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Travel Money Guide: Singapore

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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?

ANZ Travel Card

ANZ Travel Card

The ANZ Travel Card is a prepaid card that can be loaded with up to 10 currencies to make purchases overseas at over 38 million merchants and over 2.3 million ATMs worldwide.

  • Lock in your exchange rates and know how much money you have to spend
  • No transaction fees for electronic purchases when using foreign currency
  • Multiple reload options - online, over the phone or in person
  • Manage your money online or over the phone 24/7
  • Spare card if in case one is lost or stolen

    Compare travel cards for Singapore

    Rates last updated July 27th, 2017
    Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Reload Fee Initial Load Fee
    ANZ Travel Card
    ANZ Travel Card
    AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD AUD 3.50, USD 2.50, GBP 2.00, EUR 2.20, NZD 4.50, CAD 3.00, HKD 20.00, SGD 4.00, THB 95, JPY 260 1.1% of the value purchased $0 Go to site More
    Qantas Cash
    Qantas Cash
    AUD, AED, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD AUD 1.95, CAD 2.00, EUR 1.50, GBP 1.25, HKD 15.00, JPY 160, NZD 2.50, SGD 2.50, USD 1.95, THB 70.00, AED 6.50 $0 $0 Go to site More
    Velocity Global Wallet® Card
    Velocity Global Wallet® Card
    AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD, ZAR AUD 0.00, CAD 2.00, EUR 1.50, GBP 1.25, HKD 15.00, JPY 160, NZD 2.50, SGD 2.50, THB 60, USD 1.95, ZAR 20, Other than above: AUD 1.95 $0 $0 Go to site More
    NAB Traveller Card
    NAB Traveller Card
    AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD

    Overseas: $0 per withdrawal via international ATMs

    Domestic: $3.75 fee applies

    $0 $0 Go to site More
    St.George Global Currency Card
    St.George Global Currency Card
    AUD, HKD, USD, SGD, GBP, JPY, EUR, THB, NZD, ZAR, CAD AUD 2.00 USD 2.00 GBP 1.50 EUR 2.00 NZD 3.00 CAD 2.50 HKD 15.00 SGD 3.00 JPY 200 THB 75.00 ZAR 20.00 $0 $0 Go to site More
    Westpac Global Currency Card
    Westpac Global Currency Card
    AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD, ZAR

    Non-Westpac Group ATM in Australia / non-Global Alliance ATM overseas: AUD 2.00, USD 2.00, GBP 1.50, EUR 2.00. NZD 3.00, CAD 2.50, HKD 15.00, SGD 3.00, JPY 200, THB 75.00, ZAR 20.00

    Over 50k ATMs (Global ATM Alliance network & Westpac): $0

    Transferring through another financial institution (BPAY) may attract a transaction fee. $0 Go to site More

    Rates last updated July 26th, 2017
    Name Product Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (MC) Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (VISA) Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Cash Advance Fee Annual fee Product Description
    Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard
    0% of transaction value
    $0
    The greater of 2% or $4.00
    $0 p.a.
    An introductory offer on balance transfers, plus complimentary travel insurance & access to a 24/7 Concierge service.
    Bankwest Qantas Platinum Mastercard
    0% of transaction value
    2% or $4.00, whichever is greater
    $160 p.a.
    Enjoy a high credit limit with complimentary travel insurances and earn 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases.
    Bankwest Qantas World Mastercard
    0% of transaction value
    $270 p.a.
    Earn uncapped Qantas Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases and receive complimentary travel insurance.

    Compare up to 4 providers

    Rates last updated July 27th, 2017
    $
    Monthly Account Fee Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Fee Free Deposit p.m. Details
    Bankwest Qantas Transaction Account
    $0 Overseas ATM withdrawal fees charged by Bankwest. Third party ATM fees and international transaction fees may still apply.
    Mastercard $0 $2,000 $0 account keeping fees when you deposit at least $2,000 into your account each month. Otherwise, a $6 monthly fee applies. Unlimited Free withdrawals at Bankwest and CommBank ATMs in Australia. Go to site More
    Westpac Choice
    $0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network. International transaction fee still applies.
    Mastercard $0 $2,000 $0 account keeping fees if you deposit at least $2,000 per month. Otherwise, a $5 monthly fee applies. Unlimited free withdrawals at St.George, Westpac, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA ATMs. Go to site More
    St.George Complete Freedom Account
    $0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network. International transaction fee still applies.
    Visa $0 $2,000 $0 account keeping fees if you deposit at least $2,000 per month. Otherwise, a $5 fee applies. Unlimited free withdrawals at St.George, Westpac and BankSA ATMs. Go to site More

    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.

    Singapore Budget Midrange Expensive
    to-sleepHostel
    $10 - $25 per night
    2 star hotel
    $80 - 120 per night
    5 star hotel
    $250 - $500 per night
    to-eatChicken and fish dumpling noodles (street stall)
    $8
    Lunch or dinner at a mid-range restaurant
    $30 - $60 per person
    4 course dinner at the Singapore Flyer
    $250 a head
    cameraVisit the Singapore Botanic Gardens
    free
    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.

    YearAverage annual exchange Australian Dollar (AUD) to Singaporean Dollar (SGD)
    20121.294160
    20131.210308
    20141.143276
    20151.033175
    20161.014219
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    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 optionProsConsiderations
    Debit cards for travel
    • Singapore bank ATMs do not charge an ATM operator fee
    • ATMs are located all over the city-state - every bank, MRT station, or shopping center has its own
    • Most Australian debit cards will charge a currency conversion fee
    • An international ATM withdrawal fee applies
    Prepaid travel money cards
    • Can be pre-loaded with foreign currency and cancelled at any time
    • Singapore dollars are a supported currency on almost all travel money cards
    • International ATM withdrawal fee, initial load fee, reload fee and inactivity fee applies
    Credit cards for travel
    • Credit cards are widely accepted, especially Visa and Mastercard
    • Some cards have no annual fees, no foreign exchange fees and they perform currency exchanges at the best possible interchange rate
    • Credit cards usually charge currency conversion fee
    • Cash withdrawals using your credit card are considered cash advances which will incur a costly fee and high rate
    Traveller's cheques
    • Security
    • Can be cashed at Changi Airport and major money changes throughout Singapore
    • Traveller's cheques are pretty much an old technology in Singapore making it hard to find for those who wants to buy one
    • A commission may apply to transactions
    • Exchange rate is less favourable than the Visa, Mastercard and American Express
    Cash
    • Greater payment flexibility
    • Convenience
    • There's no set limit as to how much money you can take into Singapore but you need to declare it if it is more the $30000 for money laundering purposes
    • More difficult to manage expenses
    • Although SG is considered safer than the other countries, please note that there is a pickpocket syndicate operating in the country

    This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.

    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.

    Getting a refund if you’re the victim of a fraudulent transaction

     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.

    SGD banknotes

    Exchanging cash

    Licensed money changers are easy to spot and are located at Changi International and Seletar airports as well as in shopping centers

    ATM withdrawals

    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.

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    Shirley in Singapore

    shirley

    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.
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    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.

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    This page was last modified on 4 July 2017 at 11:18am.

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    4 Responses

    1. Default Gravatar
      SkpOctober 4, 2016

      Hi
      Can I use debit card instead of credit card at hotel check in

      • Staff
        ChesterOctober 5, 2016Staff

        Hello Skp,

        Thanks for your question.

        Absolutely! as long as there is enough funds on your debit card to cover the amount and if the hotel accepts VISA,MasterCard as well as American Express payments then they may be able to accept and process your payment.

        Regards,
        Chester

    2. Default Gravatar
      MDecember 24, 2015

      How many Singapore dollar a tourist can carry for 5 days. Whether any dollar purchased receipt is mandatory.Other easy option ?

      • Staff
        SallyDecember 29, 2015Staff

        Hello MR,

        Thanks for your question.

        How much money you can carry will depend on the travel money option you choose. For example, some prepaid travel money cards and debit cards have different restrictions on how much you can carry. You can use our travel money guide to compare your options and find one that’s best for you.

        I hope that helps.

        Cheers,

        Sally

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