Products Comparisons

We Compare Business Loans: Standard Chartered vs Maybank vs Citi

Eric Koh
July 30, 2018

(Updated in 2020)

Due to the economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Singapore government has offered various support measures to assist SMEs, including credit support in the form of government-backed business loans.

Please refer to our latest articles for more information about the current business loan schemes.

Looking for more business loan choices?

Most, if not all, SMEs in Singapore own at least one operating bank account with the 3 local banks. It is not surprising that business owners often apply for their first business loan with them.

Unfortunately, not all business loan applications are approved due to multiple reasons. While you can improve your chances of getting a business loan, this usually takes too much time.

In this case, foreign banks may be a good alternative source of financing. Although their eligibility criteria are not any less lenient compared to the local banks, they may be more eager to fund good companies from industries that may be less-favoured by the local banks (e.g. marine and offshore, construction, retail).

Let’s look at a comparison of the basic business loans (NOT the government-assisted schemes).  

Standard Chartered Maybank Citibank
Product Name SC Business Installment Loan Maybank Business Term Loan CitiBusiness Unsecured Business Loan
Max. Loan Amount S$70,000 - S$300,000 Up to S$500,000 S$250,000 - S$350,000
Loan Tenor 1 - 3 Years Up to 5 Years Up to 4 Years
Interest Rate Up to 11% (EIR) 7.0 - 12.88% (EIR) 6.25 - 13.0% (EIR)
Annual Fee
  • 1st Yr: 2% of loan amount (min. S$400)
  • Thereafter: S$100 / annum
N.A. N.A.
Lock-in Period 3 Years Not specified

(prepayment fee will apply throughout the loan tenor)
Not specified

(prepayment fee will apply throughout the loan tenor)
Early / Prepayment Fee (within lock-in period) 3.0% of principal amount prepaid 2.0% of principal amount prepaid 3.0% of principal amount prepaid
Full Redemption Fee
  • If <12 months = 5.0% of outstanding loan amount
  • if >12 months = 3.0% of outstanding loan amount
Prepayment fee will apply Prepayment fee will apply
Cancellation Fee Full redemption fee will apply 2.0% of loan amount Not specified
Processing Fee 2% of approved loan amount

(1% if eligible)
2% of approved loan amount 2% of approved loan amount
Min. Business Turnover S$500,000 - S$750,000

(must fulfil credit risk grading if under S$750k)
S$300,000 S$500,000 - S$750,000

(must fulfil credit risk grading if under S$750k)
Min. Years in Business 3 years

(5 years if construction)
2 years 3 years
Secured by Guarantors? Yes Yes Yes

*Information updated for 2020*

*Information updated for 2020*

Our opinions

Compared to the local banks, foreign banks are more open to negotiation. Although their stated minimum business turnover is higher, they may be happy to make exceptions for good businesses that pass their credit risk grading.

Note that for many foreign banks, one of their key justifications for a business loan is how likely you are to make your monthly repayment and pay back the loan.

What would improve your company’s credit risk grading?

From anecdotal accounts, the first key is having good cash flow. From the bank’s perspective, repayment of the loan is more certain for a business with good cash flow and healthy margins (i.e. more deposits than withdrawals).

Directors are often directly responsible for the success of their companies and thus, years of prior management experience (more than 3 years) in the same industry would also enhance a company’s credit risk grading.

Lastly, good financial records (directors’ NOAs & CBS, company’s profit and loss statement) will go a long way in convincing them that your company is bankable.

Additional tips for small business owners getting a business loan with foreign banks

a. Highlight your repayment capabilities to the bank.

  i.  Your source of repayment can be your income from a second business. It doesn’t have to be from the business you are applying the loan for.

  ii.  Cash-based businesses should start banking in their daily takings as soon as possible. This will register their company’s true cash flow, and thus their true repayment capability.

 iii.  High regular cash flow = greater loan repayment ability.

b. Are you a private wealth management client with a foreign bank?

  i.  Surprisingly, you can leverage other personal criteria that might help to address some of your business’ shortcomings.

  ii.  The company’s revenue doesn’t hit S$750,000? It will help if you are a private wealth client with that foreign bank.

  iii.  Your company has not been in operations for more than 3 years? It will help if you can prove that you were previously managing a company in the same industry and with a combined experience of more than 3 years.

c. Get a business loan from a marketplace like (forgive our shameless advertising again)

  i.  You get connected to multiple relationship managers at the same time who know they are competing with other banks.

  ii.  In order to win your business, relationship managers are more likely to either compete on price (e.g. offer cheaper interest rates) or improve their service level to win your business.

  iii.  It’s free. No gimmicks. Read why here.

Disclaimer: All the information is believed to be accurate; however, no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information are made. All information, commentary, recommendations or statements of opinion provided in this article are for general information purposes only. This article is based on information found exclusively on their respective websites. We believe our information is representative. However if there are any errors in our reporting, please contact for rectification. We do not claim to be authoritative.

Request for a Business Loan Now! operates a Business Loan Marketplace that allows an SME to connect to multiple lenders with just one application, allowing the SME to know who its prospective lenders are and the rates that they offer, in a very short time.

Leading digital loan marketplace Lendingpot connects SMEs to its network of 45 lenders comprising relationship managers from banks, financial institutions, and private and peer-to-peer lenders in Singapore. It aims to help SMEs overcome the information asymmetry problem and lack of transparency prevalent in the SME financing sector by offering SMEs financing options such as business term loans, property loans, revenue-based financing, credit lines, working capital loans, bridging loans, invoice financing, and more.

About the author

Eric Koh is passionate about helping SMEs grow and has spent years interacting with business owners at OCBC and IFS Capital. He is interested in 70s rock ‘n roll, the odd novel and copious amounts of historical trivia.

business loan
SME Loan
Standard Chartered

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