Whether we live, work or play in Singapore, we increasingly need and want better access to foreign currencies.
This is because we are increasingly going online to buy clothes, digital services or even furniture, and when we do, there’s a good chance we transact in foreign currencies.
And when we’re not online shopping, Singaporeans tend to 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 TransferWise
# 4 DBS MCA
# 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. They include 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), and others.
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. A $5 withdrawal fee will be charged on your overseas cash withdrawals.
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 earlier this year, Revolut is one of the newer players in Singapore’s multi-currency account and wallet market. Revolut has three tiers for its cards – Standard (free), Premium ($9.99/mth), and Metal ($19.99/mth).
Looking at its Standard tier, Revolut allows you to exchange 14 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.
Revolut allows you to spend in over 150 different foreign currencies, both online and offline, at the interbank exchange rate. On its website, it states that the in-app exchange rates are constantly changing to reflect the real time dynamic rate at which banks swap currencies. On weekends, a mark-up of 0.5% to 2% may be placed on certain currencies.
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.
If you want to make cash withdrawals from ATMs overseas, there will be no charges for the first $350 a month. Again, to have a larger limit for no-fee cash withdrawals, you can subscribe to the higher-tiered cards.
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.
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 its Premium and Metal customers 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 TransferWise
Similar to Revolut, TransferWise is another relatively new player in the market.
With Transferwise, you can store and exchange over 40 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. TransferWise 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.
Transferwise also allows users to spend in more than 150 currencies worldwide, both online and offline, without any foreign transaction fees.
You can also make foreign currency transfers or remittance via TranserWise. What’s unique about TransferWise is that you actually get your own international bank details to receive currencies for free, including your Australian, British, European, New Zealand and US accounts. Its website does state that Singapore and more countries are coming soon too.
On TransferWise, you will incur a small currency conversion fee. To understand how much you may incur, you can see the calculator provided. While fees do look competitive when we crunched in the currencies we wanted to convert (nearly 0.5%), its website does state that its conversion fees are 0.35% to 2.22%.
You also get to withdraw your first $350 in cash from overseas ATMs for free. Subsequent withdrawals are charged at 2%.
You are also able to lock or freeze your card, if you have misplaced it or suspect fraudulent activities.
# 4 DBS Multi-Currency Account (MCA)
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 MCA, and link your DBS Visa Debit Card to start performing transactions.
With the DBS MCA, 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 (RMB) and others.
It is one of the few cards providing access to the RMB, which can be useful for those who visit China often.
Using the Visa payment network, you would be able to pay in majority of the countries that were also quoted by the card earlier. While there isn’t a foreign currency conversion fee or transaction charge when you use the DBS MCA, this may be limited to the currencies it offers.
DBS MCA also allows customers to make transaction-free, same-day online transfers (or remittance) to Australia, Canada, China, Eurozone countries, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Thailand, UK and the US. Those who are transferring $50,000 or more also receive preferential foreign currency conversion rates.
What’s more, DBS also provides a brokerage service. Utilising services from the same bank, such as DBS Vickers and DBS MCA, we can also save on foreign currency exchange rates when we invest in companies that are listed in foreign currencies.
One hassle about the DBS MCA is that there is a fall-below fee of $5.00-$7.50 if we have an average daily balance of below $3,000 (or equivalent in foreign currencies). Also, bear in mind that if we are at the $3,000 level in foreign currencies, any fluctuations could mean we still incur the fall-below fee.
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 is 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 Might 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 Might 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 (RMB) and others.
Since the card will be supported by either Mastercard, payments may be made worldwide, however we are not sure whether the currency conversions used will be as good as one of the 10 currencies supported. The conversion rate used is the prevailing interbank market rate and a spread.
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.
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.