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Old 20-08-2018, 10:27 PM   #511
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TransferWise Borderless Personal Account

From time to time I get questions about whether it's possible to open a U.S. bank or U.S. credit union account when you're a non-U.S. resident. It's useful to have such an account for legitimate business or professional reasons, and to get paid in U.S. dollars. Unfortunately, it's difficult to open a U.S. bank or U.S. credit union account, especially a personal account and without a physical visit to the United States.

The TransferWise Borderless Account is a possible alternative solution, particularly their personal (non-business) account which offers some fairly low fees. The TransferWise Borderless Account allows you to receive U.S. dollars, Euro, British pounds, and Australian dollars. You are provided account number details in each of those four currency zones, and there's no charge to receive funds.

Now, I have not tested this part yet, please bear in mind. But it might be possible to receive U.S. dollars into your TransferWise Borderless Account (to your U.S. account details: ACH routing number/account number) and then to turn around and transfer those funds through the domestic U.S. banking system (ACH electronic funds transfer) to your U.S. brokerage account, such as your Interactive Brokers, Schwab, Firstrade, or TD Ameritrade account. And that all seems to be free of charge for personal (non-business entity) accounts. Also, since the TransferWise account is in your name, and since the brokerage account is in your name, that should be classified as a "first party" fund transfer, which brokers allow. Should be -- that's my hypothesis. Would anybody like to test it and report back?

TransferWise has decent conversion rates from U.S. dollars to Singapore dollars, and vice versa. They won't be as terrific as the currency conversion rates Interactive Brokers offers, but they're not too awful. SGD to USD is listed as 0.35%, and USD to SGD is listed as 0.60%. Other currency conversion rates are listed here.

It's free to open a TransferWise Borderless Account, and there's no minimum monthly fee.
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Old 21-08-2018, 12:58 PM   #512
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Hi guys, I have an off-topic question to ask.

Letís say I am trying to pay off a study loan of $24.7k in 3 yearsí time (this is the course duration). I have done some calculations and I have to save about S$620/monthly in order to reach the targeted amount after 3 years and hence able to pay off in one shot.

1) If I save this amount ($620/monthly) in my DBS Multiplier account earning 1.85% /p.a., I would have accumulated $670 worth of interest and also being able to pay off my debt in one shot.

So my main question is, are there any better or refined recommendations as to how to maximise savings + interest earned to pay off my study loan?

Last edited by Edwardtzy; 21-08-2018 at 02:07 PM..
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Old 21-08-2018, 01:19 PM   #513
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Hi guys, I have an off-topic question to ask.

Let’s say I am trying to pay off a study loan of $24.7k in 3 years’ time (this is the course duration). I have done some calculations and I have to save about S$620/monthly in order to reach the targeted amount after 3 years and hence able to pay off in one shot.

1) If I save this amount ($620/monthly) in my DBS Multiplier account earning 1.85% /p.a., I would have accumulated $760 worth of interest and also being able to pay off my debt in one shot.

So my main question is, are there any better or refined recommendations as to how to maximise savings + interest earned to pay off my study loan?
Your calculations may be a bit off.

Use a Time Value of Money calculator, input:

PV = 0
FV = 24700
IR = 1.85%
N = 36 months

Calculated PMT = -667.78
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Old 21-08-2018, 01:56 PM   #514
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Hi BBC,

I do have a US account with Bank of America and also a SSN. I am currently residing in Singapore as a SG citizen and no other tax residency. However, I am not sure how to take advantage of the US account? Is it just to have a place to receive US dollars?

I have seen the topic being mentioned a few times. However, I have not be able to get a picture of it. Appreciate your comments. Thank you.

From time to time I get questions about whether it's possible to open a U.S. bank or U.S. credit union account when you're a non-U.S. resident. It's useful to have such an account for legitimate business or professional reasons, and to get paid in U.S. dollars. Unfortunately, it's difficult to open a U.S. bank or U.S. credit union account, especially a personal account and without a physical visit to the United States.

The TransferWise Borderless Account is a possible alternative solution, particularly their personal (non-business) account which offers some fairly low fees. The TransferWise Borderless Account allows you to receive U.S. dollars, Euro, British pounds, and Australian dollars. You are provided account number details in each of those four currency zones, and there's no charge to receive funds.

Now, I have not tested this part yet, please bear in mind. But it might be possible to receive U.S. dollars into your TransferWise Borderless Account (to your U.S. account details: ACH routing number/account number) and then to turn around and transfer those funds through the domestic U.S. banking system (ACH electronic funds transfer) to your U.S. brokerage account, such as your Interactive Brokers, Schwab, Firstrade, or TD Ameritrade account. And that all seems to be free of charge for personal (non-business entity) accounts. Also, since the TransferWise account is in your name, and since the brokerage account is in your name, that should be classified as a "first party" fund transfer, which brokers allow. Should be -- that's my hypothesis. Would anybody like to test it and report back?

TransferWise has decent conversion rates from U.S. dollars to Singapore dollars, and vice versa. They won't be as terrific as the currency conversion rates Interactive Brokers offers, but they're not too awful. SGD to USD is listed as 0.35%, and USD to SGD is listed as 0.60%. Other currency conversion rates are listed here.

It's free to open a TransferWise Borderless Account, and there's no minimum monthly fee.
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Old 21-08-2018, 02:07 PM   #515
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Your calculations may be a bit off.

Use a Time Value of Money calculator, input:

PV = 0
FV = 24700
IR = 1.85%
N = 36 months

Calculated PMT = -667.78

Ops yes, I forgot to key the updated amount. Thanks!
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Old 21-08-2018, 02:14 PM   #516
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I honestly think 1.85% is pretty good for 3 years. Also, if there is any interest-free period after your course, you should utilize that as well, i.e postpone the repayment until the end of the interest-free period. Another thing to consider is that if the interest for the loan is lower than 1.85%, then it is cheap money and you might want to delay repayment as much as it makes sense.

Hi guys, I have an off-topic question to ask.

Letís say I am trying to pay off a study loan of $24.7k in 3 yearsí time (this is the course duration). I have done some calculations and I have to save about S$620/monthly in order to reach the targeted amount after 3 years and hence able to pay off in one shot.

1) If I save this amount ($620/monthly) in my DBS Multiplier account earning 1.85% /p.a., I would have accumulated $760 worth of interest and also being able to pay off my debt in one shot.

So my main question is, are there any better or refined recommendations as to how to maximise savings + interest earned to pay off my study loan?
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Old 21-08-2018, 02:48 PM   #517
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The TransferWise Borderless Account is a possible alternative solution, particularly their personal (non-business) account which offers some fairly low fees. The TransferWise Borderless Account allows you to receive U.S. dollars, Euro, British pounds, and Australian dollars. You are provided account number details in each of those four currency zones, and there's no charge to receive funds.

TransferWise has decent conversion rates from U.S. dollars to Singapore dollars, and vice versa. They won't be as terrific as the currency conversion rates Interactive Brokers offers, but they're not too awful. SGD to USD is listed as 0.35%, and USD to SGD is listed as 0.60%. Other currency conversion rates are listed here.

Interesting, thanks for this. Is this a good legitimate way to transfer personal US$ funds from a bank account in the US to a US$ bank account in Singapore? From the look of it, Transferwise will charge US$3.30 + a SWIFT fee of US$2. That is superb given that most US banks charge US$25-35 just to do the international wire transfer. Of course it remains to be seen whether the Singapore bank will charge an incoming wire transfer fee - I suppose they will. But they would in either case, so the difference I am looking at is US$5.30 versus US$35.
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Old 21-08-2018, 02:49 PM   #518
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I do have a US account with Bank of America and also a SSN. I am currently residing in Singapore as a SG citizen and no other tax residency. However, I am not sure how to take advantage of the US account? Is it just to have a place to receive US dollars?
That's typically why you'd have a U.S. bank account (or U.S. credit union account), to receive U.S. dollar payments, such as a (legal) salary, commission, royalty, rental payment, etc.

Another possible reason is to pay bills in the U.S., such as rental payments, especially to billers that don't accept credit card payments. Most U.S. bank and U.S. credit union accounts include a "Bill Pay" online service, which is often free. That'll either electronically or via paper check/postage send U.S. dollar payments domestically. You can even use Bill Pay to send a payment to yourself, such as to make a U.S. dollar deposit to your U.S. brokerage account.

There's also greater safety in U.S. accounts for U.S. dollars, because they are FDIC (or NCUA) insured up to US$250,000, with higher limits possible with modest effort. There is absolutely zero deposit insurance for any non-Singapore dollar funds held at banks in Singapore. A deposit at a state chartered savings bank in Massachusetts (not Bank of America) has that U.S. federal government deposit insurance plus unlimited state deposit insurance, too.

Bank of America isn't a great bank in terms of its products' value, for the record.
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Old 21-08-2018, 03:34 PM   #519
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I honestly think 1.85% is pretty good for 3 years. Also, if there is any interest-free period after your course, you should utilize that as well, i.e postpone the repayment until the end of the interest-free period. Another thing to consider is that if the interest for the loan is lower than 1.85%, then it is cheap money and you might want to delay repayment as much as it makes sense.
Hi there, the interest starts charging at 5% and 3 months after graduating from the course. So I presume parking the money in my multiplier for the 3 years is the best course of action? Thanks a lot!
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Old 21-08-2018, 03:38 PM   #520
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Is this a good legitimate way to transfer personal US$ funds from a bank account in the US to a US$ bank account in Singapore?
Why would you ever want to do that? The safety decreases (no deposit insurance), and the costs go up (bank fees, etc.) What am I missing?

Of course it remains to be seen whether the Singapore bank will charge an incoming wire transfer fee - I suppose they will.
Some banks in Singapore do not.
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Old 21-08-2018, 03:40 PM   #521
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So I presume parking the money in my multiplier for the 3 years is the best course of action?
You're describing something different now. Are you going to take the loan, park all the funds somewhere for 3 years, then repay the loan? Or are you going to take the loan, use it, and try to save $X/month? Those are two very different scenarios.
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Old 21-08-2018, 03:58 PM   #522
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You're describing something different now. Are you going to take the loan, park all the funds somewhere for 3 years, then repay the loan? Or are you going to take the loan, use it, and try to save $X/month? Those are two very different scenarios.
Hi, I'm referring to the former.
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Old 21-08-2018, 05:23 PM   #523
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Hi, I'm referring to the former.
OK, in that case the Singapore Savings Bond beats DBS rather solidly since it's a sure bet. When you buy the SSB, the interest is guaranteed. You might have a slight difficulty placing the full amount into the SSB in one go due to oversubscription, but it shouldn't take any longer than two months.

For a non-guaranteed rate (direct competitor to DBS Multiplier), Citibank's MaxiGain account would be expected to do better. Currently the interest rate starts at 1.31%, but then (at equal SIBOR rates) it'd rise to 2.41% by the 12th month. So that should beat 1.85%...unless Citibank changes the rules, which is the same problem with DBS.

If your timing is simply lucky, an insurance company might offer a 3 year endowment plan. Great Eastern had one, briefly, that was 2.2%/year for 3 years ("GREAT 220"). Keep an eye out for that.

....Anybody have any better ideas?
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Old 21-08-2018, 06:12 PM   #524
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Hi BBC,

Thank you very much for the detailed reply!


That's typically why you'd have a U.S. bank account (or U.S. credit union account), to receive U.S. dollar payments, such as a (legal) salary, commission, royalty, rental payment, etc.

Another possible reason is to pay bills in the U.S., such as rental payments, especially to billers that don't accept credit card payments. Most U.S. bank and U.S. credit union accounts include a "Bill Pay" online service, which is often free. That'll either electronically or via paper check/postage send U.S. dollar payments domestically. You can even use Bill Pay to send a payment to yourself, such as to make a U.S. dollar deposit to your U.S. brokerage account.

There's also greater safety in U.S. accounts for U.S. dollars, because they are FDIC (or NCUA) insured up to US$250,000, with higher limits possible with modest effort. There is absolutely zero deposit insurance for any non-Singapore dollar funds held at banks in Singapore. A deposit at a state chartered savings bank in Massachusetts (not Bank of America) has that U.S. federal government deposit insurance plus unlimited state deposit insurance, too.

Bank of America isn't a great bank in terms of its products' value, for the record.
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Old 22-08-2018, 08:23 AM   #525
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Is this a good legitimate way to transfer personal US$ funds from a bank account in the US to a US$ bank account in Singapore?
Why would you ever want to do that? The safety decreases (no deposit insurance), and the costs go up (bank fees, etc.) What am I missing?
For one, I don't factor the insurance into my calculations. It would take a cataclysmic event for a bank to fail in Singapore, and there would be enough signs along the way seeing which I would move the money in a jiffy. On the other hand, I am less confident about US banks, except for the ones 'too big to fail', where the interest rates are not very attractive.

I agree that there is a cost involved in bringing the money over to Singapore. I do not have a Citibank account in Singapore. Which is why I am wondering if the Transferwise borderless account is a fairly low-cost way to do it. Sending the US$ back to the US is free.

The advantage as I see it is having the money here, with me in Singapore where I now live, still available to use as US$ if I need to, outside the remit of IRS and your own 'asset seizure' possibilities (remote, but nonetheless). Until now I hadn't thought of doing so but the interest rates on forex deposits here are decent enough.
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