Planning on opening a DBS multi-currency account in Singapore? Read this comprehensive guide on everything you need to know before
A multi-currency, or foreign currency account lets customers keep their money in one or more currencies other than Singapore dollars. These accounts are handy for people who travel a lot and need to make international payments to cover their costs, those who remit money home to friends and family, and freelancers working internationally.
Pretty much anyone who lives an international lifestyle could find that a multi-currency account makes their life easier - and can work out cheaper, too.
This article will cover all you need to know about the multi-currency accounts from HSBC Singapore - as well as providing an alternative, the borderless account from Wise, for comparison.
With a borderless account you can hold over 40 currencies in the same account, and exchange your money easily via the app, for a low transparent fee. The currency conversion is done using the mid-market exchange rate, so you’ll always get a great deal when you send international payments or switch your money to another currency.
Use this handy guide to learn more about the HSBC foreign currency account options available to you, to help you get the best account for your needs.
If you want a savings account, you could choose the HSBC Everyday Global Account (renamed from Multi-Currency Savings Account), or a Foreign Currency Time Deposit Account. If you need a day to day checking account, your options include the HSBC Advance Account and the HSBC Foreign Currency Current Account.¹
There are eligibility requirements for each of these account types. To open a Multi-Currency Savings Account or Foreign Currency Current Account you must be over 18 and can be a resident or non-resident of Singapore.
In terms of documents, you’ll also need to provide your NRIC or Employment Pass and depending on the account type and personal situation, you may also need to provide the passport and a proof of the residential address.
Depending on the account type, you may need to put down an initial deposit, which is S$2,000 (or its equivalent) for the Everyday Global Account, and the currency equivalent of US$5,000 for the Foreign Currency Current Account. ²‘³
Foreign Currency Time Deposit Accounts allow you to deposit money in a range of currencies for between 1 and 12 months, and earn interest. You may lose your interest if you withdraw some or all of the deposit before it matures. The minimum deposit varies by currency, but is roughly the equivalent of USD25,000.⁵
To find out if you are eligible for this account type, you’ll need to contact an HSBC wealth manager to discuss your personal circumstances.
To open an HSBC Advance Account, you must be over 18, and either pay a monthly service fee of $10, or meet one of the following eligibility criteria:
- Hold a minimum balance across all HSBC accounts of at least $30,000
- Have your salary of at least $3,500 paid into the account monthly, with a grace period to reach the $30,000 minimum balance
- Be an existing customer holding an HSBC home loan with an initial loan quantum of $200,000 or more. ⁴ If you want to know more about the eligibility criteria, you can visit the bank’s dedicated webpage for this product or get in touch with the customer support team.
The HSBC Everyday Global Account, Foreign Currency Time Deposit Account and the HSBC Advance Account are available in a range of currencies as well as Singapore dollars. You’ll be able to manage your money in any of the following currencies, subject to the account’s terms and conditions: Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, US, Hong Kong dollar, Euro, Japanese yen, UK pound sterling, Chinese renminbi and Swiss franc. ²’⁴’⁵
The Everyday Global Account is intended for savings, and as such pays interest on the balance held. The higher your balance, the better the rate you’ll receive.
The Advance Account has a few different features, including an auto convert option which allows you to set a target exchange rate, to change your money automatically if your chosen exchange rate is reached. This account also allows customers to check and manage their balance alongside any other HSBC accounts they might hold, and send money to other HSBC accounts quickly. ⁴
Foreign Currency Current Accounts are designed to let you handle your day to day banking easily, and are available in the following currencies: Australian, New Zealand, US, Hong Kong dollar, Euro, Japanese yen and UK pound sterling. ³
The HSBC Everyday Global Account doesn’t come with either a debit card or a cheque book. However, some existing customers with may be able to apply for a Premier debit card, depending on the accounts held. ²
If you choose to get an HSBC Advance Account, you’ll also be able to get a linked debit card, and a credit card to use for your day to day spending. ⁴
The Foreign Currency Current Account from HSBC offers a cheque book if you choose to operate the account in USD, and an ATM card for all currencies. ³
ATM cards are usually different from debit or credit cards. ATM cards still allow its customers to withdraw money and make deposits, but as the name says, they are solely intended for ATM transactions. ⁶
Time Deposit Accounts don’t come with a linked debit card or cheque book.
To apply for a multi-currency account with HSBC, you can complete your details online, and have a member of the team get in touch with you to check eligibility and make an appointment.
You’ll need to provide a few documents, which can include:
- A proof of identity such as a passport
- Proof of your address
- NRIC or employment pass if needed
Multi-currency accounts are great for people from all walks of life. However, there are a wide variety of options out there, which come with very different features and fees. It makes sense to compare a few different account products and providers to make sure you find the one which suits you.
You’ll want to look at the foreign currency accounts which are available from traditional banks, but it’s also a good idea to check out new options including the Wise multi-currency borderless account.
Customers love the borderless account because it’s a convenient way to save, spend and manage your money. You can hold over 40 different currencies in your account with no minimum balance to maintain or monthly fee to pay.
The account is opened and operated online, so you can do everything from checking your balance, to making transfers and switching your money between currencies using the Transferwise app. There’s a small transparent fee for currency exchange, which is usually around 0.3% - 3% of the amount exchanged, depending on the currency.
When you open your borderless account you’ll also be able to activate local bank details for the following currencies: Euro, USD, GBP, NZD and AUD. This lets you receive payments for free in the mentioned currencies, which can be handy if you’re a freelancer and get paid in a currency other than Singapore dollars. Hold your payments in the borderless account, withdraw to your usual bank account, or spend the money any way you want to.
What to get hold of your own borderless account? Here’s how.
- Visit the Transferwise website, and go to the dedicated borderless account page
- Click Get my borderless account
- Register and verify your personal details and identity
- Choose the currencies you want to use - you can add more whenever you want to
- Top up your account with the currency you’ve chosen, either with your card or a bank transfer
- Send, receive and spend your money in dozens of different currencies
Check out this helpful guide, to learn more about the borderless account, and get details of how to contact the customer support team.
When you are choosing the right multi-currency account for your needs, it’s a good idea to compare a few options. To get you started, here’s a comparison of the HSBC Advance account and the Wise borderless account.
|HSBC Advance Account||Wise borderless account|
|Fee to open an account||No fee, although there may be a minimum opening deposit requirement ⁴||No fee|
|Monthly maintenance charge||$10 unless you hit the minimum eligibility criteria ⁴||No fee|
|Minimum balance|| ||None|
|Costs for sending payments||Will vary depending on whether you use internet banking, or a payment in branch. Expect to pay up to S$55 for a transfer ⁴||A small fixed fee, depending on the currency.|
|Currencies available||11 currencies, including Singapore dollars||Over 40 available foreign currencies|
|Exchange rate||There may be a markup added to the exchange rate used to convert your money from one currency to another||All currency conversion is carried out at the mid-market rate|
The right multi-currency account for you is out there - you just have to find it. Do a bit of research across the main retail banks here in Singapore, and alternative providers like Wise, to get the best deal for your needs.
Sources used for the article:
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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