This article was written in collaboration with YouTrip. All views expressed in this article are the independent opinion of DollarsAndSense.sg based on our research. DollarsAndSense.sg is not liable for any financial losses that may arise from any transactions and readers are encouraged to do their own due diligence. You can view our full editorial policy here.
Travel is back with a bang, with 52% of Singaporeans intending to travel overseas in 2023, according to the e-Conomy SEA report. Whether it’s pent-up wanderlust from the pandemic or the strengthening of the Singapore dollar, it’s evident more people are packing their suitcases.
You typically start the process by setting aside a vacation fund and monitoring the exchange rates more religiously. When you spot a favourable exchange rate, it’s time to make your way down to the money changer (the ones at The Arcade come to mind) and brave the queue to convert your money.
After going through all that hassle, you are left with a large wad of foreign currency to safekeep until your holiday. Unwittingly, this could lead to another set of problems, such as storing your physical cash safely at home and paying attention to customs clearance limits.
Thankfully, in an increasingly cashless world, cash is no longer king. Multi-currency accounts and mobile wallets like YouTrip offer a digital alternative to holding foreign currencies. Beyond providing a safer and more convenient way to exchange and spend your money, they also help you stretch your dollar and get you the best rates for your overseas travel.
YouTrip 2.0: Exchange & Store Up To 10 Currencies, Spend In 150+ Countries
If you’re new to multi-currency wallets like the YouTrip card, here’s a quick introduction to what it is and offers.
YouTrip is a popular multi-currency mobile wallet in Singapore and comes as a mobile-only platform available on both iOS and Android operating systems. The already easy-to-use platform just had a recent revamp – to YouTrip 2.0 – making it even more intuitive for all users.
The mobile app is linked to a contactless Mastercard® that enables you to make payments in 150+ countries with zero transaction fees. On the app, users can convert foreign currencies on-demand at wholesale exchange rates and store up to 10 different major currencies.
Anyone aged 15 and above can register for a YouTrip account. This takes 3 minutes, and you can apply to receive the newly designed purple YouTrip Mastercard® for free with no annual fees or subscription charges. If you need further guidance, check out our step-by-step guide to opening a YouTrip account.
#1 Get A Good Foreign Exchange Rate
While we all want a good exchange rate, the problem is knowing what a good rate is and being able to exchange your money at that rate.
Even a small improvement in the exchange rate you get can lead to a big difference in your wallet, depending on the amount you change. Of course, there’s also the satisfaction of getting a good deal (exchange rate).
To get a reference point for a good rate, you can rely on sites like Google.com or XE.com to search for the interbank exchange rates for the currency of your choice. These prices do not include any markups that typical retail banks and money changers charge.
For example, when we compared the exchange rates for SGD/USD on 7 June 2023, we found that YouTrip offered a better rate at SGD1:USD0.7418 compared to the “Google rate” of SGD1:USD0.740.
With a multi-currency card like YouTrip, you can conveniently get a competitive rate that is close to the interbank rate, as there are no additional markups or transaction fees charged by YouTrip. The value of being able to access competitive exchange rates in the palm of your hand multiplies when you land in a foreign country where access to money changers is limited or the rates offered are much less favourable.
“Google rate” vs YouTrip rate
(Screenshot from Google and YouTrip app)
#2 Lock In (Early) When You see Favourable Exchange Rates
Foreign currencies tend to be less volatile on a day-to-day basis, providing more price stability. Even then, macroeconomic events and monetary policies can cause rates to trend higher or lower. This provides a pocket of opportunities to lock in a favourable exchange rate – when you see one – well in advance of your travel.
We have previously written on the merits of exchanging the foreign currency of our travel destination whenever we believe it to be favourable instead of waiting until the point of travel. While we may not be able to exactly time the highest or lowest point to exchange, we could at least lock in when the rates are favourable instead of waiting for even better rates, which could even reverse before we take action.
With YouTrip, you can easily monitor the real-time exchange rates on 10 major currencies, such as British pounds, US dollars, Euros, Japanese yen, Hong Kong dollars, and Australian dollars. Once you spot a rate you like, you can lock the rate and store your currency in YouTrip until you need to use it.
#3 Avoid Changing Foreign Currencies On Weekends
You may think of waiting for the weekends to exchange your foreign currencies for convenience. However, weekends are possibly the worst time to exchange money because the international foreign exchange (FX) market is closed.
This means that the rates that you get tend to be less competitive compared to weekdays. Additionally, money changers might place a markup on the exchange rates to account for the increased risk they’re taking.
That’s where YouTrip can be handy. You don’t have to wait till you’re free on the weekends to head down to a money changer. The exchange rates are in your pocket, and you can exchange your money on demand.
#4 Always Choose To Pay In The Local Currency Of The Country You’re In
One of the challenges when travelling overseas is knowing the conversion to Singapore dollars for the day-to-day things that we spend on. This might cause us to pay for things in our home currency instead of the local currency to know exactly how much we are spending in Singapore dollar terms.
For example, say you’re on holiday in Japan and your Omakase meal is billed at ¥22,000. When you pay with your card, the waiter offers a choice of payment in your billing currency (Singapore dollar) or the local currency (Yen). You may be tempted to pay in Singapore dollars to know exactly how much your meal costs without having to wait for the credit card bill. However, this convenience can turn out to be a costly mistake, and you could end up paying 3-5% more due to the Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC).
The retail merchant offers DCC as a service by allowing you to pay in the billing currency. In return, the merchant determines the exchange rate between the local currency (Yen) and the billing currency (Singapore dollar), which is usually unfavourable to you. On the other hand, when you pay in local currency, the credit card issuing bank will apply the exchange rates taken from the card association, which is closer to the interbank rates but will include admin charges.
Instead, switch to a YouTrip card and skip all these high fees. As the Yen is a currency you can store on your YouTrip card, you can simply pay with your Yen balances – giving you full transparency on the exchange rate. Even if you do not have any Yen, or are spending in a currency that you cannot store on YouTrip, there are no hidden fees to worry about. You pay for only what you spend based on the wholesale exchange rate.
Withdraw Cash Whenever You Need
Cash might be passe, but there are still times and places when you may need it, especially with small merchants who may not accept cashless payments. For those times, you can withdraw cash from your YouTrip card at any overseas ATM that displays the Mastercard®, Maestro®, and/or Cirrus® logos.
Under the refreshed features of YouTrip 2.0, you can enjoy free overseas withdrawals for the first S$400 in foreign currency per calendar month. You need to pay a 2% fee on withdrawals above this amount. Again, remember to select to withdraw in the country’s local currency to avoid the DCC charges for currency conversion.
Enjoy Best Rates All Day, While Staying Protected Against Unauthorised Card Use With YouTrip
On top of the convenience and competitive rates, YouTrip 2.0 now also provides a virtual card in addition to your physical card. This allows you to start transacting in-app and for online payments without having to wait for your physical card to arrive.
What’s more, the virtual card would be compatible with Apple Pay (from Q3 2023 onward), giving you even more convenience if you’re an Apple user.
YouTrip 2.0 offers the same top-notch protection of your funds right at your fingertips. On your YouTrip app, you can lock and unlock both your physical and virtual cards with a simple tap, ensuring the prevention of any fraudulent transactions when you don’t use them.
Register for the new and improved YouTrip 2.0 account today, and you will not only enjoy more savings on your overseas spend but also greater convenience, control and peace of mind.