Whether we live, work or play in Singapore, we increasingly need and want better access to foreign currencies.
After 2 years of border closures, Singaporeans are finally free to resume their national hobby: travelling.
Whether we live, work or play in Singapore, we increasingly need and want better access to foreign currencies. Even during the travel lockdowns, we have increasingly gone online to buy clothes, digital services or even furniture, and when we do, there’s a good chance we transact in foreign currencies.
Now that travel has resumed, many of us may be busy planning our next holiday. This is when we need to find the best exchange rates. Apart from that, we also have other needs, including the security of not walking around with so much physical cash, paying on a card without incurring hefty transaction fees and easy and convenient access to our funds back in Singapore.
Singapore is also a regional and global financial hub, attracting investments and regional headquarters. This means many foreigners come into Singapore for work and may want to explore the region or need to regularly send money overseas. This also opens many avenues for foreign investments for those living in Singapore.
We look at 5 popular multi-currency accounts, wallets and cards, and look at what they offer Singaporean travellers.
Top 5 Multi-Currency Accounts And Wallets In Singapore
# 1 YouTrip
# 2 Revolut
# 3 Wise
# 4 DBS My Account
# 5 UOB Mighty FX
# 1 YouTrip
Launched by You Technologies Group in 2018, YouTrip was one of the first multi-currency mobile wallets to come to Singapore.
When you start using YouTrip, you will have the mobile application, which allows you to store and exchange 10 selected currencies: Singapore Dollar(SGD), Australian Dollar (AUD), New Zealand Dollar (NZD), British Pound (GBP), Euro (EUR), Hong Kong Dollar (HKD), Japanese Yen (JPY), Swiss Franc (CHF), Swedish Krona (SEK) and US Dollar (USD).
You can also apply for a free contactless Mastercard, allowing you to make online or offline payments in over 150 foreign currencies without incurring any transaction fees and at a wholesale rate.
With your YouTrip card, you can also withdraw cash overseas at wholesale exchange rates. You can withdraw at any overseas Mastercard, Maestro or Cirrus ATMs for a flat $5 withdrawal fee.
If you have lost your YouTrip card or suspect there may be fraudulent transactions taking place, there’s also a handy function to instantly lock your card from your mobile app. This means if you find your card again or realise the “suspicious” transactions were indeed made by you, you can simply activate your card again. This way you don’t have to cancel your card or ask for a new card each time this happens.
DollarsAndSense Exclusive: Use the promo code DNS5 to receive an additional $5 in your YouTrip account after successfully signing up.
# 2 Revolut
Launched in 2019, Revolut has three tiers for its cards – Standard (free), Premium ($9.99/mth), and Metal ($19.99/mth).
Fiat Currency Exchange: Revolut’s free Standard tier allows you to exchange 28 currencies, including the Singapore Dollar (SGD), Hong Kong Dollar (HKD), US Dollar (USD), Australian Dollar (AUD), New Zealand Dollar (NZD) Euro (EUR), British Pound (GBP), Japanese Yen (JPY), Canadian Dollar (CAD), Thai Baht (THB), and others. This fiat currency exchange is capped at S$5,000 per month for Standard tier users and the currency would be stored within your Revolut wallet. Premium users can do so up to $15,000 per month while Metal users have unlimited usage.
Foreign Currency Spending: You can spend in over 150 different foreign currencies, both online and offline, at the interbank exchange rate with Revolut. The in-app exchange rates are constantly changing to reflect the real time dynamic rate at which banks swap currencies. There are no hidden fees and any fees charged (if any) would be shown before the exchange transaction is made.
Remittance: Revolut also goes a step further to offer foreign currency transfers or remittance also at the interbank exchange rate. To use this, you need to take note of the $9,000 foreign exchange limit per month. If you want to exchange more, you will incur a fee of 0.5%. On its Premium and Metal services, it allows customers to exchange more without the fees.
ATM Withdrawals: If you want to make cash withdrawals from ATMs overseas, there will be no charges for the first $350 a month for Standard users. For larger limits for no-fee cash withdrawals, consider subscribing to Premium (up to $700 per month) or Metal (up to $1,050 per month). Any withdrawals above the limit would incur a 2% charge.
There are also other useful functions on the Revolut app, including setting up recurring payments, using the Budgeting function to track and limit your expenditure as you prefer, as well as a Vault function to round up your expenses and set it aside as savings. Additionally, you can also invest in commodities (e.g. gold and silver). This would incur a fee of 1.5% for Standard users and 0.5% for Premium and Metal users. For parents, the Junior account allows you to teach your child good money habits while having control over their cashless payments
On Revolut, you can receive instant alerts for transactions so you know immediately if your card is being mis-used. Similar to the YouTrip card, you also have the ability to turn off certain functions of your card if you lose it or suspect certain fraudulent activities.
Finally, Revolut offers a unique “Disposable Virtual Card”, where the card number is generated and can only ever be used once. This can be useful when you are making transactions on online sites that you may not fully trust.
# 3 Wise
Wise, also formerly known as TransferWise, offers competitive rates and one of the largest currency options on the market
Fiat Currency Exchange: Wise allows you to store and exchange over 50 currencies, including Singapore Dollar (SGD), Malaysian Ringgit (MYR), Hong Kong Dollar (HKD), US Dollar (USD), Australian Dollar (AUD), New Zealand Dollar (NZD) Euro (EUR), British Pound (GBP), Japanese Yen (JPY), Canadian Dollar (CAD), Thai Baht (THB), and others. This is the most out of all the players in the market today. Wise is also the only card providing access to the Malaysian Ringgit, which may prove to be useful for those travelling there often, for leisure or work.
Foreign Currency Spending: Wise also allows users to spend in more than 200 currencies worldwide, both online and offline, without any foreign transaction fees.
You can also make foreign currency transfers or remittance via Wise.
Remittance: You can send money to 80 countries. What’s unique about Wise is that you actually get your own international bank details to receive currencies for free for 9 countries, including Singapore, Australia, UK, Europe, New Zealand, Canada and US accounts.
Similar to other players, there are no hidden fees. To see how much fee you may incur, you can check the calculator provided. You also get to withdraw your first $350 in cash from overseas ATMs for free. Subsequent withdrawals are charged at 1.75%. You are also able to lock or freeze your card, if you have misplaced it or suspect fraudulent activities.
# 4 DBS My Account
Apart from new digital solutions, the incumbents in Singapore are also providing their answer to Singaporeans’ need for foreign currency exchange and transfers. You can apply for the DBS My Account. This was formerly known as the DBS Multi-Currency Account (MCA). You can also link your DBS Visa Debit Card to enjoy foreign currency spending.
With the DBS My Account, you can buy and save 13 currencies, including the Singapore Dollar (SGD), Hong Kong Dollar (HKD), US Dollar (USD), Australian Dollar (AUD), New Zealand Dollar (NZD) Euro (EUR), British Pound (GBP), Japanese Yen (JPY), Canadian Dollar (CAD), Thai Baht (THB), Chinese Renminbi Offshore (CNH) and others.
Using the Visa payment network, you would be able to pay in the majority of the countries that were also quoted by the card earlier. However, linked card access is not available for CNH.
While there isn’t a foreign currency conversion fee or transaction charge when you use the linked DBS Visa Debit Card, you need to have sufficient funds within the multi-currency account for the transaction. Otherwise, you may incur foreign transaction fees.
DBS users also have access to DBS Remit which also you to make transaction-free, same-day online transfers (or remittances) to over 50 countries including Australia, Canada, China, Eurozone countries, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Thailand, UK and the US. Those who are transferring $50,000 or more also receive preferential foreign currency conversion rates.
DBS also provides a brokerage service. Utilising services from the same bank, such as DBS Vickers and DBS My Account, we can also save on foreign currency exchange rates when we invest in companies that are listed in foreign currencies.
A change from the previous DBS MCA, DBS My Account doesn’t charge a fall-below fee. Only an account fee of $2 per month is incurred if you require paper statements (this is waived if the account is on e-Statement).
Being a local bank, customers get to enjoy protection under the Singapore Deposit Insurance Scheme (SDIC), where up to $75,000 of their funds with the bank are insured. However, do note that only your local currencies in the account will fall under this coverage, while foreign currencies will not.
# 5 UOB Mighty FX
UOB also offers a multi-currency solution with its UOB Mighty FX, which has to be linked to any of the following UOB SGD base account: One Account, iAccount, Wealth Premium Account, Privilege Account, KrisFlyer UOB Account.
There are 10 currencies you can store and spend on the UOB Mighty FX, including Singapore Dollar (SGD), Hong Kong Dollar (HKD), US Dollar (USD), Australian Dollar (AUD), New Zealand Dollar (NZD) Euro (EUR), British Pound (GBP), Japanese Yen (JPY), Canadian Dollar (CAD), Chinese Renminbi offshore (CNH) and others.
Depending on the base account chosen, a Mighty FX Debit Card or KrisFlyer UOB Debit Card will be issued. Since the card is supported by Mastercard, payments may be made worldwide. However, similar to DBS My Account, currency conversion rates and foreign transactions fees may apply for transactions outsides of the funds within your Mighty FX.
Unlike DBS MCA, the UOB Mighty FX does not require a minimum balance to be maintained. However, there is an annual fee of $18 that is waived for the first three years. After which, the fee is waived when a minimum of 12 Mastercard transactions are performed in a year
There will be a $5 charge per cash withdrawal at overseas ATMs.
Similar to the DBS MCA, customers get to enjoy protection under the Singapore Deposit Insurance Scheme (SDIC), where up to $75,000 of their funds with the bank is insured. Again, this will not encompass your foreign currencies.
Other Options For Foreign Currency Conversion
Aside from the multi-currency players mentioned above, there are also other options for foreign currency conversion that may be suitable for your purposes.
Instarem (by Nium) is a popular option for those who mainly require foreign currency exchange for remittance purposes. Focusing on global payments, Instarem offers low fees (varying between 0% and 1%) and access to send money to over 50 countries.
One unique feature of Instarem is the ability to send payments to a Visa Debit Card. To check whether the recipient card is eligible for instant transfers, you just have to enter the card details on the ‘Recipient’s page’ and Instarem will automatically notify you.
Unlike the other multi-currency accounts listed above, Instarem doesn’t have a wallet function, meaning that it does not allow you to convert and store foreign currency.
However, Instarem’s amaze card does allow you to spend foreign currency while taking advantage of their competitive FX rates.
Exclusive For DollarsAndSense Readers: Use the promo code DNS15 to receive an additional SGD $15 when you make an initial transfer of at least SGD $1,000. Let us know what you think!
#7 OCBC Global Savings Account
Our third local bank, OCBC also has an option for multi-currency accounts: OCBC Global Savings Account. However, it has much higher initial deposit requirements which may make it less feasible for people who make smaller transactions.
OCBC Global Savings Accounts allows you to make transactions in 8 currencies: Australian Dollar (AUD), New Zealand Dollar (NZD), Canadian Dollar (CAD), Chinese Yuan Offshore (CNH), Hong Kong Dollar (HKD), Euro (EUR), British Pound (GBP), and United States Dollar. For account opening, you would need to make an initial deposit of $5,000 for AUD, CAD, CNH, EUR, GBP, NZD, USD currencies and $50,000 for HKD currency. This is also the minimum end balance required daily to earn interest rate.
You may also link an OCBC Debit Card to make foreign currency transactions for free. However, if there are insufficient funds in the relevant foreign currency in your Global Savings Account or you don’t hold the foreign currency, you may be charged in Singapore dollars (SGD) and incur currency conversion rates and foreign transactions fees.
You can also withdraw foreign currency held in your OCBC Global Savings Account overseas at OCBC ATMs for free. This can be useful in Hong Kong and Macau where you can withdraw HKD at OCBC Wing Hang ATMs.
#8 Citibank Global Foreign Currency Account
The main draw of the Citibank Global Foreign Currency Account is the ability to withdraw foreign currency at Citi ATMs worldwide without fees. Considering their wide international presence, this can be a significant advantage for global travellers.
The Citibank Global Foreign Currency Account allows you to transact and exchange multiple foreign currencies including Australian Dollar (AUD), Canadian Dollar (CAD), Euro (EUR), Hong Kong Dollar (HKD), Japanese Yen (JPY), New Zealand Dollar (NZD), Sterling Pound (GBP), Swiss Franc (CHF), US dollar (USD), UAE Dirham, South African Rand, Swedish Krona, Norwegian Krone and Danish Krone.
You can also use the linked Citibank Debit Card for foreign currency spending without additional currency conversion fee.
Unique to this account is the checking facilities. You can request for a USD checkbook upon account opening, at no charge.
However, the high minimum initial deposit of US$10,000 or equivalent may be too steep for casual travel usage. Additionally, Citibank charges an account service fee of $15 per month for customers who fall below the monthly minimum Total Relationship Balance (TRB) of S$15,000.
#9 HSBC Everyday Global Account
Another international bank, HSBC Everyday Global Account offers the ability to transact in 11 currencies including Australian Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Euro, Japanese Yen, New Zealand Dollar, Pound Sterling, Swiss Franc, US Dollar, Hong Kong Dollar and Chinese renminbi, and Singapore Dollar.
Similar to Citibank, a key advantage of HSBC Everyday Global Account is the ability to withdraw foreign currency at HSBC ATMs worldwide without fees. This is limited to HSBC ATMs (except in Argentina, France, Brazil, Greece, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand and Turkey) for HSBC Personal Banking Everyday Global Debit Card Cardholders. Premier and Jade Everyday Global Debit Card Cardholders can withdraw for free at all ATMs worldwide.
The basic tier, HSBC Everyday Global Account (Personal Banking) requires a minimum average daily balance of SGD2,000 (or its equivalent) in a single currency or in combined currencies.
This article was first published on 18 November 2019 and updated with new information. Additional reporting by Angela Koo.