Moving to a new country can be an overwhelming experience – getting to know the people, culture, language, and of course, having a long list of administrative tasks to complete before you can finally settle down. Let Valuepenguin help you here with all your essential financial needs as an expatriate here in Singapore.
1. Banking Needs
There are a large number of banks in Singapore, consisting of both local and foreign banks. Local banks here are considered very safe by global standards, especially banks like DBS, OCBC and UOB which have been accredited high credit ratings from global risk rating agencies. All banks here are regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore(MAS) and SGD-denominated accounts are insured by the Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation(SDIC) up to $50,000.
Before choosing a bank, you need to consider your banking needs. Do you need one with a large number of ATMs around where you will be able to withdraw cash easily? Would you need a foreign currency account? These are some questions you need to ask yourself.
Opening a bank account here is an easy affair – you only need your employment pass and a local address.
There are a few types of banking accounts, with the most popular being a savings account. Your employer would need your savings account number in order to deposit your monthly salary. Alternatively, a current account works similar to a savings account but enables you to issue cheques.
For an expat, you may want to look into multi-currency accounts in order for you to manage your money here as well as transfers to and from your home country. Here are some multi-currency accounts you can consider:
- DBS Expatriate Programme – The programme offers a suite of financial products and services specially catering to the needs of expats in Singapore. It includes a multi-currency account which allows you to hold SGD and up to 12 different foreign currencies. It also allows you to perform overseas fund transfers easily and issues the DBS Altitude Credit card, which is a credit card that lets you earn 3 miles per S$1 spent on online flight and hotel transactions.
- UOB Global Currency Account – The account allows you to choose from 10 available currencies and you get to earn daily interest on selected currencies.
- HSBC Global View – If you have an HSBC account in your home country, you can set up an account at a local branch so that you can experience one view of all your HSBC accounts all over the world. With Glocal View and Global Transfer, you enjoy fast currency transfers and preferential rates on all forex transactions.
- OCBC Global savings Account – choose from 9 major currencies and open your savings account in your preferred currency.
2. Credit Cards
Credit cards are commonly used and widely-accepted here in Singapore, providing you with a convenient means of payment. The minimum requirement to apply for a credit card is usually a yearly salary of S$45,000-S$60,000 for foreigners. While you can easily pay for anything with your debit card as well, the smart usage of credit cards can give you certain advantages, such as enjoy dining perks, earning cash rebates, petrol discounts and air miles rewards.
Also, it is important to note that Singapore has some of the highest payment processing fees in the world, which is used to fund generous rewards programs. Given this, we advise everyone, not just expats, to carefully consider acquiring a rewards credit card to use in Singapore.
Before getting a credit card, you should think about your spending pattern and use our credit card tool to find one that suits you best. We've also put together a guide to help you navigate the complex credit card landscape in Singapore.
While most cards do charge an annual card fee, it is an open secret that if you use your card frequently enough, you will be able to give the bank a call to ask for a fee waiver.
All expatriates working in Singapore would need to pay taxes here, which is administered by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS). Your company will either file it for you or you can file for it online. Personal income taxes here are on a progressive basis, which means you pay more when you earn a higher income. Tax chargeable starts at 2% when you earn between $20,000to $30,000, and up to a maximum of 20% when your annual income hits $320,000.
You will be considered a tax resident in Singapore if your period of stay is equal to or more than 183 days in a year, or if you are a Singapore Permanent Residency. You do not need to pay taxes on foreign income received in Singapore and there are no capital gains taxes here as well.
4. How Do I Rent An Apartment Here?
Rental property is rather easy to find here, and the best way is to visit one of the many property portals available here. Most of these allow you to search by budget, area and other criteria such as proximity to public transport, size of the apartment and type of property. Some of these property portals include:
Most rentals require a minimum of a 1-year lease and a 1 or 2 month rental deposit. As an expat, do look to include the diplomatic clause in your tenancy contract which allows an expat to terminate the lease after 12 months by giving 2 months' notice. This only applies if the expat is transferred to another country or retrenched by his current company.
We've covered some of the financial essentials for expats who are new to Singapore. Read on for more tips and remember to use our tool to find the best credit card for your usage!
Article by Lynette Tan