Choosing the most suitable bank for your business can be a huge step in the right direction. Photo credit: Pexels
The sooner you can get this done, the better. After all, speed is the name of the game for almost anything these days – even when it comes to setting up a business bank account.
The good news: As an SME owner, you are pretty much spoilt for choices when it comes to business accounts.
The competition is stiff out there, and banks (and non-banks, even) know this. So they are willing and able to do more to get you to bank with – and on – them.
The only thing you have to figure out is which one works best for your business, then sit back and enjoy the perks and convenience.
If this is your first time setting up a business bank account, here are a few things to look out for before you commit to one.
Here is a quick checklist:
● Can you sign up online or must you do it in person?
● Is an initial deposit required?
● Is a minimum balance needed?
● What are the monthly fees and charges?
● Criteria for your company to be eligible
● Does it work in tandem with any apps for easy access?
● Is it linked to a multi-currency account?
The reality is that although you are just signing up for a business bank account, the bank is likely to offer you a suite of products to complement the business account that you just opened. Sort of like the sides that go with a main.
A few of these complementary products can make a lot of sense and are pretty useful, so consider them carefully based on your needs.
Product: DBS Business Digital Account (SGD)
Eligibility criteria: Three or less Singaporeans or permanent residents (PRs) who fully own Singapore-incorporated companies and have a DBS/POSB personal account can open a business account instantly online.
Application procedure: Single directors or sole proprietors with a DBS/POSB account can apply online with just the company’s ACRA Business Registration number, personal DBS/POSB iBanking login or Debit/ATM card and PIN details. Start using the account the next business day.
Multiple directors or partners in a company can also apply online using the ACRA Business Registration number and contact details of all account users.
The bank will call within one business day to verify your identity and send a courier to pick up your documents. Your account will be ready the next business day.
What’s good: Get unlimited free digital tokens, and use your iOS or Android phone to authenticate your transactions.
Optional add-ons: You can enjoy free access with DBS IDEAL, an online banking platform that allows you to view up to 7 years’ worth of e-statements. Get email or SMS notifications when your monthly e-statement is ready.
Fees and charges: You need an initial deposit of S$1,000 to start your business account. A monthly fee of S$18 also applies. But there is no minimum balance or fall-below fees.
Product: UOB eBusiness Account (SGD)
Eligibility criteria: Only applicable to Singapore-registered sole proprietor, partnership and private limited companies fully owned by Singaporean citizens or PRs.
Not more than two directors of private limited companies must be also the approved signatories and approved persons of the company.
Application procedure: Make your application online between 8:30am to 9pm to get the account open instantly – if not, your application will only be processed the next working day.
The online form will be pre-filled once you retrieve your information through MyInfo Business.
Applicants need to prepare the company’s Corppass login credentials, as well as the Singpass login credentials for the company’s business owners, partners and directors – who must be Singaporeans or PRs.
Read more about the documents you need to prepare here.
What’s good: Enjoy free access to UOB Infinity, the bank’s digital banking feature, and a waiver of monthly subscription for Bulk Services, one of which is GIRO Payroll.
Get 100% rebates for up to 60 GIRO Payment & Collection transactions per month, and rebates for up to 60 FAST/PayNow transactions per month via UOB Infinity. You can also get free transaction alerts on email (eAlerts).
Optional add-ons: You can also enjoy a free trial of the UOB BizSmart Digital Solution.
Current promotion: Get a $100 fee waiver when you apply for the UOB Express Banker’s Guarantee.
Fees and charges: $35 annually. A minimum deposit of $1,000 is required, as well as a minimum balance of $5,000. For new accounts, the monthly S$15 fall-below fee will be waived in the month when the account was first opened and the next 11 months.
In a nutshell: The annual fee of $35 is reasonable. However, you need a minimum balance of $5,000. A monthly $15 fall-below fee will be charged after the first year.
But the free trial of UOB BizSmart Digital Solution is useful, as are the fee rebates offered for GIRO, and FAST/PayNow payment transactions via UOB Infinity.
Product: OCBC Business Growth Account (SGD)
Eligibility criteria: All Singapore-incorporated companies opening their first OCBC Business Banking Account. Businesses must be owned by one or two Singaporeans and PRs only.
Application procedure: You can open your business account safely and quickly online.
Singaporean or PR applicants just need to prepare their login details for Singpass (MyInfo), or Corppass (MyInfo Business), or OCBC Personal Internet Banking, as well as images of their signatures for Singpass or Corppass.
What’s good: No initial deposit is required – the “only bank” to do so, says OCBC. You can also enjoy unlimited free FAST and GIRO transactions. There is no fall-below fee.
Optional add-ons: See your account summary, and payment and collection history with its digital banking feature called OCBC Velocity Digital Business Banking.
Get a bird’s eye view of your business performance from the Digital Business Dashboard – by just viewing one device. The dashboard is free for all OCBC Business Banking customers.
Current promotion: Open an OCBC Multi-Currency Business Account together with the OCBC Business Growth Account to get a “perpetual waiver” – you get both accounts but pay only one S$10 account fee monthly.
Fees and charges: No initial deposit; no fall-below fee; and free GIRO and FAST transactions. But a S$10 monthly fee applies from the third month onwards.
In a nutshell: The unlimited free FAST and GIRO transactions are good plus points, as well as the lack of an initial deposit or fall-below fee.
Product: Maybank FlexiBiz Account (SGD)
Eligibility criteria: Open to sole proprietors, partnerships, limited liability partnerships, incorporated companies, charities, societies and associations.
Application procedure: You can’t just open an account online; you need to turn up at a Maybank branch to open a business account.
What’s good: There are three tiers of interest rates here, with 0.038% per annum being the highest for account balances above S$500,000, and 0.018% per annum for the first S$50,000.
However, there is no minimum balance requirement. Enjoy round-the-clock service with Business Internet Banking.
Optional add-ons: Get rebates on instant fund transfers via FAST, GIRO payments, automated salary payments and fund transfers to Malaysia Maybank Accounts via RegionLink, as well as international telegraphic transfers.
Current promotion: From now until 31st December 2021, open a FlexiBiz account with S$5,000 fresh funds, register and receive at least one fund transfer via PayNow with the bank to receive S$50 cash rewards. Terms and conditions apply.
Fees and charges: S$1,000 initial deposit required. No monthly or fall-below fees. Check the pricing guide here.
How to apply: Fill up the application form here and find out which documents you’ll need to bring here. Call 1800 – 629 2265 (1800 – MAYBANK) to make an appointment. Do read the rules and regulations as well.
In a nutshell: It may be a lot of hassle applying in person, but it could be a good choice if you make a lot of fund transfers – because it appears the more you transact, the more you save.
Product: Aspire Business Account (SGD)
Eligibility criteria: All business entities in Singapore registered with ACRA are eligible.
Aspire is not a traditional bank per se, but the “#1 Business Neobank in Southeast Asia” offers SME owners a suite of financial tools with which to run their businesses with “no long waits, paperwork, or hidden fees”.
Application procedure: It just takes five minutes to sign up for this 100% free and digital account online, but the applicant needs to be the company director.
No branch visit is required – just submit your identity document (NRIC, passport, Employment Pass, Dependant’s Pass or Work Pass), or apply via Singpass (MyInfo).
What’s good: You can download the business account as an app (from the App Store or Google Play) or use it on your desktop to start sending and receiving money from any bank account.
You can also use it to make bulk payments, and configure your account to have multi-user access with different permissions.
Optional add-ons: The Aspire Card is a free virtual card linked to your Aspire Business Account.
You can earn 1% cashback on marketing and software-as-a-service (SaaS) spend, and save on foreign exchange rates with a low, transparent 0.7% fee. You can even create a card for each employee.
Fees and charges: There are no minimum deposit, no monthly or fall-below fees for the business account. Check out the pricing guide here. There are also no application or annual fees associated with the Aspire Card.
In a nutshell: With no minimum deposit, monthly or fall-below fees charged for the business account, plus the added flexibility of the Aspire Card that offers cashback, this is a excellent choice for start-ups and SME owners.
Oh, and the 100% online application process is a huge plus.
Unless you have an impressive stash of funds, it is best to look at the business bank account that offers more flexibility in terms of the top four things – initial deposit, minimum balance, monthly fees and fall-below fees.
The next thing to consider is if there are other add-ons and services that can help you run your business more easily and smoothly (not needing to go down in person to open the account is a great start in this pandemic age) – and if these are chargeable.
Lastly, look at the payment options offered, and see if these come with rebates or are free.
All information correct at time of publishing. However, prices and promotions stated are subject to change at the discretion of the banks or Neobank. Please contact the respective bank or Neobank directly if you have any queries or require any clarification.
Belinda loves thinking about random stuff, and collecting useless bits of facts and trivia. She often roots for the underdog, and believes the world needs more happy endings.