Basics of banking in Singapore



Banking hours are usually from 9.30 am to 3 pm from Monday to Friday, and 9.30 am to 11.30 am on Saturday. Some banks have branches which operate beyond the mentioned banking hours while a few are also open on Sundays. These branches are usually located downtown. The currency in Singapore is the Singaporean dollars. The most commonly used notes are $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. Coins come in the 5¢, 10¢, 20¢, 50¢, and $1 denominations.

Opening a Bank Account

Singapore has several banks offering a variety of services. Determine your needs first and then shop around for a suitable bank. Although Singapore has more than 100 international banks, only six of these have been awarded the Qualified Full Bank Status (QFB). The QFB banks include:

While international banks are popular options for expats, most expats also choose to open with a local bank for easy access to bank branches and ATM facilities. The local banks in Singapore are:

Paperwork requirements depend on which type of account you want to open. Your passport and proof of mailing address are two documents that are commonly required to open all kinds of accounts. For local banks, a minimum balance of S$500 is required to be maintained at all times to be exempted from administrative fees imposed by the bank. For international banks, the amount is placed at S$2000.

It is possible to open an account without being present in person. The time taken to open an account ranges from one day to one week and depends on many factors like whether you are present in the country or not.

Credit Cards, Payments & Money Transfers

While living in Singapore, you may use cash (the Singapore dollar), travellers' cheques and debit/credit cards. Most banks offer debit cards which can be used to withdraw cash from ATM's. International debit cards can be used to withdraw cash from shared ATM's at no cost, but you will have to pay a fee to withdraw money from another bank ATM. Credit cards are widely accepted, and there is no need to carry a lot of cash.  

If you are using a foreign bank account, transferring money into a new account will not be a problem. However, if you are using a Singapore bank account then transferring money into a new account could attract some transferring and conversion fees.  

Corporate Accounts & Offshore Banking in Singapore

Singapore has one of the fastest growing offshore banking economies in the world. Several international banks and Singaporean banks have various options to corporations for opening bank accounts. Multi-currency accounts and freedom to move funds from Singapore to your home country are certain features of these accounts.