A quick guide to Singapore T-bills

Singapore Treasury bills (T-bills) are gaining traction as an attractive place to park your cash for the short-term.

Here’s what to know in 2 minutes.

What are T-bills?

T-bills are a type of short-term bonds issued and backed by the Singapore government. They have a “AAA” credit rating (the highest rating available) which makes them a very safe investment.

There are two types available: 6-month T-bills and 1-Year T-bills. 

Unlike Singapore Savings Bonds (SSB), T-bills don’t pay coupons or interest payments. Instead, you buy them at a discount to the face value. 

29 Sep T-bill auction result

For example, the cut-off yield for the previous 6-month T-bill in September was 3.32% p.a. If you had invested $10,000, you would have paid $9,834.50 upfront and gotten a refund of $165.50 back to your bank account.

This $165.50 is your interest earned on the T-bill (half of the 3.32% p.a. yield). After six months, you will then get back the full value of your investment ($10,000). 

Key dates to note

The upcoming 6-month and 1-Year T-bills will be auctioned on Thursday, 13 October 2022. Note that applications to buy T-bills may close 1 to 2 business days before the auction.

This tranche of T-bills will be issued on Tuesday, 18 October 2022.

What are the October T-bill interest rates?

T-bill interest rates are not announced beforehand, unlike SSBs. Instead, they’ll be determined on the auction date.

But you can roughly predict what the yield is going to be based on the estimated yield of 3.31%.

How to buy T-bills in Singapore

Step 1: You can buy T-bills through DBS/POSB, OCBC and UOB ATMs and internet banking. Choose either the 6-month of 1-year T-bill.

How to buy T-bills
Screenshot from OCBC

Step 2: Select the non-competitive bid. That’s good enough for average investors.

  • In a non-competitive bid, you specify how much you want to invest and you’ll receive the cut-off yield that’s determined during the auction. The cut-off yield is the highest accepted yield of successful competitive bids submitted at the auction, so you don’t actually lose out to people who submit a competitive bid. You also have a higher chance of securing your allotment compared to those who put in a competitive bid.
  • A competitive bid is usually used by institutional investors. You specify the yield you want. But depending on the auction results, you might not be allotted any bonds. E.g. if you bid 3.62% but the cut-off yield is 3.32%, you might not get your full allotment. 

Step 3: Determine your investment amount. The minimum investment is S$1,000. 

Take note that you’re very likely to get the full amount you bid for, so there’s no need to bid “extra” as in the case with Singapore Savings Bonds. 

Step 4: Check your results. The auction results will be revealed about one hour after the auction ends. You can see your issued T-bills (if any) in your CDP statement three business days after i.e. 18 October.

T-bills vs SSB

T-bills or Singapore Savings Bonds
Image: TFF

In a nutshell:

  • Choose T-bills if you don’t need to touch your cash for six months to one year, and you have a lot of excess cash sitting around. There’s no maximum amount that you can place in T-bills but you can only hold a maximum of $200,000 in SSB.
  • Choose SSB if liquidity is more important to you i.e. you might need to withdraw your money sooner than expected. It’s also a good choice if you think interest rates may fall again and you want to lock in the current attractive rates for 10 years.

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