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Which Singapore Bank is the Best?

Goh Jun Cheng

Singaporeans enjoy access to a wide array of consumer banking options provided by local and international banks. But which bank ultimately provides the best overall proposition in Singapore?

This comprehensive article reviews and compares the strengths of Singapore’s major retail banks.

Local Banks

Singapore’s three largest local banks are DBS, OCBC and UOB. They collectively dominate the retail banking landscape.

DBS

As the largest local bank, DBS provides unmatched convenience with over 200 branches and 1100 ATMs islandwide. Its digital banking capabilities lead the market, with innovative services like DBS digibank for mobile-only banking. DBS also offers quality research reports, investment advice, and high interest savings accounts. However, service fees can be on the high side.

OCBC

OCBC has a major presence through its strong network of branches and ATMs conveniently located across residential hubs. It offers very competitive deposit savings and current account interest rates to attract funds. OCBC was among the pioneers of credit card rewards programs. But its digital banking functionality lags rivals.

UOB

UOB provides a wide spectrum of products from savings accounts and cards to home loans. It leverages technology well as seen in cellphone wallet integrations like UOB Mighty. UOB has among the largest networks of ATMs. But branch availability is lower outside the central region. Minimum balance rules also apply.

Key Strengths of Local Banks

In general, Singapore’s local banks share common strengths:

  • Extensive branch and ATM availability islandwide
  • Wide suite of financial products from savings to loans and insurance
  • Relative stability from being systemically important institutions
  • Convenient integration with Singapore’s efficient e-payment systems
  • Longstanding trust gained through generations of Singaporean customers
  • High salaried career opportunities to attract local talent

Foreign Banks

Foreign banks like Citi, HSBC and Standard Chartered hold key niches despite having smaller retail reach than local banks.

Citibank

Citibank Singapore provides premium credit card offerings unmatched for rewards. Its Citigold wealth banking combined with mortgage rates often undercuts local banks. However, Citibank lacks extensive branch presence. Minimum salary requirements also apply for accounts. But online accessibility is strong.

HSBC

HSBC leverages its global expertise in areas like fixed deposits with attractive interest rates, market-linked investments and Renminbi banking. However, service fees are on the high side. Branch network is also quite limited making HSBC more suited for affluent clients.

Standard Chartered Known for top-tier credit cards and unsecured loans, Standard Chartered Bank excels in premium offerings and digital innovation. But its branch and ATM availability is low. Minimum income levels also apply. Basic savings accounts options are fewer compared to local banks. But overall digital innovation is a strength.

Foreign Bank Advantages

Key strengths of international banks in Singapore:

  • Strong branding and service quality associated with established global banks
  • Advanced digital and mobile banking functionality
  • Regimented wealth management expertise and premium banking services
  • Globally diversified products and services
  • Industry expertise in segments like investment banking
  • International ATM network for overseas access

Choosing the Best Bank

The right bank depends on individual priorities – whether branch availability, interest rates, fees, digital experience or specific products matter most.

Local banks like OCBC and UOB may suit basic savings and loans needs well for their extensive physical reach.

Those wanting market-leading digital banking may prefer DBS digibank.

Citibank, HSBC and Standard Chartered are ideal for premium banking or unique services like foreign currency.

In summary, Singaporeans benefit from healthy banking competition. Customers can pick the bank fitting their lifestyle financial needs the best by comparing holistic propositions.

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