Travelling used to start with a journey to the money changer (does The Arcade at Raffles Place ring a bell?) before your trip, comparing exchange rates from different money changers. The Covid-19 pandemic, however, was in some ways a catalyst to making card payment the preferred choice over cash, and this also changed the way travellers deal with money when going on overseas trips.
With the rise of multi-currency accounts and cards, it is now more convenient for travellers when it comes to dealing with foreign currencies while travelling. That said, with the various offerings available, it can be confusing when picking an account to travel with.
In this piece, we look at the popular multi-currency accounts available and, hopefully, help you pick the right account for your needs.
Currencies that can be exchanged and kept in account: SGD, USD, EUR, GBP, JPY, HKD, AUD, NZD, CHF, SEK
Owned by EZ-Link, YouTrip works like a debit card — you top up money into your YouTrip account, exchange it for the currencies you need, and use the card for payment when overseas. For the currencies that cannot be exchanged and kept in the account ahead of time, they will be converted on the spot during payment.
YouTrip’s most significant advantage is the ability to convert and make payments without any transaction fees in over 150 currencies. As YouTrip offers Mastercard wholesale rates, this also translates to better rates than most over-the-counter exchange rates. To take advantage of the best rates available, you can also check the rates for the 10 foreign currencies that can be exchanged and stored in your account and access on the go using the YouTrip mobile app.
YouTrip has also from June 15, 2023 started to waive ATM withdrawal fees for the first S$400 that its users withdraw overseas in one calendar month. Subsequent withdrawals are charged at a flat fee of 2%, which can be hefty if you are withdrawing a huge amount of cash.
Currencies that can be exchanged and kept in account: AED, AUD, BGN, CAD, CHF, CZK, GBP, HKD, HRK, ILS, ISK, JPY, MAD, MXN, NOK, NZD, PLN, QAR, RON, RSD, RUB, SAR, SEK, SGD, THB, TRY, USD, ZAR
Using interbank exchange rates, Revolut’s rates are the most accurate foreign exchange rates and offer better rates than physical money changers. Not only can you convert and keep more than 30 foreign currencies, Revolut also allows you to spend in over 150 currencies by using a linked credit or debit card.
Revolut markets itself as more than just a multi-currency card, and also offers remittance services at low fees for its users. This makes it a popular option for both travellers and foreign workers. To take advantage of the best foreign exchange rates, users can also set up watchlists to monitor foreign currency movements.
There are three membership tiers in Singapore. Standard, Premium, and Metal, Revolut offers slightly different advantages to each tier according to the customers’ needs. The Standard is a free membership tier that will be sufficient for most regular travellers. Paid tiers offer disposable virtual cards that can be used for online transactions, which provides an additional wall of protection against fraud for its users.
Users can withdraw S$350 (or five withdrawals, whichever comes first), S$700, and S$1050 with no fees on their Standard, Premium and Metal plan tiers respectively every month. A 2% fair usage fee with a minimum fee of S$1.49 applies thereafter. If you are looking to withdraw a huge sum of money while overseas, the 2% service fee can quickly become a substantial amount.
Currencies it can hold: SGD, AUD, CAD, EUR, HKD, JPY, NZD, CHF, GBP, USD, CHF, SEK, AED, ARS, BDT, BWP, BGN, CLP, CNY, CRC, CZK, DKK, EGP, GEL, GHS, HUF, IDR, ILS, INR, KES, KRW, LKR, MAD, MXN, MYR, NGN, NOK, NPR, PHP, PLN, PKR, RON, THB, TRY, TZS, UAH, UGX, UYU, VND, XOF, CFA, ZAR, ZMW
Previously known as TransferWise, Wise is a mobile app that provides a remittance service, letting you transfer up to 140 different currencies internationally with a small fee. The brand also launched the Wise card, which acts like a Visa debit card that allows travellers to store more than 40 different foreign currencies within the Wise app.
Whenever you spend with the Wise card, you will be getting the mid-market exchange rate, giving you a better rate than physical money changers. However, unlike YouTrip and Revolut, Wise comes with currency conversion fees starting from 0.43%, which will be presented before you make any conversion or remittance.
When it comes to ATM withdrawals, you can have free withdrawals twice totalling up to S$350 per month using the Wise card. Once you exceed the two free withdrawals but are still withdrawing below S$350 in total, you’ll be charged S$1.50 per withdrawal. Any withdrawal above S$350 will be charged at S$1.50 plus 1.75% of the amount withdrawn above S$350.
DBS Multi-Currency Account
Currencies it can hold: SGD, AUD, CAD, RMB, EUR, HKD, JPY, NZD, NOK, GBP, SEK, THB, USD
A convenient multi-currency account to have, the DBS Multi-Currency Account doubles as your savings account, offering the usual 0.05% interest rates for your Singapore dollars savings. While the basic account is free to use, if your balance falls below S$3000, a service fee of S$7.50 will be charged. The fee is waived for account owners who are below 29 years old.
By not charging any fees for foreign exchange, the DBS Multi-Currency Account offers competitive rates for its users, rivalling popular money changers such as the ones at Mustafa. You can link the account to a DBS debit card and pay by card while overseas. The account also allows you to exchange and keep currencies when there are favourable exchange rates for future travels.
Withdrawing money at ATMs overseas is also free at certain machines. As opposed to regular DBS cards which incur fees regardless of ATM machines, the DBS MCA allows you to withdraw cash for free at any Westpac Group ATMs in Australia, DBS Hong Kong for Plus/Cirrus cards, and DBS ATMS in India and Indonesia for Plus Cards. All other withdrawals overseas will, however, be charged S$7 per withdrawal.
UOB Mighty FX
Currencies it can hold: SGD, AUD, CAD, EUR, HKD, JPY, NZD, GBP, CHF, USD, AED, ZAR, SEK, NOK, DKK
The UOB Mighty FX multi-currency account is a great account to have for travel if you have one of these UOB accounts: One Account, KrisFlyer UOB Account, iAccount, Wealth Premium Account, or UOB Privilege Account. Linking one of these accounts to the Mighty FX allows you to transfer and convert money quickly to the currency of your choice. There is no minimum amount required to keep in your account. An annual fee of S$18 is waived for the first three years and will continue to be waived if you make at least 12 Mastercard transactions annually.
There are also no additional fees should you pay overseas with the debit card issued to you. You can make payments from the foreign currency savings account or convert your SGD to that currency on the spot. ATM cash withdrawals done overseas are charged S$5 for every transaction.
Citibank Global Foreign Currency Account
Currencies it can hold: SGD, AUD, CAD, EUR, HKD, JPY, NZD, CHF, GBP, USD, AED, DKK, ZAR, NOK, SEK
The Citibank Global Foreign Currency Account gives its users access to foreign currencies at Citibank ATMs overseas with no additional processing fee. You just need to top up your account and thereafter, easily pay using your Citibank debit card at the point-of-sale or online, at no additional currency conversion fee.
Another perk of having the Citibank Global Foreign Currency Account is the high daily transaction limit of S$2,000 while overseas. You would not be inconvenienced when it comes to cash withdrawals, unlike the other cards’ lower limits of S$350 – S$400, before service fees are imposed.
However, should you need to withdraw cash from any non-Citibank ATMs, there will be a 2.5% administrative fee charged by Citibank.
Every traveller has unique needs and demands and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for travel spending.
While YouTrip might offer fewer currencies to be kept and held in your account, it offers travellers a slightly higher amount to withdraw without fees when compared to Wise. Likewise, the DBS Multi-Currency Account offers 0.05% interest on your savings but could offer less competitive foreign exchange rates if compared to Revolut.
There is also no harm in signing up for a few of these accounts, especially since most of them do not require a minimum amount locked in your account. If you are heading off to your next vacation, remember to reach out to the Planner Bee team at firstname.lastname@example.org to grab your travel insurance!