Compare how you can take your money and spend Singapore dollars in the Garden City.
Singapore is the world’s only island city state and a destination not to be missed. Before you head off, though, it’s important to know exactly how you’re going to access your travel money on your holiday. Use this guide to discover the savviest ways to spend in Singaporean dollars without racking up travel money fees.
Singapore has one of the lowest rates of crime in the world (yes, no jaywalking or littering while you’re there), so you won’t feel threatened carrying cash. Most locals tend to use EFTPOS or their credit cards to pay for goods and services, you won’t have any trouble at all using your travel card, debit card or credit card while you’re in Singapore to make over the counter purchases or ATM withdrawals.
Plus, there’s more good news. Unlike Australia, ATMs in Singapore owned by banks don’t charge operator fees. Look for a travel money product which waives the currency conversion fee as well as the international ATM withdrawal fee so you can spend your travel budget without paying those annoying and unnecessary international transaction charges.
Which option is right for your next trip?
Flight Centre Key to the World Currency Card
The Key to the World Currency Card is a prepaid travel card from Flight Centre, which lets you load up to 10 currencies in just one card.
- Pay no card issue fees, initial load fees and inactivity fees.
- This card lets you transfer between currencies, load more funds and check your balance and transactions online.
- You can choose up to 10 currencies to load onto your card.
Compare travel cards for Singapore
How many dollars do I need to bring to Singapore?
Singapore is one of the most expensive cities in the world. However, there are accommodation, food and activity options to suit all budgets.
$10 - $25 per night
|2 star hotel|
$80 - 120 per night
|5 star hotel|
$250 - $500 per night
|Chicken and fish dumpling noodles (street stall)|
|Lunch or dinner at a mid-range restaurant|
$30 - $60 per person
|4 course dinner at the Singapore Flyer|
$250 a head
|Visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens|
|Visit the Changi war museum|
$50 per person
|VIP tour of Universal Studios Singapore|
$400 per person
*Prices are approximate and based on summer seasonality and are subject to change.
Exchange rate history
Singapore dollars (SGD) are the national currency of Singapore. The Australian dollar has weakened against the Singapore dollar since the Global FInancial Crisis and has been around parity for the past few years.
|Year||Average annual exchange Australian Dollar (AUD) to Singaporean Dollar (SGD)|
Which travel cards, debit cards and credit cards are best to use in Singapore?
Major card brands are widely accepted in Singapore. If a merchant insists on applying a credit card surcharge to your purchase, you should consider looking for other alternatives. The majority of travel money cards support SGD, which makes these products a viable option for this destination, but they don’t have your name on the front. This can be an issue if the merchant wants to see your I.D. when you make a purchase over the counter. ATMs in Singapore will accept the major brands (Visa, MasterCard and American Express) no problems. Compared to other countries, you’re spoilt for travel money choice in Singapore.
Travel money options for Singapore at a glance
|Travel money option||Pros||Considerations|
|Debit cards for travel|
|Prepaid travel money cards|
|Credit cards for travel|
How different travel money options work in Singapore
Travel prepaid cards
Prepaid travel money cards let you to load Australian dollars and exchange the money to a foreign currency via a convenient online portal. Singapore dollars are a supported currency on almost all travel money cards — the Suncorp, Australia Post and American Express prepaid travel cards don’t support spending in Singapore dollars.
Compare these cards by the front and back end fees such as the international ATM withdrawal fee, initial load fee, reload fee and inactivity fee. The international ATM fee is the main one to avoid because you’re going to need cash at various points throughout your trip. Singapore ATMs don’t charge a local operator fee, you can withdraw money for free using a prepaid travel card which waives the international ATM fee loaded with Singapore dollars.
- Tip: Prepaid travel cards are dual card accounts, meaning you’ll receive an additional card. The second card acts as a backup for the first.
Using Australian debit cards in Singapore
Most Australian debit cards will charge a currency conversion fee when you carry out a transaction in a currency other than Australian dollars as well as an international ATM withdrawal fee when you use an ATM. The Citibank Plus Transaction Account doesn't charge any of these fees. It also comes with the benefit of fee-free international money transfers to a number of countries. The Citibank Plus is as good at home as it is overseas, you can withdraw free of charge from any Citibank, Westpac, St.George, BankSA and Bank of Melbourne ATM in Australia. Citibank operates more than 250 ATMs in Singapore. These ATMs are evenly distributed throughout the islands of Singapore, so you shouldn’t have to look too far to find a Citibank ATM. Withdrawing from one of these ATMs will mean you can access cash for the same price as Australia — even cheaper in some cases.
- Tip: Singapore bank ATMs do not charge an ATM operator fee.
Travelling to Singapore with an Australian credit card
Credit cards can be a good way to access a line of credit overseas, which could come in handy for large or emergency purchases. However, using a credit card comes with many fees to consider. Look out for a card that waives the currency conversion fee (of usually 3%) that you’ll have to pay when you spend in Singaporean dollars.
Also, keep an eye out for cards with 0% purchase offers or interest-free days that won’t charge you interest when you pay your account in full by the statement due date. Unlike a debit or prepaid card, you shouldn’t use your credit card for ATM withdrawals in Singapore. Withdrawals are considered cash advances, and you’re likely to incur a costly fee and high rate.
For example, the Bankwest platinum credit cards and the 28 Degrees MasterCard waive the international ATM fee and the currency conversion fee, and you can avoid the cash advance interest rate and cash advance fee too by transferring money onto your credit card. Watch out, though, the card scheme zero liability guarantees do not apply if you’re using a credit card with a positive balance.
- Tip: Some financial institutions give you free travel insurance when you pay for your return travel ticket to your credit card.
Using traveller's cheques in Singapore
Traveller’s cheques have been replaced by modern forms of travel money such as debit, credit and prepaid travel cards. Traveller’s cheques can be cashed at Changi Airport and major money changes throughout Singapore. A commission may apply to the transaction and the rate is less favourable than the Visa, MasterCard and American Express foreign exchange rate applied to ATM withdrawals and over the counter purchases.
Paying with cash in Singapore
You’ll need cash if you want to shop in the market areas of Haji Lane, Sim Lim and Burgis, otherwise you’ll find that you can use your card for the majority of purchases in Singapore.
Licensed money changers are easy to spot and are located at Changi International and Seletar airports as well as in shopping centers
Singapore bank ATMs do not charge a local operator fee for ATM withdrawals. Provided that your card doesn’t charge for currency conversion and international ATM fees, you can make free ATM withdrawals in Singapore.
Finding cash and ATMs
The exchange rate
The card scheme (for example: Visa and MasterCard) foreign exchange rate is applied to over the counter purchases and ATM withdrawals when you use your card. This rate is a touch above the market rate and is better than what you’ll get at exchange offices and banks.Back to top
Shirley in Singapore
Shirley speaks about her time in Singapore and what she thinks are the best short term travel money options for a holiday lasting couple of weeks in the Garden City.
Where did you visit in Singapore?
Marina Bay, Sentosa, Orchard Road, Haji Lane, Sim Lim and Burgis Markets.
What cards did you take with you?
Why did you take these cards with you?
- Citibank Plus Transaction Account. Shirley says she took the Citibank Plus because it doesn’t charge any international transaction fees, plus she says she did her research and knew that there were plenty of Citibank ATMs in Singapore. Her card was never rejected, and because she had transferred money into the Citi account before she left, it only took about a business day for the funds to clear in her Citibank Plus account. Shirley says she’s also used the Citibank Plus in other countries. She says the good thing about the account is it doesn’t charge monthly fees so you can save it for your next trip.
- Commonwealth Bank. She took the Commonwealth Bank Gold Awards Credit card to take advantage of the complimentary international travel insurance. She says the Gold Awards card was also good to use as a backup line of credit in case she ran out of money.
Did you withdraw from ATMs?
Shirley says she did, but not that often. She says most businesses are equipped with terminals for card purchases at the point of sale, so she didn’t need to worry about taking cash out regularly. When she did withdraw cash from ATMs she used Citibank ATMs (they’re not hard to find). She didn’t pay any ATM fees when she did make withdrawals.
Were there any places where you had trouble using any of your cards?
Shirley says had no problems finding retailers who accepted Visa. When she was in Singapore, she says she never used her PIN, she had to sign for everything as everything is processed through credit and not savings. She also says that it is best to bring cash to Haji Lane, Sim Lim and Burgis Markets if you want to do some shopping.
What are you money travel tips for Singapore?
- Shirley says remember to set up the Citibank card before you leave Australia. This means making at least one transfer to the Citi account from your transaction account. She believes this will cut down the time it takes for the transfer to clear for future transfers to the account.
- She didn’t need to tell Citibank about her travel plans; however, she says she had to inform the Commonwealth Bank. She’d heard Commbank will block accounts if they’re used overseas. You can inform Commonwealth Bank that you’re travelling overseas through NetBank, so you don’t need to call them up or visit a branch.
- Allow plenty of time for direct transfers from your normal transaction account to the Plus account and don’t leave things to the last minute or risk running out of cash.
- Singaporean restaurants don’t include service charges, so remember to account for these when paying for goods and services.
- She says the exchange rates were better in Singapore than Australia, so she waited to exchange money until she arrived. She says the more you change the better the rate.
Buying Singapore dollars in Australia
It’s better to wait till you arrive in Singapore and make an ATM withdrawal or get your Australian dollars changed at an exchange office rather than get money exchanged in Australia: the rates will be better. You can bring the Aussie dollar equivalent of SGD$20,000 into the country without making a customs declaration. If you do want to change money in Australia before you go, consider the following institutions:
Travelex and Australia Post have outlets at major Australian airports. You can order your cash online and collect it from the airport before you leave.
Why you’ll need a combination of travel money products
Always have more than one way to access your money, it’s a golden rule which applies in Australia as much as it does overseas. A combination of a travel card or travel debit card and credit card will give you options when it comes to saving on fees for over the counter purchases and ATM withdrawals. The products you use are up to you. If you have any questions about travel money for Singapore, get in touch with us using the form at the bottom of the page and a member of the finder.com.au team will be in touch.Back to top
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