Singapore - Bank System
When coming to Singapore it is best to bring some cash or travellers checks that can be exchanged at the airport to get you started. Foreign currency banknotes and travellers checks can also be changed easily at most banks. Because Singapore also has a large number of tourists there are money changing booths all over the city. They will usually provide a better rate of exchange than banks. ATMs linked to global banking networks such as Cirrus, Plus and Visa can be found everywhere. You will be charged a service fee by your bank. You can pay for most things with a credit card, such as hotels, restaurants, groceries, clothing in stores (not the markets), the movies, etc. You will need cash for public transportation.
Checks (Cheques in Singapore which mostly uses British
Singapore banks issue standardised cheques which can be processed electronically. The cheque book should include a sample cheque as an example of the correct way to write a cheque. Always use blue or black ink. If you draw two parallel diagonal lines in the upper left corner – the cheque can only to be deposited into a bank account and not cashed. If you cross out ‘or bearer’, to the right of the payee line – the cheque can only be deposited into the account of the named payee. This is a good idea if you a giving a cheque to a delivery man.
For depositing cheques, local banks have a service where you post the cheque into a box in the bank lobby area. When depositing cheques, always write your name, account number and telephone number on the back of the cheque.
Cash Flow Problems
You will have cash flow problems unless you wire money to a new account or bring cash. It takes time for checks of any sort to clear. See above for opening a bank account.
Singapore has a well established banking system with three major local banks offering a full service of consumer banking including ATMs, telephone banking and internet banking. Since 1999 the Singapore government has allowed six major international banks to enter the local banking market. They can provide the same services as local banks but until recently have only been allowed to have a few branches and 15 ATMs. All foreign-issued credit cards can be used in Singapore.
The exchange rate of the Singapore dollar is managed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Funds can be transferred in and out of Singapore freely and in any currency.
Housing loans are available to expatriates at most local and
foreign banks. Compare interest rates and other conditions. One condition to
look out for is a prepayment penalty - some banks allow you to you pay off
your loan earlier but other banks may have a financial penalty if you do
Non-Singaporeans are restricted to the type of properties that they can buy. Special permission is needed to purchase ‘Landed’ property (see section Housing typology). Newly built condominiums are probably the easiest type of property to purchase. Banks will usually lend up to 80% of the value of the property and less if the property is for investment.
All of the Singapore local banks and some of the international banks (Citibank, HSBC, Maybank and Standard Chartered) issue ATM cards. ATM machines are located all over the city. The international banks however have only a small number of branches and ATMs. Daily withdrawals are usually limited to around S$3,000.
Foreign currency banknotes and travellers checks can be changed easily at most banks. As Singapore also has a large number of tourists there are money changing booths all over the city. They will usually provide a better rate of exchange than banks. ATMs linked to global banking networks such as Cirrus, Plus and Visa can be found everywhere.
This does not seem to be a big problem in Singapore. Internet banking is popular and there was at one time a problem with the security of some on-line transactions. Singapore banks have since improved their on-line banking security.