Money makes the world go round and what better place to keep our hard earned money than the bank. But when it comes to opting for a bank account, there are certain things we must keep in mind. This is especially true if you’re an expat. The number of local and international banks that are present in Singapore, the paperwork and fees can confuse you.
Things to consider when opening a bank account in Singapore:
- Know what type of account you’re looking for
- Minimum balances
- Ease of banking
- What are you earning?
- ATM Network
- Business hours
- Keep your documents in order
- Additional features of the account
1. Know what type of account you’re looking for
Before you open an account, know why you’re doing it. Is it to fund personal expenses, is to set aside money for a particular purpose or is it just to save money for a rainy day. Knowing why you’re looking for an account is half the battle. Ideally you should keep different accounts for different purposes.
Long term savings that you contribute to periodically and one which you don’t normally dip into should be kept in a high interest savings account. These accounts give you better interest rates when you when you complete certain criteria such as having your salary deposited into the account, meeting certain spend criteria or purchasing specific financial products. The OCBC 360 account, for example, offers higher rates of interest of up to 3% a year for the first S$70,000.
Accounts such as the OCBC 360 account and the CIMB FastSaver account are great options for savings accounts.
Related: The Must-Have Bank Account: OCBC 360
2. Minimum balances
Look for accounts that don’t require you to maintain a minimum balance or have a low minimum balance amount. This is something to watch out for if you’re choosing an account for everyday spend. Chances of you depleting the funds set aside in this account is quite high and having a bank account that charges you a fee for not maintain a certain amount negates the benefit of the account in the first place.
3. Ease of banking
An essential consideration would be the bank’s iBanking services and mobile apps. Opting for iBanking services can greatly benefit you as the account holder as it offers a simple and convenient mode to manage your account, transfer funds and pay off bills.
While almost every bank provides internet banking facilities, some banks offer more than the standard features. Take for example OCBC; transferring money using their app is incredibly easy. Their PayAnyone function only requires you to know your payee’s mobile number, and you can send them money, together with a pin number of your liking. No more fumbling for change to pay your friends after dinner.
Banking apps these days also allow you to quickly access your most recent account details without having to login completely. On an iPhone, users can use TouchID to immediately access their bank balance and most recent transactions.
4. What are you earning?
If your aim is to earn while you store your money then interest rates are a major factor for you. Look for an account that offers the best interest rates. For example with the OCBC 360 account, the base interest rate offered is 0.05%, but depositing your salary through GIRO gives you an additional 1.2% p.a. Paying your utility bills online using the OCBC account as well as charging a minimum of S$500 per month to your OCBC credit card gives you an additional interest rate of 0.3% per year each.
However, interest rates would depend on the currency you maintain the account in too. They could also depend on how much and how often you put money in the account. This would be more relevant to you if you are an expat working in Singapore.
5. ATM Network
Making regular withdrawals to meet your various expenses, be it fuel or groceries should be done so from a separate account for personal spending. Since you’re going to make regular withdrawals, opting for a bank that has a wide network of ATMs is crucial. You can’t always go searching for an ATM anytime you’re in need of some cash.
When it comes to ATM networks local banks make more sense. Banks such as DBS, OCBC and UOB are prime examples of banks that offer a good ATM network. You’re bound to find one anytime you’re in need of some extra dough.
6. Business hours
When opening a bank account, one must go in for a bank whose working hours fall in line with their needs. Most banks nowadays stay open till 7pm and some banks stay open on the weekends too. Banks such as OCBC stay open till 7pm and even operate on weekends. Banks such as UOB operate till 6pm and are open on Sundays too but mostly handle credit card and loan applications.
7. Keep your documents in order
Opening an account requires you to have the right paperwork in place regardless of whether you’re a local or a foreigner. While the requirements may be easier to attain for locals, Foreigners will have to provide necessary documents such as a passport with the right type of work permit. Documents will also differ based on nature of employment.
8. Additional features of the account
Once you have the paperwork in place and have a broad idea as to what you’re going to use the account for, you should also view the fine print of these accounts. You should check the fee structure of products you might use often such as debit cards and credit cards.
Credit cards and cheque books are integral components of any bank but do sometimes come with certain fees and charges. Check the charges levied for issuing new cheque books, replacing lost cards, overseas transaction fees and other fees related to your banking requirements.
Opening a bank account is a fairly straightforward and hassle free process. Once you’re happy with the bank, if all the charges seem reasonable and your paperwork is in order, banking in Singapore is not very difficult at all.
Keep reading the BankBazaar blog for more ways to be a personal finance expert, together with tips to master your money and get better at life.
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