Singapore Bank Account

Ozbargainer in SG here!

So I've been living in SG for 2-months, originally for a 3-month stay. But it looks like my stay is going to be extended further. Pretty happy about that, enjoying it here! So much so that I'm thinking about opening a bank account haha.

I have a CitiBank Plus account back in Australia, it would be perfect if I can open a CitiBank account here to take advantage of CitiBank Global Transfers. But it seems like the CB accounts here have a high opening balance (and a fee for not maintaining it) or are only open to locals. Am I missing something?

Any cheap alternatives worth considering? I'm a student if that helps (on a training-type work pass). Not looking to earn interest, just basic functionality (deposit/debit card) and reasonable overseas transfers for when I head home.

Comments

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    Heya, I think a Citibank account would be best for you to enable you to transfer money between your Aus account and your Sg one for free. When I opened mine, I had to show my Employment Pass and work offer letter along with some proof of address documents so it may be tricky. No harm heading to the Citibank branch to ask though? There are reps at Orchard or their main branch at Dhoby Ghaut. I think you do need to maintain a minimum amount for the account to be free though.

    I think locals often have POSB accounts. You can try DBS too (another local bank), though I'm not sure what the actual requirements are. Feel free to share your experiences after you've found out. :) Feel free to shoot any more questions you may have.

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    I know I am a month late here but I am an Aus expat, may be able to offer you some of my 2c (or anyone else who is in this position).
    I used to be Citi customer - shut that down over the increase in minimum balance to $15k. It is absurd, and 3x the limit of other mainstream banks. Their offerings on the savings side is also poor, giving me little reason to maintain $15k with them. I do like the free transfers (CGTs) but there are fundamental problems with it:
    1. The exchange rate sucks. It was handy to bring over some emergency cash when I first moved here, but generally nope. Just stand at the ATM and cash out on your Citi Plus debit card.
    2. There is a workaround to get a good rate on the CGT. The CGT profits by putting a big markup on the FX rate, however if you have an AUD account in SG you can transfer from the AUD account in AUD to Citi AU account with no fees. They will hit you with a marked up FX rate when you transfer from your Citi SG SGD account to your Citi SG AUD account, but it was far less than the CGT FX rate.
    3. Instead of letting Citi do the FX, I just hit cash out from the ATM and went to the Arcade money changers in Raffles, changed to AUD cash then deposited into Citi SG AUD account - even after Citi's fee for handling foreign currency, still worked out better.
    Citi SG gives a 6mth waiver when you first open so you dont have to meet the $15k right away, but they also charge you a fee to close your account within 6mths - so quite frustrating.
    The long and short of it - Citi SG is trying to be exclusive, but it has just made them more useless for me.

    In my experience, if you dont mind carrying physical cash back to Australia, changing to AUD at Arcade in Raffles Place is the cheapest way to do it.

    The other banks:
    DBS/POSB - POSB savings account has a $500 minimum balance before they charge fees, so that account is great. DBS also does frequent fee-free promotions on its remittance, including to Australia. They have the biggest ATM network in SG (but also the most customers which more than offsets the ATM network). They have an ATM fee-free arrangement with Westpac so if you don't mind the 3% FX commission, you can cash out via WBC ATMs in Aus without ATM fees. They would be my pick for your situation.
    OCBC/UOB - I am not aware of any remittance promos they have for Australia. They are more or less similar - the top 3 (these 2 + DBS) have good internet banking, branch and ATM networks.
    HSBC - I don't like these guys simply for their internet banking. You cannot log in to see your balances without the physical hardware token (can't get an OTP by SMS), it is absurd.

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      New user here, just relocated from Melbourne. Just wondering if you which bank if best to deal with for transferring money from Australia to Singapore. Thank you very much

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    Thanks for the advice!

    So it sounds like changing cash around Raffles Place to AUD is the most convenient and cheapest way to taking cash back to Australia (assuming it is less than any limits on doing so).

    I still think its worth getting a bank account. E.g., to use AXS for paying for Scoot flights to avoid paying the CC surcharge (just $5 for AXS). It's a real shame about CitiBank, 15k is crazy! Really shows how lucky we are to have the CitiBank Plus account back home. The OCBC queues definitely seem shorter! And there's a branch at NTU, which is handy.

    I'm having a look at the OCBC Monthly Savings Account, which has no minimum deposit and no fall below fee. The only condition is that you deposit $50 and make no withdrawals to earn an extra 0.35% interest (versus a base of 0.05%). But if you don't care about interest, seems like a decent account to have. This actually seems like a pretty good deal, there doesn't seem to be many accounts without fees around. The other option I'm looking at is the OCBC Frank account, which is only open to students. It does have a $2 fall below fee if you're over 26 and don't maintain average monthly balance of $1000 though. But on the upside, you get 1% cash-back on purchases and a $30-60 cash bonus if you get your company to deposit your salary.

    Just waiting for the new IPA before I go give it a shot, will let you know how it goes.

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      No withdrawals kills the usefulness of an account for me haha.
      Don't bother with chasing interest too hard unless you have a salary and/or want to get a credit card. They make you jump through hoops for interest here; interest is far easier to get in Aus.

      DBS ATMs are plentiful but their customers are plentiful too. I generally find DBS an easier bank to bank with, followed by OCBC. UOB I have problems with time to time - with UOB really need to read their T&Cs, they are big users of fine print exclusions.

      Bringing cash back to Aus - just remember to declare it if you are over the $10k threshold.

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