How to open a fee free bank account in Singapore: Guide and Options 2023
If you’re looking for a cheap and easy way to manage your money in Singapore you’ll have plenty of account options to choose from. However, while several banks offer accounts which have monthly fees that can be waived easily, they’re not entirely fee free.
Instead, banks commonly make it fairly easy to avoid fees on local everyday transactions, but wrap their fees into other transaction types, like international transfers and withdrawals.
Specialist fintech companies like Wise or Revolut may offer cheaper overall account fees, particularly if you don’t want to maintain a high minimum balance, or if you transact internationally a lot. This guide covers all you need to know.
Fee free account options in Singapore:
Accounts from fintech companies
Bank current accounts
Best fee-free account offers in Singapore
If you’re looking for a fee free account with a major bank, you’ll be able to choose between a few products - but in reality none of them are truly fee free. Instead, what’s common is that accounts have fees which can be easily waived if you maintain a fixed minimum balance, or by signing up for other account options like online statements. Fees will still apply on some transaction types.
To find an account which helps you cut your overall costs, looking for low or no fees for the transactions you make regularly is important. To help, we’ve compared a few different options, looking at accounts from both fintech companies and banks, and analysing their products based on whether they have the following:
Account opening fee
Interest earning opportunity
ATM withdrawal fees
Foreign transaction fee
International money transfer charges
Account closure fee
Fee-free accounts from fintech companies
Banks may be the obvious place to look if you’re searching for a way to manage your money - but they’re by no means the only option. Choosing a modern fintech provider may actually work out to be cheaper overall. Accounts from fintech providers like Wise and Revolut share many of the features of fee free bank accounts, with online and in-app money management and a range of perks including multi-currency functionality. That can make them a particularly good option if you transact in foreign currencies, or love to travel. Here’s how Wise and Revolut match up on our key measures:
|Account opening fee||No fee||No fee|
|Monthly charges||No fee||Free standard plans are available - or you can upgrade to a fee paid plan up to 19.99 SGD/month|
|Interest earning opportunity||Not applicable||Not applicable|
|ATM withdrawal fees|
Up to 2 withdrawals, valued up to 350 SGD/month fee free
1.5 SGD + 1.75% fee after that
350SGD - 1050 SGD/month fee free, depending on account type
2% fee for withdrawals above plan limits
|Foreign transaction fee|
Exchange currencies from 0.41%
Free to spend any currency you hold in your account
Exchange currencies for free, subject to plan limits
Free to spend any currency you hold in your account
|International money transfer charges||From 0.41%|
International bank transfers have a variable fee, usually 0.3% - 2%, subject to minimum and maximum charges by currency
Paid plans may offer discounted transfers, depending on account type
|Account closure fee||No fee||No fee|
|Other notable features||Hold and exchange 50+ currencies||Hold and exchange 28 currencies|
Pros and cons
No minimum balance - and often no ongoing monthly fees
Low costs for many services, including foreign currency transactions
Choose from a range of different account types depending on your needs
Manage your money online or using your smart device
Not a bank - so some services, like access to credit, aren’t normally offered
No branches for face to face service
No cash deposits
Fee free bank current accounts
Let’s move on to the account types on offer from a few of the biggest banks in Singapore. While all of Singapore’s major banks have basic accounts, they’re usually not really fee free. Instead, there are just relatively easy ways to have the fees waived by holding a minimum balance or transacting frequently.
Alternatively, some banks also have basic accounts which are aimed at low income Singaporeans who are in receipt of government support. These accounts have low or no minimum balance requirements, making them more accessible - but you’ll need proof of your eligibility to get started.
Here’s a summary of the key features of basic bank accounts from some of Singapore’s largest banks.
|Bank/service||OCBC 360 Account||DBS My Account||UOB One Account|
|Account opening fee||No fee - 1,000 SGD minimum opening deposit required||No fee||No fee - 1,000 SGD minimum opening deposit required|
2 SGD, waived for the first year
Monthly charge waived if you hold at least 3,000 SGD in your account
|No fee as long as you accept digital statements|
5 SGD, waived for the first 6 months
Monthly charge waived if you hold at least 1,000 SGD in your account
|Interest earning opportunity||Up to 2.38%, subject to meeting eligibility requirements which may include signing up for additional products and services||Not applicable||Up to 3%, subject to meeting eligibility requirements which may include signing up for additional products and services|
|ATM withdrawal fees|
Local and in network withdrawals may be free
3% service fee (minimum 5 SGD, maximum 20 SGD) + foreign transaction fee
|Fees vary by currency, minimum 10 SGD|
Free at UOB ATMs in Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia
5 SGD elsewhere
|Foreign transaction fee||2.25%||Fees vary by currency and linked card||3.25%|
|International money transfer charges|
1/8% (minimum 10 SGD, maximum 100 SGD) + agent charge + 20 SGD cable fee
10 SGD fee to receive payment
1/8% (minimum 10 SGD, maximum 120 SGD) + agent charge + 20 SGD cable fee
10 SGD fee to receive payment
In branch or by phone: 1/8% (minimum 10 SGD, maximum 100 SGD)+ agent charge + cable fee
Online: 1/16% (minimum 10 SGD, maximum 100 SGD)+ agent charge + cable fee
5 SGD fee to receive payment
|Account closure fee||30 SGD if you close within 6 months of opening account||30 SGD if you close within 6 months of opening account||30 SGD if you close within 6 months of opening account|
|Other notable features||Credit your salary, save, insure or invest to earn higher interest||Add in a selection of features to customise your account to your needs||Interest earned depends on the way you use your account|
Pros and cons of bank checking accounts
Lots of options from different banking brands
Branch network for in person transactions
Access a full range of financial services from one provider
Many fees can be waived
Transaction fees still apply
Accounts often offer SGD as the sole currency
Eligibility requirements apply for all account types
To sum up: It’s pretty much impossible to avoid all banking fees - but you can definitely cut the costs of managing your money, by choosing an account which has low fees for the transactions you make often, and no ongoing charges. If you’re a frequent traveller or shop online with international ecommerce retailers, the costs of foreign transactions can make a big difference to your overall banking fees. In this case, having a low cost multi-currency account from a provider like Wise or Revolut can be a useful tool in bringing down overall costs. If you prefer to manage your money through a regular bank with in person service options, looking for an account with options to have ongoing fees waived can be a smart move and mean you pay less overall.
How to choose a fee-free bank account?
Finding an account which offers you fee free everyday transactions can allow you to really make the most of your money. However, choosing the right account for you will mean doing a bit of research. Because banks and account providers often use low headline fees, but wrap their operating costs up in specific transaction types, you’ll need to read through all the fees which can apply to your account carefully. Look in particular at the costs of sending and receiving international payments, and spending and withdrawing in a foreign currency - as these are commonly areas where banks add extra costs.
Use this guide as a starting point, and remember to compare both banks and modern alternative providers such as Wise or Revolut to find one which best suits your individual needs.
Documents and eligibility
You can open many accounts from Singapore banks online or via the bank’s own app. However you’ll usually need to be signed up to SingPass to get started, and if you’re not a Singapore citizen or PR you’ll also often need to upload a few extra documents to show you’re legally resident.
Normally to open a fee free account from a regular bank you’ll need:
Proof of identity
Proof of address
Valid pass (employment pass or dependent pass for example) if you’re a foreigner
If you’re applying for an account from a specialist online service like Wise or Revolut you’ll need to provide proof of ID and address. If you’re not based in Singapore you may be able to use a foreign proof of ID to get your account set up.
When you might need a fee-free basic bank account
Getting a Singapore account which doesn’t charge a monthly fee can mean cutting down your overall banking costs. That’s appealing for many people including new arrivals in Singapore, international students, people opening their first bank account - and more or less anyone who wants to cut down the costs of managing their money.
However it’s worth noting that some of the basic accounts from major Singapore banks still have minimum deposit requirements which can be restrictive if you don’t want to tie up your SGD funds.
Options when we can't get a fee-free with your bank
While it’s pretty easy to open a bank account once you’re established in Singapore and have all the right documentation to hand, it’s almost impossible to open an account if you don’t have a proof of address and legal residency.
If you’re moving to Singapore and looking for a way to manage your money for a lower cost, picking an online and digital provider like Wise or Revolut can be an easier and more flexible option. You’ll be able to use your normal ID and proof of address from your home country, to get your account up and running, and may be able to access SGD bank details to send and receive payments even before you arrive in Singapore.
There are costs involved in providing financial services - which ultimately means that completely fee free banking isn’t an option. However, it is possible to bring down the costs of managing your money, by picking an account which offers low or no fees for the transactions you make often, with no ongoing service fees.
Depending on your personal preferences, you might find an alternative specialist provider like Wise or Revolut offers better value compared to a traditional bank. Accounts are typically flexible and packed with features - but with no ongoing fees or minimum balances to worry about. Compare a few different options to find the perfect fit for your needs.
Basic bank accounts in Singapore often come with no monthly fees as long as you fulfil eligibility requirements, like signing up for digital statements, or holding a fixed minimum balance amount. If you don’t want to tie up your funds in a minimum balance clause, check out online alternatives like Wise and Revolut which can often offer cheaper and more flexible options.
Transaction fees apply on all accounts - so to keep your current account fee free you’ll need to look carefully at the costs applied, and avoid the types of transactions that come with fees. You can often cut down costs by using in-network ATMs for example, and avoiding foreign currency transactions.
Current accounts may pay interest, depending on the specific product and provider. It’s often the case that you’ll need to sign up for additional products and services like credit or insurance from a bank to access their best interest rates.