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Top money-saving tips

From loyalty cards to free cultural attractions, rewards cards to transaction-free banking, you can find little ways to make big savings while you’re living in the world’s most expensive city.

Banking

Expats with proof of identity including a passport and employment pass, and a minimum deposit at the ready, can open a bank account very easily in Singapore. In fact, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to banks in the city, so look for banks that have an expatriate banking package such as Citibank, DBS and HSBC which allow you to make transactions between Singapore dollars and multiple currencies under the same account. Availability of ATMs is restricted in the city, with most foreign banks in Singapore only having a small number of free-of-charge ATMs. It’s worth checking which banks have branches and ATMs close to your home and place of work. Be sure to study each bank’s list offer and charges, including international transfers, standing orders, general account fees, getting a second chequebook and more. ATMs charge high transaction fees for international cards, so opening a bank account in Singapore will help you save on cash withdrawals.

Taxes

Singapore has double taxation avoidance treaties with some countries, including the UK, the U.S., and Australia. It’s a good idea to check whether your home country has an agreement in place, so you don’t have to pay tax in your home country if you pay tax in Singapore.

Save on travel

You can ride the MRT for free before 7.45am at 18 designated stations until June 2017. If you travel between 7.45am and 8am, a discount of up to $0.50 applies. For a monthly fee of $80 ($40 for children or people with disabilities) you can enjoy unlimited off-peak travel between 9am and 7.30pm on weekdays, or all day on weekends and public holidays, and there are concessions available on tickets for students and senior citizens. And because fares are calculated by total distance travelled, you can save up to $4 per trip on boarding costs if you arrange your transfers. But be sure to follow the time limits that apply. Better yet, invest in a bicycle and enjoy cycling around the city for free — and it’s good exercise too. For travels further afield, Singapore Airlines offers air miles, awarded for every flight you take and a big way to make savings if you need to return home for visits with family or are an entrepreneur making frequent business trips to and from the area. Air miles can be redeemed against tickets to destinations all over the globe so that you can save money on your annual holiday, too. Singapore’s budget airlines include Cebu Pacific, Jetstar Asia, Lion Air, and  Tigerair.

Save on food

Sign up to Free Famous Food and you’ll get a voucher every day for free food in the city. This money-saving site is becoming incredibly popular. TapforMore allows you to offset grocery costs and earn points every time you tap their card at a participating store — earning a point for every dollar spent. Plus, members can save on their shopping, online or in store. Dash members can top up and pay for bus rides on their phone and find deals to help earn cashback on a wide range of products and services, from fast food and shopping to taxi fares. With over 20,000 participating outlets and retailers in Singapore, it’s a great way to make savings. Use the self-checkout at Sheng Siong and Cold Storage, and you’ll save 3% on your shopping bill. A meal out doesn’t have to cost the earth if you’re prepared to soak up some local culture and grab a meal for a few dollars at one of the many hawker centres around the city. Lau Pa Sat is in the heart of Singapore’s financial district with stalls serving bargain local delicacies, 24 hours a day.

Bargaining tips

Haggling over goods isn’t as commonplace in Singapore as it is in other countries around Asia, but asking ‘best price?’ can result in a discount, especially if you’re buying more than one item from a market. And if you’re shopping in Little India, you should try to haggle on saris and bangles, or ask for bulk discounts on souvenirs and fabric on the stalls at Arab Street and in Chinatown. 

Places to try some gentle bargaining:

  • Arab Street
  • Tekka Market
  • Sim Lim Square
  • Lucky Plaza
  • Little India
  • Antique shops at Tanglin Shopping Centre Flea market

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