Savings Account for Foreigners in Singapore

Singapore being a financial hub in South-east Asia attracts people from all over the world. Many such foreigners choose to settle down in Singapore owing to its vibrancy, multicultural and cosmopolitan nature.

These foreigners would definitely have banking needs to save and grow their money as long as they are living and earning in Singapore. As a result of the large foreign population, many banks in Singapore offer savings bank accounts to foreigners. For example, the POSB Payroll Account is meant exclusively for workers with a work permit. Opening a savings account in Singapore is not very difficult and you can open an account with banks like Standard Chartered, HSBC and Citi if you already have an account with any of these banks in your native country.

Is There an Option of Opening a Savings Account as a Non-Resident?

Most banks will often require your Study or Employment Pass and your passport to consider your application. Since you can only get an employment pass if you are employed with a recognised organisation, you will not get a savings account unless you have a job or if you are a student in a recognised institute in Singapore.

Similarly, you will have to furnish other documents to get a student pass. However, these necessary documents make it harder for people who are not planning to settle down in Singapore to open a bank account. You will also find it very difficult to open a savings account if you are planning to move to Singapore with your spouse and do not wish to study or work.

Savings Account Exclusively for Foreigners

POSB Payroll Account

The Payroll Account offered by POSB is an account designed especially for foreigners with a work permit. Workers who are having a POSB Payroll Account will have their salary credited to this account.

Features and Benefits of POSB Payroll Account

The POSB Payroll Account has the following features and benefits:

  • Use POSB ATMs to get a printout of the last five transactions and check the balance in your account.
  • Use POSB ATMs to top up telecom prepaid cards.
  • Withdraw cash through ATMs or POSB Cash-Point.
  • Pay for all your purchases using NETS.

It is very easy now to apply for a POSB Payroll Account as the bank has collaborated with the Ministry of Manpower, Government of Singapore. Employers who have hired foreign workers can now add the application of opening a POSB Payroll Account together with the issuance of a work permit on your worker’s behalf.

Fees and Charges

You will be charged the following fees and charges with this account:

  • S$5 and S$15 to get your ATM Card and passbook replaced, respectively.
  • If you close your account within six months of opening it, you will be charged an early account closure fee of S$20.
  • Every time you withdraw S$2,000 or less from any DBS/POSB branch, you will be charged S$2.
  • If you withdraw cash from ATM more than four times a month, you will be charged a withdrawal fee of S$2.
  • A fall-below fee of S$2 will be applied if the average daily balance in your account is less than S$500 for the month.

How to Apply for a POSB Payroll Account

You will have to take the following two steps to open a POSB Payroll Account:

  1. Once you have acquired your new worker’s work permit consent to open the account, select the option of opening a POSB account at the time of requesting for work permit issuance through the online portal.
  2. Once you visit the MOM Services Centre for the registration of the card, you will have to visit the POSB Account Services Centre with your In-principal Approval Letter and original passport.

If the application is processed successfully, the bank will issue you an account number and an ATM card.

Other Things That You Can Do With Your POSB Payroll Account

  • Overseas Money Transfer
  • Send money to your loved ones overseas with the POSB Jolly mobile app. Your family members can receive the money directly into their account or they can collect it from any authorised MoneyGram counters. The table below shows the benefits of the two types of money transfer:

      Bank Transfer (SMS Remit) Cash Pick Up (MoneyGram)                                                                    
    Type of Receipt Credited into the bank account Collection of cash at certified MoneyGram counters
    Countries where this service is available India, Indonesia and Philippines Bangladesh, Indonesia, India and Philippines
    Fee payable S$0 for a limited period of time
    Minimum transfer amount S$10
    Transfer time Next working day of the receiving country Instant
    Adding payee Add the recipient on AXS Add the recipient on POSB Jolly app
  • Cash Pick Up Money Transfer Service
  • With the Cash Pick Up Money Transfer Service, you will be able to transfer money from your POSB Payroll Account to your family members at the following authorised MoneyGram counters:

    Philippines Indonesia India Bangladesh
    BDO Unibank CIMB Niaga Weizmann Forex Agrani Bank
    M Lhuillier BankMega UAE Exchange BRAC Bank
    Cebuana Lhuillier BCA Muthoot Fincorp Sonali Bank
      POS Indonesia Muthoot Finance Islami Bank
  • Bank Transfer (SMS Remit) Money Transfer Service
  • With this service you can transfer money from the POSB Payroll Account to your family members’ account back in countries such as India, Indonesia and Philippines.

  • With the POSB Jolly mobile application, you can do the following things :
    • Track transfer, send money and add payee from the comfort of your home.
    • Top up prepaid cards, if you are running low on stored value.
    • View the balance in your account and transaction history with a single tap.

Other Savings Accounts Applicable to Foreigners in Singapore

Find below the savings account that foreigners in Singapore can apply for:

DBS Expat Programme

As part of the DBS Expat Programme, you can apply for the DBS Multiplier Account. With this account, you will be able to enjoy the convenience of handling multiple currencies in a single account. Once you link this account with your DBS Visa Debit Card, you will be able to transact like a local. You can also enjoy an interest rate of up to 3.5% p.a. on your savings without having any minimum salary or using your credit card.

Also, you will not be charged any extra fee when you make a funds transfer overseas. For same-day transfers to Australia, Eurozone countries, China, India, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, UK and USA, you will not have to pay any remittance fee.

OCBC 360 Account

You will be eligible for an OCBC 360 Account if you have a valid Employment Pass or S-Pass in addition to other necessary documents such as your passport, a local phone bill or bank statement or half-yearly CPF statement. However, you will have to make an initial deposit of S$1,000 when you open this account.

UOB One Account

With the UOB One Account, you will get an interest rate of up to 3.33%. Other features of this account include attractive foreign exchange rates across eleven different currencies and five years of stored electronic statements. Like other savings account, you will need a valid Employment Pass or S-Pass in addition to other necessary documents to open this account.

What Are the Fees and Charges Associated With Savings Account for Foreigners?

With most savings account in Singapore, there are certain fees and charges associated which are as follows:

  • Early Closure Fee
  • If you choose to close your account within six months, often the bank will charged an early closure fee.

  • International Transfer Fee
  • Often when you make an international money transfer using funds from your savings account, you can expect to be charged with a handling fee and a transaction fee. This fee will however vary from bank to bank.

  • ATM Fee
  • Most banks will charge a fee when you use your registered ATM card to withdraw money from another bank’s ATM. A bank will charge a fee even if you withdraw money multiple times in a month from the bank’s own ATMs.

  • Fall Below Fee
  • There are banks in Singapore that require you to maintain a minimum amount in your account failing which you will be charged a fall below fee.

What Are the Documents Required to Open a Savings Account for Foreigners

Unlike Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents, you will require additional documents if you are a foreigner to open a savings account in Singapore. Even if you opt to open an account online there are certain documents that you will have to mandatorily submit. Here is a list of those documents:

  • Passport.
  • Employment Pass or Student Pass.
  • Proof of address (phone bill, rental agreement, bank statement, a formal letter from employer).       

In addition, you will have to submit these documents as well based on the requirements of the bank where you are applying for an account:

  • Recommendation from your home bank.
  • Introduction from one of the bank’s current customers.
  • Your home tax or national insurance number.

As a foreigner, before you decide to open a savings account, you must consider the following:

  • The type of account.
  • Fees and charges involved.
  • Option of having your salary credited to this account.
  • Features and benefits offered with the account.
  • Minimum balance required without being penalised.

As a foreign national working in Singapore, it is very important to plan your finances and save money every month for your future needs and the savings accounts mentioned above let you do that.

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