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Singapore – Currency & Banking

1 Singapore Dollar (S$) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of S$10,000, 1000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 2. Coins are in denominations of S$1, and 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 cents. The currency of Brunei is also legal tender; 1 Brunei Dollar = 1 Singapore Dollar.

There are more than 140 commercial banks and 80 merchant banks in Singapore. Most offer full banking services, including checking and savings accounts, ATMs, fixed deposits, safe deposit boxes, loans, overdrafts and transfers. Most banks are open from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm or 4:00 pm on weekdays, and from 9:30 am to 11:00 am or 11:30 am on Saturdays. Almost all the major foreign banks are represented in Singapore, including the ABN AMRO Bank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo International Banking Group, Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Banque Indosuez, Banque Nationale de Paris, Barclays Bank, Chase Manhattan, Citibank, Credit Suisse First Boston, Deutsche Bank, Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), Moscow Narodny Bank, National Australia Bank Ltd, Standard Chartered Bank, Sumitomo, and the Union Bank of Switzerland. Major local banks include the Development Bank of Singapore (DBS), the Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), and the United Overseas Bank (UOB).

Checking accounts
Banks have different requirements for potential account holders. Minimum balances and account charges may vary. Most banks have a minimum initial deposit. You can also open a US dollar checking account.

Savings/loan rates
Banks are free to quote their interest rates. On average, rates are 2 percent for savings, 3-4 percent for fixed deposits, and 7 percent and up for loans.

Applying for a credit card
Credit cards are readily accepted in Singapore. Retailers, restaurants, hotels and even some taxis will accept international credit cards. Visa, MasterCard, Diners and American Express are all common here. Typically, to apply for a credit card, you will require an employment pass with at least 9-12 months’ validity and an annual salary of $30,000 for VISA and $48,000 for a Gold Card. Again, it’s best to check with the individual bank in question when you’re ready to apply for one.