option. They are opened and managed completely online, and offers a host of useful features such as no-fee foreign currency transfers and low or no ATM fees. Digital banks usually design accounts to be managed globally, making them a good option to consider for foreigners.
- Multicurrency accounts. Multicurrency accounts are great options for those who need access to foreign currency. With a multi-currency account, you can store multiple currencies and benefit from cheap foreign currency transfers.
2. Compare your options
Now you know what type of account you want, it’s time to compare your options. Here are some of the features to consider:
- Ongoing fees. Some banks in Singapore charge you monthly to hold the account. You may also be required to pay a fee for your debit card.
- Minimum deposits. To open a bank account, you will generally need to make a deposit to confirm the account. Banks can also charge you fall-below fees if you don’t keep your account above a certain amount.
- Debit cards. Singapore offers a number of great features with its debit cards, including cashback and discounts. Take a look at the benefits your linked debit card will offer and if any fees will be charged.
- Rewards. Some current accounts are linked to programs that let you earn points and rewards for your everyday spending.
- Mobile payments. If you like tapping and paying with your phone, make sure your account is compatible with your chosen mobile payment option.
- ATM withdrawal. While each bank will have a varied availability of ATMs in different malls, train stations and bank branches, almost all physical banks in Singapore will have an ATM located near you.
- Banking statements. All bank accounts in Singapore should now allow you to get an electronic statement through your internet banking portal. An electronic statement (or e-statement) is a digital summary of all your holdings, transactions, fees and liabilities at one glance. If you prefer your statement in hard copy, you can get yours at a small fee.
3. Consider the fees
Singapore bank accounts come with a few fees you need to watch out for, including:
- Fall-below fees. Many banks require that you keep your account above a certain limit or you will be charged fall-below fees.
- Monthly fees. You may be charged a monthly fee to hold your account.
- Card fees. Debit cards offer a number of perks, but may also come with an annual fee. Make sure the benefits outweigh the cost.
- Currency conversion fees. You may be charged a fee to convert your Singaporean dollars to foreign currency. If you’re looking to do this often you may want to consider a multi-currency account or a digital bank account.
- Account closure fees. Some banks will charge you a fee if you close your account within a certain period after opening it.
4. Sign up for an account
You can apply for a current account in-person or online, depending on the bank. You will need the documents outlined above, including proof of ID and residency, and also be prepared to make an initial deposit (if applicable) into your account.
Popular local bank accounts in Singapore
Here are some popular local bank accounts you can consider, broken down by bank:
Compare a range of bank accounts 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.
Frequently asked questions
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