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Depositing USD (US dollars) in SG without incurring fees

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Depositing USD (US dollars) in SG without incurring fees

Postby skyper65 » Thu, 02 May 2013 12:24 pm

How can I deposit USD (US dollars) in Singapore without incurring exorbitant service fees or incur minimal fees? I plan to open an USD bank account, hence I did like my savings to be in USD for an extended period of time and NOT Singapore dollars. I did hear banks in Singapore charge a 1.5% service fee for USD deposits.

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Re: Depositing USD (US dollars) in SG without incurring fees

Postby Mi Amigo » Thu, 02 May 2013 9:17 pm

skyper65 wrote:How can I deposit USD (US dollars) in Singapore without incurring exorbitant service fees or incur minimal fees? I plan to open an USD bank account, hence I did like my savings to be in USD for an extended period of time and NOT Singapore dollars. I did hear banks in Singapore charge a 1.5% service fee for USD deposits.

Is this for a business account or a personal account? I ask because there may be differences in charges, etc. between the two.

You may want to do a search for threads containing the word Citibank - they apparently have a service where transfers between USD accounts in the US and Singapore can be performed without transaction charges. However I'm not sure whether that only applies to personal accounts, or also to business accounts.

FWIW, I have a personal USD account with UOB and recently deposited a USD cheque into that account; no charges or deductions were made.
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Re: Depositing USD (US dollars) in SG without incurring fees

Postby JR8 » Thu, 02 May 2013 10:25 pm

skyper65 wrote:How can I deposit USD (US dollars) in Singapore without incurring exorbitant service fees or incur minimal fees? I plan to open an USD bank account, hence I did like my savings to be in USD for an extended period of time and NOT Singapore dollars. I did hear banks in Singapore charge a 1.5% service fee for USD deposits.


There is another poster ZZM (ZZM9980, if I'm not mistaken) who is the go-to guy on this. But he's been quiet this week, maybe away...

I do know Citibank are said to be good if you're from the US, and you have an a/c in the US before you leave, and then connect it with a local Citi a/c when you get to Singapore. But ZZM seems to be the authority on this...

Another option is opening a brokerage account (I use Interactive Brokers [no connection/interest]). Then you could maybe depo the funds there, or invest in some proxy like US T-bills? Or go 'risk-on' with a stock portfolio*.


* I follow a published long-term buy and hold (LTBH) diversified stock portfolio strategy. The ethos can be considered 'Invest and forget, and receive the income stream'. But it's horses for courses.

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Postby stiwi » Fri, 03 May 2013 6:26 am

There are 2 valid options for personal accounts that I know (free FCY cash deposits / withdrawals at branches):

1. Standard Chartered Bank, you need to have World Partner status at least which according to official guidelines require S$50,000 or equivalent but at the branch I was told S$20k only. You have to apply for this status at the branch and it takes few days to process. Once processed, there is no need to maintain this amount, as they don't review it automatically. Cash FCY deposits / withdrawals are free of charge over the counter.

2. DBS Multi Currency account, one account number and multiple currencies can be held. Also free deposits / withdrawals for this account only, as for other FCY current accounts there is a deposit / withdrawal fee of 1.5%.

Above mentioned banks have also quite good policy when it comes to outward international Telegraphic Transfers, where DBS charge flat fees, and SCB with WP status charge only cable fees (S$20) and waive % mentioned in the pricing schedule. Other banks do charge % on outward TT and do not waive them, only provide discounts if you are e.g. UOB privilege client / OCBC Premier.

Citibank is good indeed for CGT transfers but they won't waive cash deposits / withdrawals fees, reduced fees applies to CitiGold clients. Citibank also charge S$30 (S$20 CitiGold) for outward international TT that has been processed via their online banking system.

When it comes to incoming TT, most banks charge flat fee of S$10 (SCB, DBS, UOB), some don't charge it (Citibank).

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Postby skyper65 » Sat, 04 May 2013 1:07 am

Mi Amigo, it's for a personal account. I think depositing checks/cheques have a different set of rates or like you say free comparing to depositing USD cash into a USD bank account in Singapore.

JR8, I definitely search for this poster ZZM9980! I didn't know about Citibank has such benefits until arriving into Singapore, so I don't have a US created bank account with Citibank. I assume I can create one when I return to the US. But that may take awhile to happen since I just arrived to Singapore. That interesting regarding the brokerage account. It sounds like another way to keep money than just retail banks in Singapore. Are brokerage account holders required to invest all or a substantial amount that is in the account?

stiwi, it sounds like Citibank comes up tops for telegraphic transfers to citibank accounts overseas. I just checked with citibank today. They charge a 0.5% deposit fee for USD CASH deposit to a USD bank account. I am not sure on SCB world partner status and whether I am eligible with exception of SGD50k or SGD20k. Is it the same as priority banking at SCB?

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Postby BillyB » Sat, 04 May 2013 1:16 pm

Welcome to the forum, skyper.

What you are looking to achieve? Are you going to be paid in US / take money out of the US on a frequent basis? How large are the transactions going to be?

Whatever account you choose, the banks will make money off you in some way or another, either by:

- Charging you a service fee
- Providing you with a poor exchange rate, and / or charging you a flat fee on currency exchange
- Charging you a higher rate for incoming / outgoing telegraphic transfers

Might be easier to use two accounts and withdraw in USD, change at a local money changer, and deposit in a separate SGD account.

Also, another point to consider, unless your participating in regular and large transactions, you're gonna spend a lot of time stressing about things that really don't make much difference to an FX transaction.

A little off topic - I see so many people looking at FX rates and wasting time and effort going to different places as there are a few pips difference in the rate. If you're changing $500-10000, that amounts to peanuts.......is it worth the hassle and time to save $1-2 sgd!!??

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Postby stiwi » Sat, 04 May 2013 4:53 pm

skyper65 wrote:[...]
stiwi, it sounds like Citibank comes up tops for telegraphic transfers to citibank accounts overseas. I just checked with citibank today. They charge a 0.5% deposit fee for USD CASH deposit to a USD bank account. I am not sure on SCB world partner status and whether I am eligible with exception of SGD50k or SGD20k. Is it the same as priority banking at SCB?


Yes, it is 0.5% on FCY cash deposits:
https://www.citibank.com.sg/global_docs ... g_fees.pdf

Cheques in USD deposited to USD FCY account in UOB are free of charge but it refers to USD only. Solutions provided by me above refer to any FCY that bank can provide.

You would have to approach to SCB branch to see if it is S$20k or S$50k (they told me 20k but officially is 50k). If you ask 3 different persons you will get 3 different answers as in most SG banks the level of personnel knowledge is disappointing.

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Postby stiwi » Sat, 04 May 2013 5:02 pm

BillyB wrote:[...]
- Charging you a service fee
- Providing you with a poor exchange rate, and / or charging you a flat fee on currency exchange
- Charging you a higher rate for incoming / outgoing telegraphic transfers

Might be easier to use two accounts and withdraw in USD, change at a local money changer, and deposit in a separate SGD account.

Also, another point to consider, unless your participating in regular and large transactions, you're gonna spend a lot of time stressing about things that really don't make much difference to an FX transaction.

A little off topic - I see so many people looking at FX rates and wasting time and effort going to different places as there are a few pips difference in the rate. If you're changing $500-10000, that amounts to peanuts.......is it worth the hassle and time to save $1-2 sgd!!??


The least rip off would be MCA account at DBS since it seems they meet requirements and offers the best FX rates compares to UOB, SCB, Citi, OCBC.

Peanuts? I regularly change FCY at Arcade withdrawing FCY from SCB and according to my observations on every EUR 1000 I am S$15 ahead, so on EUR10k it is S$150.

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Postby BillyB » Sat, 04 May 2013 7:16 pm

stiwi wrote:
BillyB wrote:[...]
- Charging you a service fee
- Providing you with a poor exchange rate, and / or charging you a flat fee on currency exchange
- Charging you a higher rate for incoming / outgoing telegraphic transfers

Might be easier to use two accounts and withdraw in USD, change at a local money changer, and deposit in a separate SGD account.

Also, another point to consider, unless your participating in regular and large transactions, you're gonna spend a lot of time stressing about things that really don't make much difference to an FX transaction.

A little off topic - I see so many people looking at FX rates and wasting time and effort going to different places as there are a few pips difference in the rate. If you're changing $500-10000, that amounts to peanuts.......is it worth the hassle and time to save $1-2 sgd!!??


The least rip off would be MCA account at DBS since it seems they meet requirements and offers the best FX rates compares to UOB, SCB, Citi, OCBC.

Peanuts? I regularly change FCY at Arcade withdrawing FCY from SCB and according to my observations on every EUR 1000 I am S$15 ahead, so on EUR10k it is S$150.[/quote

You've obviously got a bank which cannot manage it's FX to get arb's like that! Have you thought about doing money changing on the side?

But in general, I still stand by my point that people waste so much time and effort hopping from money changer to money changer to save .001, .01 or even 0.1 on a transaction of a few hundred dollars. Which for the time and effort, in my opinion, simply isn't worth it......

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Postby Hidy Ho » Sat, 04 May 2013 9:21 pm

I came over with 10K USD and converted 5K to SGD and kept 5K USD.

I have both USD and SGD accounts at Citibank. They waived any fee for me to open the USD account but I don't think I'm getting any interest on the money. It's just been sitting there.

When I converted my 5K USD to SGD, I went to Mustafa to do it since Citibank rates were much lower and the difference was few hundred dollars.

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Postby JR8 » Sun, 05 May 2013 12:06 am

skyper65 wrote: That interesting regarding the brokerage account. It sounds like another way to keep money than just retail banks in Singapore. Are brokerage account holders required to invest all or a substantial amount that is in the account?


I think the issue is that a brokerage account is not likely to offer you a full service offering of any quality, live quotes, custodianship, +++, and be for free.

I think Interactive Brokers min account fee is about $10-15/month. So if you do just about any kind of trade that generates a fee, having the rest of the full service, is free in that month. I think only one period of about 3 months in a row, when I was away, did I get charged about US$10 a month for my inactivity. Otherwise one trade of say US$7-10k month/equivalent seems to have it covered. Their pricing, fees, and overall offering make any fee worth it though, IME, as they are pretty damned good. I decided on them after comparing 5+ self-invested, online offerings, they were head and shoulders top-dog.

They do FX too, though I have not traded FX through them yet. They are a BIG operation, and their volumes are huge, hence spreads nice and tight. I think you can convert and wire funds though them too. I don't think I've used that facility yet, though now I'm back in SG expect I will be soon!

You can check out their offering yourself here...
http://www.interactivebrokers.com.hk/en/main.php

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Postby stiwi » Sun, 05 May 2013 2:20 am

BillyB wrote:
stiwi wrote:[...]
You've obviously got a bank which cannot manage it's FX to get arb's like that! Have you thought about doing money changing on the side?

But in general, I still stand by my point that people waste so much time and effort hopping from money changer to money changer to save .001, .01 or even 0.1 on a transaction of a few hundred dollars. Which for the time and effort, in my opinion, simply isn't worth it......


Please show the bank which can manage FX rates properly, or you haven't been to Arcade? The FX rates offered by money changers there are close to mid-market rates. On every EUR 10.000 I am S$150 straight ahead compared to any SG banks FX rates.

I agree though that on hundreds it is a waste of time.

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Postby JR8 » Sun, 05 May 2013 4:05 pm

stiwi wrote:... or you haven't been to Arcade? The FX rates offered by money changers there are close to mid-market rates. On every EUR 10.000 I am S$150 straight ahead compared to any SG banks FX rates.


Agree re: The Arcade, you can get wafer thin spreads there (I've been going there when in-country, for 20 years now). Also, if you're doing say S$5k+ you can try and negotiate the indicated rate better by a couple of pips. There is nothing lost just asking. Maybe half the time you'll get something.

I've also done trades there at better than market. At face value that sounds odd. But I've done it while holding a Reuters live Money Markers FX rates pager so it's fact. It seems to be possible near a close of business day or week, when they're trying to unwind a long position in a currency that is 'negative' in the immediate near-term.

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Postby skyper65 » Sun, 05 May 2013 8:01 pm

stiwi wrote:
skyper65 wrote:[...]
stiwi, it sounds like Citibank comes up tops for telegraphic transfers to citibank accounts overseas. I just checked with citibank today. They charge a 0.5% deposit fee for USD CASH deposit to a USD bank account. I am not sure on SCB world partner status and whether I am eligible with exception of SGD50k or SGD20k. Is it the same as priority banking at SCB?


Yes, it is 0.5% on FCY cash deposits:
https://www.citibank.com.sg/global_docs ... g_fees.pdf

Cheques in USD deposited to USD FCY account in UOB are free of charge but it refers to USD only. Solutions provided by me above refer to any FCY that bank can provide.

You would have to approach to SCB branch to see if it is S$20k or S$50k (they told me 20k but officially is 50k). If you ask 3 different persons you will get 3 different answers as in most SG banks the level of personnel knowledge is disappointing.


I absolutely agree with you on SCB. I spoke to 3 different SCB representatives and all 3 gave different answers! An SCB personal banker said 1 transaction free each month, the telephone SCB customer officer said all transactions are free and the counter SCB teller said 1.5% for cash USD deposits. I was so disappointed with varying degrees of their answers. I spoke to the manager at the SCB branch I think and she allowed me to deposit USD cash without any fees after going from one channel to another and waiting 40 minutes for a simple transaction at the bank.

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Postby Mi Amigo » Sun, 05 May 2013 8:13 pm

skyper65 wrote:I absolutely agree with you on SCB. I spoke to 3 different SCB representatives and all 3 gave different answers!

Welcome to Singapore! :twisted:
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