Frequently Asked Questions About CPF

Note: This post has been updated on 13 May 2024.

CPF Interest Rates

1. For the extra 1% interest, how do they divide the interest on $40,000 between SA and RA?

CPF allocates based on the precedence of RA-OA-SA-MA. If you are currently 55 years old and above, and you have RA, that takes precedence. If you under 55 years old, it will go to OA (cap at 20k) then SA, then MA. 

2. If SA has met FRS does any additional 1% interest from OA and MA go to OA?

If SA has met FRS, there won’t be extra 1% from MA because the 1st $60k for extra 1% would have already met by OA (cap at $20k) and SA. 

3. Can we channel our monies in our OA to RA after 55 to get higher interest?

From 2025 onwards, SA would be closed after 55 years old. You can channel your monies in your OA to RA up to prevailing ERS for higher interest and higher payouts after 65. 

4. After 55, the money still left in SA and OA, what would the interest rate be like? Do we still have OA and SA accounts? Or is it collapsed into a single RA account?

From 2025 onwards, SA would be closed after 55 years old. Only OA exists with a legislated floor rate of 2.5%. 

CPF Housing Scheme

5. If I use OA to pay for a housing loan, is the accrual interest that I have to pay back based on 3.5% or 2.5%?

It will be based on 2.5%

6. Should I use my spare cash now to pare down my housing loan so I can accumulate my CPF. I’m currently paying off my loan using my OA? What are the advantages of paying back the loans early?

By paying off your loans early, you are using excess cash to hasten the payoff. The advantage is that if your cash is earning a very low return, paying off early saves you the interest on a mortgage that you would have to pay. So mathematically, paying back loans early is better.

However, if you are an investor and the cash can be put into investments earning greater than the mortgage interest on your loans, then mathematically, it may be better not to pay off earlier.

Another advantage of paying off a loan early is to have a peace of mind that you do not have a future cash flow constraint should you lose your job. That peace of mind can be priceless for many people.

7. Is it better to use OA to pay down the mortgage to save interest or to top up SA?

Currently, if you pay down mortgage you save on 2.6% in mortgage interest (HDB Concessionary Loan Rate) and if you choose to top up SA you earn 4% interest or more. What you gain from SA would be more than what you save from pay down mortgage. However, the top up to SA is irreversible and can no longer be used to pay mortgage. You will need to have other sources of money to service the mortgage loan. 

8. When you sell your property, what happens to the OA funds that were used? Does it go back into CPF and able to earn the interest?

When you sell your property, the funds in your CPF that goes into servicing the mortgage, together with the accrued interest that could have been earned had they not been used, will go into your CPF to earn OA interest which is currently 2.5% p.a.

CPF Retirement Sum

9. If I have $250,000 in my SA, when I reach 55, will the Full Retirement Sum (FRS) of $205,800 be transferred to RA or I can decide to transfer 250,000 instead. In other words, is it only the basic, full, or enhance sum be selected or it can be any sum above basic?

By default, only the FRS amount (currently $205.8k in 2024) will be pulled from your SA to fulfil the RA Full Retirement Sum. You can transfer the additional amount into your RA when you reach 55 if you have not hit the prevailing Enhance Retirement Sum (ERS) limit.

10. Can you just clarify the $205.8k SA cap on contributions – presumably there is a tax on that as it’s above the $8k/$16k SGD tax-free portion?

Under the Retirement Sum Top Up Scheme (RSTU), CPF members can top up their CPF SA (before age 55) and CPF RA (after age 55) and enjoy tax deduction up to $8,000 for your own top-up and $8,000 if you top up your parent’s or spouse retirement sum. Thus, a CPF member can enjoy up to a maximum of $16,000 in tax deduction under this RSTU scheme.

This reduces your taxable income.

11. Can I choose Basic Retirement Sum even if I have more than 205.8k in the SA?

If you have decided to pledge your property to CPF, you can choose to withdraw the monies above the BRS from your CPF RA.

12. Every year the Enhanced Retirement Sum increases. If I have already met the Enhanced Retirement Sum at age 55, is there any benefit to top up the enhanced RA sum subsequently?

You can top up your RA to the new ERS when it increases every year as the top-up limit does not take into consideration interest earned in your RA. To find out exactly how much you can top up, do log in to your CPF account using your Singpass to find out more.

CPF Top-Up

13. Can you do cash top-up once you hit the FRS?

Once you reach the FRS, you cannot do top up in the Retirement Sum Top Up Scheme. You can still top up your MediSave if you have not hit the Basic Healthcare Sum (BHS) to earn tax relief. You can still do voluntary contribution which will be allocated into your OA, SA, and MA based on your age’s allocation rate. The maximum contribution you can do is $37,740. Unfortunately, voluntary contributions do not attract tax relief unless you are self-employed.

14. Is it better to top up RA to ERS at 55 to get higher CPF life payout or just use BRS and property pledge and invest the difference?

The answer to this question is whether you can get a better return investing versus the return you can earn in CPF. Also, it depends on how reliable you want your stream of income to be. CPF LIFE gives a reliable income stream regardless of markets. At Providend, we believe in balance – using both CPF LIFE and investment in your spending plan to give you the income you need at retirement and also the reliability you will want.

15. I am 53. If I have $500k cash on hand now, is it better to put into CPF or invest with Providend?

This is a question we will need more information on because it will very much depend on your current situation.

Considerations include:

  • from what age onwards do you need your retirement income?
  • Is $500k part of your resources?
  • what is the income requirement for the lifestyle that you want to live?

You will need to look at your wealth in totality and to see that after funding your other financial goals, how much is left over, and overall what is the nature and characteristic of your income plan. We would advise you to speak with a Providend client adviser to understand how you can have a good spending plan before making any decision.

16. Question on voluntary CPF contribution. It was mentioned earlier that one can continue to make voluntary contributions post 55. Is there an age limit beyond which it would be acceptable?

There is no limit.

17. When can I top up RA to meet ERS ceiling?

Topping up RA to prevailing ERS is optional, and you can do it any time from age 55 onwards. Top ups can be done at any time of the year.

18. For the Retirement Top Up Scheme, could you please clarify if the $8,000+$8,000 cash top-up maximum is per month or per year?

The maximum top-up limit is per year.

19. After the age of 55, one can only voluntarily top-up RA, am I right? Upon reaching ERS, can you still voluntarily top up into RA? Or will you only be able to top up voluntarily into SA/OA then?

After age 55, you can only top up into RA. Upon reaching this year ERS, you can still top up to the increased ERS in subsequent years. 

20. Is there a topping scheme just for MediSave?

There is a top-up scheme to top up your CPF MediSave, up to a prevailing Basic Healthcare Sum (BHS). You can enjoy tax relief for you MediSave top-up as well.

21. Can I just confirm that after the age of 55, we will no longer be able to voluntarily top up specifically to our SA/OA/MA accounts, assuming that our RA has already reached ERS?

After 55 you can still continue to contribute a maximum of $6000 x 17 month x 0.37 Less CPF Mandatory Contribution into your OA/SA/MA. If you are doing top-ups under Retirement Sum Top Up scheme, you can only top up into your RA up to the prevailing ERS.

22. Can I still top up RA if it has already meet ERS ceiling?

You can top up your RA to the new ERS when it increases every year as the top-up limit does not take into consideration interest earned in your RA. To find out exactly how much you can top up, do log in to your CPF account using your Singpass to find out more.

23. Should a young person use the voluntary contribution scheme to save extra cash into OA for a property purchase? Versus saving in cash?

It depends. If you cannot earn as high of interest as 2.5% in short term, less volatile investments, then CPF is an alternative. However, under voluntary contributions (VC), you cannot control which account you top up to. You will be topping up to all three accounts (OA, SA, MA). Thus, you have less money when you need to downpay for your property. This might not be what you desire. Overall, it might make more sense to put money in low-risk instruments such as investment-grade bond funds and higher-yielding savings accounts.

24. Is the top-up scheme the same as what we contribute to SRS annually cap $15,300?

Both the SRS and Retirement Sum Top Up (RSTU) allow you to enjoy tax relief but they are different schemes.

25. Can I put more than $205,800 into the CPF RA?

Yes, you can. After 55, you can top up to the prevailing Enhance Retirement Sum ERS which is currently at $308,700.

26. Can my SA be used to top up the ERS next year when the SA account is closed?

When SA account is closed next year, the balance will be used to top up your RA up to FRS first, and the remaining is transferred to your OA. You can choose to manually transfer from OA to RA all the way to ERS, or do it by cash top up.

CPF Withdrawal

27. Can I withdraw from FRS after 55? Can I use it as an emergency fund?

After 55, an equivalent of the prevailing FRS is transferred to your RA. IF you wish to withdraw this sum, you can only withdraw the amount above the BRS (half the FRS), if you have to pledge your property to CPF.

28. If I put FRS or ERS at 55, can I withdraw partial up to BRS before 65 when I need an emergency fund?

If you have not started taking income from your CPF Life, have to pledge your property to CPF, you can withdraw the amount above BRS. However, if you have to do Retirement Sum Top Up (RSTU) above the BRS amount, the RSTU top-up amount above the BRS amount cannot be withdrawn as well.

29. What is the latest age where a person must totally withdraw from CPF?

There is no latest age.

30. Any benefits from pledging the property (50%) even if I can meet the FRS?

The main benefit is that you can withdraw more cash from your CPF accounts at age 55 as you don’t have to set aside the FRS in the RA. If you have a use for the excess cash, by pledging your property to CPF, you are able to withdraw anything in excess of BRS. The downside is that the annuity income that you will get in the future from CPF Life will be lower.

31. I’m age 55 next year & have no intention of withdrawing the excess. For how long I can leave the cash in the account?

From 2025 onwards, SA would be closed after 55 years old. You can leave the balance in your CPF OA for as long as you want.


32. Which CPF LIFE Plan is better between Basic and Standard?

It largely depends on your needs and preference, the basic plan has a lesser fixed payout but leaves more to be bequeathed to your loved ones. Whilst the standard plan has a higher fixed-income payout but leaves less for distribution to your family upon your death.

33. When do I decide which plan I want?

You can decide before the age you want to receive payouts. If you belong to the cohort that has turned or will turn 55 from May 2016 onwards, it will be anytime from age 65 to age 70. If you do not decide on the plan by age 70, the CPF board will decide on the Standard Plan for you.

CPF Nomination

34. What if there is no nomination? Where does the money go?

Your CPF monies will be administered by the Public Trustee Office (PTO) and distributed under the Intestate Succession Act.

CPF Investment Scheme

35. So we can buy ETF with monies in our CPF OA?

There is a list of Approved ETFs that you can invest with your CPF OA. You may want to check them from the CPF Board website.

Other CPF Matters

36. Is it advisable to encourage adults (20+ yrs old) to start out to work to put some savings into CPF?

We have to look at the adult’s situation. A young adult that started out work have fewer commitments and topping up their CPF allows them to enjoy tax relief. However, doing so reduces their cash flow.

While they may not need the money so soon, eventually they may need the cash flow for big-ticket items such as getting married, home renovations. Thus, we need to assess their overall plan to comment further.


For more CPF-related resources, check out:
1. Assets That Cannot Be Distributed Via A Will | CPF Monies & Joint Accounts
2. Here’s a Prudent Retirement Guide Amid the Latest CPF Changes (2024)
3. Understanding CPF Video Series on YouTube

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