Best fixed deposits to lock in your savings in Singapore (2020)

PHOTO: Pixabay

We give you the lowdown on how fixed deposits work, and round up the best fixed deposit offers in the market right now.

Imagine if you could stash away all the money you received as gifts throughout the year, forget about it for a while, and find it again with some extra cash on the side. Fixed deposits are somewhat like that, acting as a safe, secure, low-risk investment that can help you generate interest over a fixed commitment period.

All fixed deposits require you to put a predetermined sum of money away for a set amount of time without withdrawing it. The longer your money is in the bank, the higher the interest rate you receive. It’s an easy and surefire way to grow your money.

Additionally, fixed deposit accounts work the same as any other interest-bearing bank deposit account. This makes them a lot easier to understand compared to other investment options. However, they have a specified maturity date and the funds cannot be withdrawn during the term of maturity.

Generally, the longer the tenure (at least 12 months) and the higher the fixed deposit amount, the higher the interest rate you will earn. Interest payments are generally paid out at quarterly or annual intervals.

Here are the best fixed deposits for amounts below or equal to $10,000, amounts above $10,000, and amounts in USD.

Best fixed deposit promotions in Singapore for ≤$10,000

Bank Tenor Promotional Interest Rate (p.a.) Min. Deposit Promo Expiry
DBS/POSB 18 months 12 months 11 or 10 months 9 months 8 months 7 months 6 months 1.30 per cent 1.15 per cent 1.1 per cent 0.95 per cent 0.6 per cent 0.4 per cent 0.2 per cent $1,000
CIMB 3 months to 24 months 0.3 per cent $5,000
ICBC (via e-Banking) 12 months 9 months 6 months 3 months or 1 month 0.7 per cent 0.65 per cent 0.3 per cent 0.25 per cent $500 (fresh funds)

Winner: DBS

With the current economic slowdown, DBS is the leader of the pack when it comes to accessible fixed deposits – an initial deposit of just $1,000 in fresh funds can reap you up to 1.30 per cent p.a. in interest over a 18-month tenure.

Best fixed deposit promotions in Singapore for >$10,000

Bank Tenor Promotional Interest Rate (p.a.) Min. Deposit Promo Expiry
DBS/POSB 18 months 12 months 11 or 10 months 9 months 8 months 7 months 1.30 per cent 1.15 per cent 1.1 per cent 0.95 per cent 0.6 per cent 0.4 per cent $1,000 (Interest rates decrease for amounts more than $20,000)
Maybank 36 months 24 months 18 months 12 or 9 months 6 months 3 months 1 per cent 0.60 per cent 0.5 per cent 0.45 per cent 0.35 per cent 0.30 per cent $1,000
Hong Leong Finance 12 months 18 months 24 months 0.55 per cent 0.58 per cent 0.6 per cent $20,000
UOB 10 months 0.5 per cent $20,000 (fresh funds) Dec 31, 2020
OCBC 12 months 0.45 per cent $20,000 (fresh funds)
Standard Chartered 3 months 0.45 per cent 0.55 per cent (Priority banking preferential rate) $25,000 (fresh funds) Dec 31, 2020 (must be one of the first 5,000)

Winner: DBS

For sums amounting to more than $10,000, DBS appears to lead the pack again. It offers the same interest rates as deposits below $10,000, up to a maximum of $19,999. Beyond that sum, interest rates drop and it might be worth considering the other banks in this list instead.

Best foreign currency (USD) fixed deposit rates in Singapore

Bank Tenor Promotional Interest Rate (p.a.) Currency Min. Deposit Promo Expiry
UOB 6 months 0.40 per cent USD $20,000 (fresh funds) Dec 31, 2020
ICBC 12 months (via e-Banking) 0.75 per cent (for fresh funds) 0.70 per cent (for non-fresh funds) 0.60 per cent (for non-fresh funds) USD $500 (fresh funds)$100,000 and above (for non-fresh funds)$500 (for non-fresh funds)
OCBC 6 months 3 months 0.20 per cent 0.10 per cent USD $5,000

Winner: ICBC

Have a spare US$500 (S$670) lying around? Why not park it in an ICBC fixed deposit account for 12 months and let it earn 0.75 per cent p.a.? Rates for non-fresh-funds above U$100,000 aren’t shabby either, drawing an interest rate of 0.70 per cent p.a. for the same period of time.

Frequently asked questions

What are the requirements to open a fixed deposit account?

If you are an existing account holder, you will have to log in to the bank’s internet banking platform to open a fixed deposit. If you do not have an existing account with the bank, you might be required to open an account. This would require the following:

  • Front and back of your NRIC (for Singaporeans / PRs)
  • Passport and Employment Pass (for foreigners)
  • Proof of residential address

How do I apply for a fixed deposit account?

You can apply for a fixed deposit with any bank in Singapore. These are the banks that offer fixed deposits:

Upon application, you will have to transfer your funds into the fixed deposit account to start earning interest on your money.

Can I top up a fixed deposit account?

Unlike a savings account, you may not top up your fixed deposit account. When you open a fixed deposit account, the sum of money you put into the account stays there until the term of maturity.

If you want to put more money into a fixed deposits, what you can do instead is to open another fixed deposit account. Keep in mind that the interest rates for the new fixed deposit account could differ based on the bank’s current promotion.

Can I withdraw my fixed deposit before the tenure is up? 

You can withdraw your fixed deposit before the tenure is up but you may incur an early withdrawal fee and/or lose the interest income that you have earned.

Banks in Singapore do not charge any fees when the withdrawal is made within 30 days after opening the account, but other terms and conditions may apply depending on the bank policies.

ALSO READ: Understanding interest rates: How you can use it to save even more money

Are fixed deposits taxable in Singapore?

No, the interest received from deposits with approved banks or licensed finance companies in Singapore is not taxable.

Can foreigners open fixed deposits in Singapore?

Yes. If you are a foreigner, you will need your passport, proof of address, and an Employment Pass/Dependent Pass/S Pass/Student Pass or Long-Term Visit Pass, whichever is applicable.

Can I open a fixed deposit using foreign currency other than USD?

Yes. Most banks actually offer higher interest rates for common foreign currencies like the Australian dollar, Euro, and British pound sterling.

Check the fine print for issues relating to conversion fees or auto-renewal clauses. Remember to shop around for the best promotional rate before committing as well.

Why should I open a fixed deposit account?

Fixed deposit interest rates are generally low unless a bank decides to offer a promotional rate. Here are some situations when opening a fixed deposit account could be an attractive option for you. 

  • You’re sitting on a considerable amount of cash which is earning next to nothing (0.05 per cent p.a.) in an ordinary savings account.
  • You want a virtually risk-free investment option. Even if something happens to the bank, your deposits and interest earned are still protected (up to $75,000 thanks to the SDIC). 
  • You want regular cash flow. Interest payments are paid out regularly at quarterly or annual intervals. 
  • You need liquidity in your investments. A partial or full withdrawal of fixed deposits can be done at any time so your cash is always liquid. However, you might lose out on any interest to be paid if the money is withdrawn before the fixed deposit reaches full maturity. 

When’s the best time to open a fixed deposit? 

Unless you’re sitting on a mountain of cash, wait for a promotion from the bank before committing. Remember, once your money is in, your money is “stuck” until the fixed deposit matures (unless you don’t mind receiving partial or zero interest upon withdrawal).

As with all financial decisions, consider the opportunity costs. In the case of fixed deposits, consider that the money could have been invested in higher yield products, or spent on some other form of appreciating asset.

Read Also
9 almost-effortless ways to save more money
9 almost-effortless ways to save more money

Banks are frequently offering promotional rates which can change monthly, so cross shop for best promotion. In general, promotional interest rates range from 1 per cent to 2 per cent.

If banks advertise a higher than usual interest rate like 2.5 per cent or more, read the fine print. This usually applies to fixed deposit sums of $50,000 or more and usually in the form of “fresh funds” (meaning that you cannot transfer funds from a savings or current account within the same bank).

The interest rates offered also depends on the current interest rate environment. In today’s low interest rate environment, you can expect fixed deposits to have lower interest rates, similar to how savings accounts have also been lowering the interest you can earn in the account.

Fixed deposit vs Singapore Savings Bond (SSB): Which is better?

Other than fixed deposits, another popular low-risk investment product in Singapore is Singapore Savings Bonds (SSB). The current low interest rates have made both savings types less attractive, with insurance savings plans growing in popularity by offering higher rate of returns.

Fixed Deposit Singapore Savings Bond (SSB)
Interest rate (Updated October 2020) 0.2 per cent – 1.3 per cent p.a This interest rate stays the same throughout the entire tenure. 0.23 per cent – 1.79 per cent p.a. (Average return of of 0.91 per cent p.a. over 10 years)This interest rate tends to increase the longer you hold your SSB.
Minimum amount $1,000 $500
Maximum amount No limit $200,000
Tenure 1 month to 5 years 1 to 10 years

There are lots of similarities between the two. They both involve pledging a fixed amount of cash for a fixed amount of time to earn a reliable coupon rate. Both are also considered very low-risk investment products.

However, the maximum value you can invest in SSB is $200,000, whereas for fixed deposits, you can invest as much as you want. In fact, if you’re planning to place a huge amount in fixed deposits with the bank, you’ll most likely be able to negotiate for a higher-than-advertised coupon rate.

Read Also
Fixed deposit vs Singapore Savings Bond (SSB) vs Savings Account: Where to put your money?
Fixed deposit vs Singapore Savings Bond (SSB) vs Savings Account: Where to put your money?

Fixed deposits also usually allow you to withdraw funds immediately (although you may incur certain penalties). SSB withdrawals can take up to 30 days but are penalty-free.

SSB also tends to have a higher interest rates when you hold your bonds for a longer period of time. However, the first few years generate low interest rates. To get a better idea of the interest rates you will receive for your SSB, you should refer to the average rate per annum.

Besides fixed deposits and SSBs, you can also consider high yield savings accounts to keep your cash liquid. These savings accounts can earn an interest rate of approximately 2per cent p.a. However, many of these accounts require you to jump through hoops to earn the higher interest rates.

You can also read this article on fixed deposit vs Singapore Savings Bond (SSB) vs savings accounts.

What are the pros and cons of fixed deposits?

Pros Cons
Gives guaranteed returns as long as you keep your funds in the account Relatively low interest rate when compared to other savings options such as a high yield savings account or investment vehicles
Does not require you to jump through hoops to earn the interest Money has to stay in the account for the entire tenure. If you withdraw the money, you risk losing out on any interest earned and might even have to pay a penalty
Currently offers higher interest rates than other low-risk options such as Singapore Savings Bond You cannot make top ups to a fixed deposit account, you can only open a new fixed deposit account for your new funds

How does the bank calculate the interest return on a fixed deposit?

The interest rate offered by the bank depends on two factors: 1) The amount of money you are putting into the fixed deposit 2) The tenure of your fixed deposit

If you choose to withdraw your funds before the full tenure is up, the interest you receive could be less than the interest rate offered, or none at all. Rest assured that you will still receive your full principal amount.

The calculation of interest returns differs from bank to bank. For example, DBS calculates this based on the completed quarters of a calendar year. Do check the interest returns before you withdraw your funds.

This article was first published in SingSaver.com.sg.