Whether you arrived in Singapore to study or as an expat, you’ll need to open a bank account quickly. Here is a simple guide to help you.

What documents do you need to open a bank account in Singapore?

Some banks offer an online application process to open a bank account but you’ll generally have to visit a branch and take these two documents along with you:

  • Your passport and
  • Your employment/student pass

You might be asked to bring extra documents such as:

  • Proof of address (a recent utility bill, a phone bill, a rental agreement)
  • A recommendation from your bank,
  • An introduction from one of the bank’s existing customers.

Make sure you get in touch with the bank you chose beforehand. They can tell you which documents they will need to see evidence of in order to open your account.

Banks in Singapore

As the city-state is a financial hub, many international banks have operations there. If you have an account in one of the following ones in your home country, they might help you set up your Singaporean bank account: ANZ, BNP Paribas, Citibank, HSBC and Standard Chartered.

Singapore has three main banks: United Overseas Bank (UOB), Oversea Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) and Development Bank of Singapore (DBS).

Let’s compare them and see what they offer.

Development Bank of Singapore (DBS)

You’ve probably heard about this institution as it is the largest banking organisation in the country and of Southern Asia. In Singapore, it has a total of 4 million clients. They also have a package dedicated to expats: DBS Expatriate Programme. You can apply directly online. This offer includes a multi-currency account (SGD + 12 other currencies) and a free credit card. Note that for each $1 spent you’ll earn 3 miles.

DBS also has offers for students but you might want to check their websites as they change regularly. Generally, they come with visa debit card that gives cash back on purchases.

Oversea Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC)

With the Oversea Chinese Banking Corporation, you’ll have more options for a basic account. If you’re between the ages of 16 and 29, you can apply for a Frank account. There is no minimum deposit, nor is it required to maintain a minimum balance. You can earn between 0.2% to 0.4% interest on balances per year.

If you’re older than 29, you’ll have the choice between the 360 account and the Statement savings. Both of them require an initial deposit of $1,000. There is also a requirement to maintain a minimum daily balance of $1,000. The 360 account offers interest of up to 3.25% a year.

United Overseas Bank (UOB)

This institution’s student offering is called the Campus Account. It comes with a free credit card and up to 0.10% interest on balances each year.

One Account is UOB basic account. It offers up to 3.33% interest per annum and cashback on your transactions.

Transferring funds into your new Singapore account

Now that you’ve opened your Singapore bank account, you’ll probably need to transfer money into it. One tempting option could be to make a wire transfer between your home account and the new one. Yet, this is probably the most expensive option you could go for. Banks generally apply large fees in such circumstances. They also use poor exchange rates to make even more money on your transfer!

Money transfer operators are much cheaper, safe and very easy to use. You can use this tool to compare them before making your choice.

You are now all set to open a bank account in Singapore! We hope that this information was useful.


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