facebookBank Account in Singapore for Expats: Convenience First or Interest First?


Bank Account in Singapore for Expats: Convenience First or Interest First?

profileCherie Tan

“There are so many things that I gotta do to settle down in Singapore!”

With Singapore being a global financial hub, we do have a lot of banks for you to patronise. However, (unleashing the Singaporean-auntie voice in me) don’t anyhow open open bank accounts, later no ATMs available for you to take money how?

With that, I present you this guide on bank accounts in Singapore for Expats, should you place convenience first or interests first?

For you, by Singaporeans. Or in this case, Singaporean (ahem, me).

Concerns/Priorities when it comes to Your Bank Account

Here are some factors that you should consider before opening your bank account here in Singapore.

  1. Availability of ATMs to withdraw money
  2. High-interest yielding savings account

1. Availability of ATMs and Branches

  • POSB/DBS Bank
  • OCBC/UOB Bank

The reason why I omitted foreign banks in this list because foreign banks are restricted in terms of the number of branches and ATM machines despite having full bank licenses which allow them to also offer most services similar to our local banks.

1st Choice: POSB or DBS Bank

DBS and POSB have the highest number of automated teller machines (ATMs) and branches islandwide, allowing you to use them interchangeably. Because they are technically the same bank.

Application Process (For POSB/DBS Bank, this is a huge plus point!)

Most banks in Singapore requires you to have your physical pass (e.g. E-Pass, S-Pass, Work Permit) before applying to open a bank account. But POSB and/or DBS allows you to apply with your in-principle approval (IPA) letter.

So if you urgently require a bank account opened (for whatever reason), you know where to go!

2nd Choice: UOB or OCBC Bank

UOB or OCBC Bank now allows for cross-bank cash withdrawals, fund transfers and balance inquiry, which makes the total number of ATMs as competitive as POSB/ DBS Bank. 

If you are not in a hurry to open a bank account, this would be a better choice. 

Reason being,

  • The queues to the ATM are shorter
  • Lower withdrawal limit of $10 instead of $20 (POSB/DBS)

Singapore being a smart nation where technology is embraced by us and the majority of merchants here accept e-payment methods, even some hawker centres! It is really simple to go cashless!

2. Bank Account to Put Your Savings

When it comes to bank accounts, to optimise the availability of it, you have to check what your intentions are,

  • A bank account to park your savings
  • A bank account that gives you the highest interest on your savings

2.1. Bank Account To Park Your Savings

Easy, CIMB FastSaver. With no conditions to fulfil, you earn 1% p.a. on your deposit.

Account BalanceInterest Rate
(% p.a.)
First S$50,0001.00%
Above S$50,0000.60%

That is the only setback of CIMB FastSaver. If you have a bank balance of over S$50,000. The interest you will be able to earn would only be 0.8% instead.

2.2. Bank Account That Gives You The Highest Interest

Some savings account with the bank is able to offer you higher interest for your savings as compared to a regular savings account provided if you fulfil some conditions.

Sounds complicated? Don’t worry, we have a savings account calculator that does the hard work for you.

It calculates for you which bank offers you the best interest rate based on your current financial situation.

For example,

  • Your average monthly salary, expenses, and credit card bills;
  • Are you intending to take up a home loan?
  • How much do you intend to invest every month? Or in one lump sum?

Just to name a few. So base on your situation, we will find the savings account that is most suited for you!

Don’t worry if you are unsure on your finances here in Singapore, we have compiled a list of the best savings account.

Read Bank Account Reviews Here

Can You Have Best of Both Worlds?

You might ask, can you have the best of both worlds where you will be able to earn high interest as well as have the convenience of banking?

Sure. If according to the savings calculator, the best saving account for you is either UOB, OCBC, POSB or DBS Bank.

Not really. If your options were Bank of China, Standard Chartered or CIMB.

How Many Bank Accounts Can You Have?

As many as you would like, but do take note of the fall below fee – a fee that the bank charges for falling below their minimum balance.

FINAL STEP, Opening The Bank Account

Things You Need to Bring to the Bank

  1. Your Passport
  2. Employment pass issued or IPA letter (for DBS/POSB Bank)
  3. Proof of Residential/ Mailing address
    E.g. Letter of offer, letter of employment, latest payslip, local utility bill etc.

Congratulations! You are now one step closer to settling down in Singapore! Remember to also check if you are adequately insured with either your personal insurance or company’s insurance.

Coming to a foreign land away from home, having to face adulthood on your own can be pretty daunting. Especially if you have relocated here on your own. We have a close knitted community here at Seedly where you can share your financial woes and learn from each other with tips and hacks to get by in Singapore.

With that, Seedly extends their arms to welcome you to Singapore. We hope you will enjoy your stay here!

All GIF Credits: Giphy


About Cherie Tan
Turning finance into boba-sized pieces. One iced milk boba tea, please!
You can contribute your thoughts like Cherie Tan here.

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