A foreign currency account is a convenient tool for many people who need to send or receive payments internationally. You’ll be able to hold your money in one or more currencies aside from Singapore dollars - handy if you’re paid in a different currency, or remit money to loved ones abroad.
There’s a broad range of foreign currency accounts in Singapore for both personal and business use, including multi-currency options from traditional banks, and new alternatives like the Wise borderless account.
Borderless account allows customers hold their money in any of over 50 currencies in the same account, switch between them and make payments easily for low transparent fees. We will talk more about that in a moment.
To help you decide which foreign currency account is right for you, have a look at this UOB multi-currency account review in Singapore, covering all you need about how UOB’s foreign currency accounts work - and what they might cost you.
UOB offers foreign currency accounts to both new and established personal customers, and business clients. The multi-currency accounts available include:
- Global Currency Account (chequing account)
- Global Currency Premium Account (savings account)
- Global Currency Account (business and corporate)
To open a personal Global Currency Account, you’ll need to be aged at least 21. The account can be opened by Singaporeans, Permanent Residents and foreigners - but you’ll need a letter of introduction from a UOB account holder if you’re not a Singapore resident. There is also a minimum initial deposit, and minimum daily balance applied to this account. You’ll pay a fee if your account balance falls below this level. ¹
The Global Currency Premium Account is open to existing UOB customers aged 21 or above. Singaporeans, Permanent Residents and foreigners are all eligible to open this account, but you’ll need to pay in a minimum amount depending on which currency you want to activate.²
The eligibility for a UOB global currency account for companies depends on the type of business you have. The requirements are different for a sole proprietor compared to the owner of a private limited company, for example. The full list of requirements and documents you’ll need to open an account is available on the UOB dedicated business banking webpage.³
Individual customers can choose a Global Currency Account, which is available in 10 different currencies. These are US, Australian, Canadian, Hong Kong and New Zealand dollars, euros, British pounds, Chinese renminbi, Japanese yen and Swiss francs.¹
If you’re already a customer at UOB, you might also be able to open a Global Currency Premium account, which covers 8 foreign currencies and has no monthly service charges. There are some further eligibility requirements related to this account which we will cover later.²
If you’re looking for a UOB global corporate account, you can open a multi-currency account for your business. The Global Currency Account targeted at business customers is available in 9 major currencies, and comes with free cheque books and ATM card.³
The multi-currency accounts available to personal customers do not come with a linked credit or debit card, although you may be able to get a cheque book.
The business version of the UOB foreign currency account does offer a free corporate ATM card.³
To apply for a UOB foreign currency account, you’ll have to visit a UOB branch near you. In some branches you can make an appointment online and for some accounts you can download the application forms needed via the UOB website, to make sure you have everything you need.
In addition to the completed application from you’ll need to take your initial deposit payment in cash or a cheque, and your NRIC if available. If you don’t have an NRIC you can take your passport, proof of address and your employment pass or similar documentation proving you’re a legal resident in Singapore.²
For business accounts there are further documentary requirements based on the business type you have.⁴
If you want to get a multi-currency account but haven’t yet decided which might suit your needs, it’s definitely worth comparing a few options and providers. There are foreign currency accounts available from many traditional banks, as well as new options like the multi-currency borderless account from Wise.
The borderless account is a convenient and flexible way to manage your money in over 50 currencies, all in the same place. There’s no minimum balance or monthly fee to worry about, and you can check your balance, make payments or exchange currencies easily using the app. There’s just a low transparent fee to pay for currency exchange, which is usually between 0.3% - 3% of the transfer value.
If you get paid in a foreign currency as a freelancer, a borderless account can also be a great option because you can get local bank details to receive fee free payments in euros, US, New Zealand and Australian dollars, and British pounds. You can then hold the money in any currency you wish, withdraw it to a local bank account, or spend it however you like.
Here’s how to get started with a borderless account for your personal or business use:
- Head to the borderless page of the Transferwise website
- Click the option to Get my borderless account
- Follow the instructions on screen to register your personal details and verify your identity
- Activate one or more currencies - you can always add more later
- Send funds to your account in the currency you’ve chosen, using your card or a bank transfer
- Manage your money in over 50 different currencies
Learn more about the borderless account, including details about how to apply and operate your account, and how to contact the customer support team, in this helpful guide.
Here are a few points to compare if you’re trying to decide between the UOB multi-currency accounts available, and an alternative like the borderless account from Transferwise.
|UOB Global Currency Accounts
|Wise borderless account
|Account opening fee
|Free, subject to making the required minimum deposit.
|Costs to send from the account
|Costs depend on the account type and amount. E.g. a debit from a Global Currency Account will be between S$10 - S$100 with exchange; max. S$300 without exchange + cable charges + agent charges (if any)⁵
|A small fixed fee, that differs per currency.
|Over 50 available foreign currencies
|UOB Singapore exchange rate is available online⁶ and may include a markup or currency spread
|All currency conversion is carried out at the mid-market rate
The sheer number of options out there for multi-currency accounts can make it tricky to decide which is best for your needs. However, it’s well worth investing some time in understanding the features and benefits of a few different account types, so you can get one to suit. It’ll save you time and money in the long run.
This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.
We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.