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Banking systems can vary greatly in different by country and we are not sure what you will compare the Singapore situation with but you will certainly need an account, we'll do our best to be clear.

There are a number of fully licensed local and foreign banks in Singapore, meaning they have offices, ATM's, can offer loans etc., for a list refer below. A few of these banks have co-operation agreements with each other but most operate as stand-alone.

There is a high likelihood that you'll be paid for our labours by cheque though an increasing number of companies pay by 'giro'. This means that, unless you prefer cash, you will need to open an account soon to be able to get your funds deposited. So how do you do this and perform some other common transactions.

Account opening

To open an account you will need to have an Employment Pass or be a PR, an employment contract (sometimes, stating salary, and if so in English) and a mailing address, till that time you'll have to wait. Some banks target expatriates with specific accounts but the basics remain the same.

To open the account you will need to deposit anything between S$500,-- and S$5000,-- depending on the bank and type of account. Most accounts give negligible interest on your deposit and you will have to either pay a standard service fee per month or if your balance is below a certain limit, this fee is usually less than S$10. If you want cheques the first booklet is generally free, you'll pay for new ones. Most accounts come with an ATM/NETS card with which you can withdraw money and make payments in shops.

Opening the 'wrong' account type can be a bit bothersome so look around, you can always change later also off course.

Bill payment

Bill payments van be made in several ways; through cheques, through the Internet, over the bank counter, through Giro. Unfortunately not all methods are available at all banks and for all services. These depend on the agreements between the bank in question and the billing company. Cheques are always possible provided you have opened a checking account. Another option to make payments by using e.g. your credit card are the AXS stations, which also offer other functions.

If you need to pay by something by cheque and do not have them yet you can get a 'cashier's order' at a bank in exchange for your cash.

Money transfers within Singapore

Direct transfer of money to a third party account is generally only possible between accounts at the same or an affiliated bank. These transfers can be made at the bank, through the internet or at ATM's.

Money transfer out of Singapore

Money can generally only be transferred-out of Singapore via Telegraphic Transfer from one of the bank branches and has to be arranged in person; charges apply.


Very difficult if you are not a Permanent Resident (unless you consider credit card debt a 'loan' that is).

Credit Cards

Almost impossible to avoid! Relatively easy to get at your own bank but you'll need your employment contract etc. to show you'll be around for a while.

A list of fully licensed banks for private accounts in alphabetical order:

  • Citibank
  • DBS / Posbank
  • HSBC
  • Standard Chartered
  • Maybank
  • OCBC bank
  • UOB
The full list of all banks operating in Singapore is several yellow pages long so if you are looking for another bank or specific business bank we refer you there.

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