Fixed Deposits

The Best Fixed Deposit Accounts in Singapore

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Clara Lim

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Fixed deposit or time deposit accounts are basically investments that earn you interest over a fixed tenure. You don’t need to do anything to earn this interest, just park your money with a bank. Think of it like mold on a piece of bread. Just leave it out in the open and mold will grow – FREE! – on your bread for you.

Seriously, though, fixed deposits are great if you have a substantial amount of money lying around and you don’t want to risk investing them. Fixed deposits are a much less risky way to grow your money, albeit at a much lower rate.

Here’s a quick and dirty summary of what you need to know about fixed deposits.

 

Fixed deposit vs savings account in Singapore

Fixed deposit (also known as FD or time deposit) are a type of bank account where you deposit a sum of money and leave it alone for a time in exchange for interest. Here are the differences between fixed deposits and savings accounts at a glance:

Fixed deposit Savings account
Tenure As low as 1 month, but go for at least 12 months for better rates None
Interest rate The longer the tenure, the better the interest rate Usually the same regardless of tenure
Amount to deposit Fixed amount, usually at least $10,000 Smaller initial deposit and minimum monthly balance ($500 to $3,000)
Currency SGD by default, but some banks offer higher interest rates for foreign currency SGD by default. There are a few multi-currency accounts, but no difference in interest rate
Can you withdraw? Contrary to popular belief, yes, but you lose the interest Yes, no impact on interest, but don’t fall below the minimum balance
Interest payments Quarterly or annually Monthly
Risk level Virtually risk-free, insured up to $50,000 by Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation (SDIC)

Once an attractive alternative to that pathetic 0.05% p.a. interest on savings accounts, fixed deposits – like so many ageing Channel 8 starlets – are fading from collective memory. Today, every bank in Singapore is competing for your dollar with high interest savings accounts, so it’s actually possible to earn 2% or 3% p.a. on your savings. What a time to be alive!

Does that mean the era of fixed deposits is over? Well, don’t write them off just yet – let’s see if the promotional interest rates are any good.

 

Highest fixed deposit interest rates in Singapore 2018

Most banks have standard fixed deposit interest rates but as a rule of thumb, it is not worth it to open a fixed deposit unless there’s a good promotion going on. So I looked at promotional rates for SGD time deposits on the market.

Disclaimer 1: I’ve ignored the crazy-high deposit amounts that banks use to inflate their interest rates because I know how disappointing it is to click on an advert for “1.8% p.a. fixed deposit” only to realise it’s for $1m deposits and up.

Disclaimer 2: Also, some banks have higher interest rates for foreign currencies (RMB, USD usually) but most regular Singaporeans don’t have huge sums of those lying around, so I’ll focus on the SGD ones here.

Disclaimer 3: Note that many of these expire on 31 May and are refreshed monthly. Although the others do not have an expiry date, the bank can change the rates anytime.

Bank/financial institution Min. deposit amount Tenure Promotional interest rate
Hong Leong Bank $100,000 24 months 1.7% p.a. (expires 31 May)
State Bank of India $50,000 12 months 1.55% p.a. (expires 31 May)
Sing Investments & Finance $20,000 24 months 1.5% p.a.
ICBC $20,000 12 months 1.47% p.a.
OCBC $20,000 24 months 1.45% p.a.
CIMB $20,000 12 months 1.4% p.a. (expires 15 May)
State Bank of India $50,000 6 months 1.35% p.a. (expires 31 May)
CIMB $20,000 6 months 1.35% p.a. (expires 15 May)
UOB $20,000 10 months 1.35% p.a. (expires 31 May)
HSBC (Advance) $30,000 12 months 1.35% p.a. (expires 31 May)
Maybank $50,001 12 months 1.3% p.a.
Bank of China $50,000 6 months 1.25% p.a. (expires 10 Jul)
HSBC (Advance) $30,000 6 months 1.25% p.a. (expires 31 May)
Standard Chartered $25,000 12 months 1.25% p.a. (expires 31 May)
OCBC $20,000 12 months 1.25% p.a.
Standard Chartered $25,000 7 months 1.15% p.a. (expires 31 May)

It’s a tad overwhelming, so I’ll split this into 3 tiers based on the deposit amount in the following sections.

 

Best fixed deposit interest rates for $20,000 deposit

Bank/financial institution Min. deposit amount Tenure Promotional interest rate
Sing Investments & Finance $20,000 24 months 1.5% p.a.
ICBC $20,000 12 months 1.47% p.a.
OCBC $20,000 24 months 1.45% p.a.
CIMB $20,000 12 months 1.4% p.a. (expires 15 May)
CIMB $20,000 6 months 1.35% p.a. (expires 15 May)
OCBC $20,000 10 months 1.35% p.a. (expires 31 May)

Given the promotions across the board, you’ll need at least $20,000 lying around in order to benefit from decent promotional interest rates. If you don’t have enough, just stick to a good savings account. Don’t blur blur go and open a DBS fixed deposit account because they really don’t have the best rates!

The highest rates that your $20,000 can get you are with Sing Investments & Finance (1.5% p.a.) and Chinese bank ICBC (1.47% p.a.). But they are not so well-known in Singapore so you might not be comfortable banking with them.

Instead, you might opt for OCBC (1.45% p.a.) if you don’t mind the 2-year lock-in period, or Malaysian bank CIMB (1.4% p.a.), which is an extremely good rate for a 1-year lock-in period.

 

Best fixed deposit interest rates for $50,000 deposit and up

Bank/financial institution Min. deposit amount Tenure Promotional interest rate
Hong Leong Bank $100,000 24 months 1.7% p.a. (expires 31 May)
State Bank of India $50,000 12 months 1.55% p.a. (expires 31 May)
State Bank of India $50,000 6 months 1.35% p.a. (expires 31 May)
Maybank $50,001 12 months 1.3% p.a.
Bank of China $50,000 6 months 1.25% p.a. (expires 10 Jul)

If you’re ballin’ with $100,000 to deposit, you can get the highest yield with Hong Leong Bank (1.7% p.a.). However, mind the 2-year-long tenure and the fact that SDIC insures your deposits only up to $50,000. There’s still a very low risk of losing your principal though.

The runner-up is State Bank of India, a rather unestablished player in Singapore that’s understandably trying to attract us with a high interest rate (1.55% p.a.). It’s significantly better than Maybank’s rate (1.3% p.a.) for the same tenure.

Of course, banks are notoriously fickle about their interest rates, so remember to compare and find the best interest rates for fixed deposit accounts before you commit.

 

How does this compare to Singapore Savings Bonds?

In an earlier article, we compared the Singapore Savings Bonds to fixed deposits. If you don’t include the promotional interest rates, the expected interest rates for the Singapore Savings Bonds are far better than any of the current interest rates offered by banks. Compared to fixed deposits, Singapore Savings Bonds also have higher liquidity. You will not be penalised if you withdraw from the Singapore Savings Bonds.

Of course, unlike the Singapore Savings Bonds, you are able to open a fixed deposit account at any time. Also, there is a cap of $100,000 you can put into Singapore Savings Bonds. There is generally no cap for fixed deposits.

 

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What Every Singaporean Needs to Know About Fixed Deposit Accounts

Singapore Savings Bonds: Is It Better Than When It First Launched in 2015?

Your Savings Account Sucks, Here Are Some That Don’t – 2018 Edition

Would you consider parking your money in a fixed deposit account? Why or why not?

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Clara Lim

I used to be MoneyDumb. I hung out at H&M every day and thought that a $50 lunch set was a good deal. These days, I spend my time researching the crap out of life and trying to maximise utility on micro-decisions. I'm not sure if that's an improvement.