This article was written in collaboration with DBS. All views expressed in the article are the independent opinion of DollarsAndSense.sg
(Editor’s Note: We’ve updated this article on 08 April 2019 to reflect changes to amounts insured under SDIC)
Travelling overseas today is very different to how we used to travel. With the proliferation of the internet and access to information, we are now able to tap on a multitude of travel websites to help with our planning. This allows us to create personalised travel experiences.
While areas such as booking flights and accommodations, purchasing tickets to local attractions and even buying travel insurance have all moved online, the payment methods that we use are still relatively traditional.
Very often, travellers exchange foreign currency they think they need before going overseas. If the amount is insufficient, they simply exchange more money or use their credit cards.
If you don’t travel frequently, this could be a reasonable strategy. However, for frequent flyers who travel overseas for weeks or even months, it may not be a practical method.
The Problem With Carrying Bulk Of Cash Overseas
If you think travelling is stressful, try carrying large wad of cash overseas. For a start, in most countries, you are required to declare at the customs if you are bringing in more than US$10,000, or an equivalent amount in domestic currencies.
Even if you do so, there are safety concerns you have to bear. Walking around with large amounts of foreign currency isn’t exactly safe or convenient. If you have to take out large stacks of cash each time you pay for something, you will also likely be putting a target on your back.
Prior to going overseas, you also need to estimate how much you would be spending on your trip. Most people would err on the side of caution, and that leads them to either change more money or bring along more local currency than necessary.
This often leads to them 1) over-spending or 2) bringing home large quantities of foreign currency.
Multi-Currency Accounts: A Smarter & Safer Way Of Travelling
In recent years, multi-currency accounts have become increasingly popular among frequent travellers.
Unlike a regular savings account in Singapore that only accepts and holds deposits in Singapore Dollar (SGD), a multi-currency account allows you to hold multiple foreign currencies in addition to the SGD in one single account. This allows account holders to make overseas transactions in foreign currencies directly from their bank account without incurring additional foreign exchange conversion fees, which is typically charged when you use a credit card overseas (e.g. Dynamic Currency Conversion fees and banks’ FX admin fees which ranges from 2.5% up to 15%).
An example of a multi-currency account is the DBS Multi-Currency Account (MCA). DBS MCA allows account holders to access up to 12 widely-used foreign currencies including the Australian Dollar, the Euro, the Hong Kong Dollar, the Thai Baht and of course the US Dollar.
Perks Of The DBS Multi-Currency Account (MCA)
With this Multi-Currency Account, travellers who frequently fly to several different countries can also ensure that they always have the relevant currencies they need in their accounts. They can do so by conveniently buying the required foreign currency online via funds transfer whenever they see favourable conversion rates. In this manner, there would be no need for them to stress over going to a traditional moneychanger, having to accept the currency exchange at that particular moment and keeping the physical foreign currency at home for a period of time before they travel or even after they return.
Furthermore, by linking a DBS Visa Debit Card to the DBS MCA as the primary account, any foreign currency transactions that travellers make will automatically be deducted from the respective foreign currency wallet that they hold in their multi-currency account, at no foreign exchange fees ever.
For example, if you are in Thailand and splurge 1,000 Thai Baht on drinks, payment made using your DBS Visa Debit Card would automatically be debited from the Thai Baht wallet in your multi-currency account (i.e. 1,000 Thai Baht is deducted, at no extra fees). In other words, you can pay like a local even when you are in a foreign country. The same applies for shopping on foreign e-commerce sites.
Your MCA-linked DBS Visa Card can also act as your ATM card overseas. If you are travelling to the UK, you can withdraw Sterling Pounds from the ATM. Do note that in this case, ATM withdrawal charges may apply.
You Can Sign Up For Free Today
If you are a frequent traveller (or an online shopper) and haven’t considered a multi-currency account, there is a good chance that what we discussed in this article would appeal to you. If you are interested, you can open a Multi-Currency Account with DBS today at no cost.
For existing DBS/POSB customers, your MCA will be opened instantly when you sign up online. This will take between just 3 to 5 minutes.
Do you think opening a multi-currency account makes sense for you based on the frequency of your travel? Discuss with us on Facebook on why you think it may or may not be useful for you.
*SGD deposits are insured up to S$75K by SDIC.