Banks, ATM's and Currency Exchange
Before you head to Singapore, learn about:
- Changing money in Singapore
- Using credit and debit cards in Singapore
- ATMs in Singapore
- Banks in Singapore
- Travellers cheques (and why you shouldn't use them)
Changing Money in Singapore
Changing money when you get to Singapore can be a good idea. But having said that, there are still some things to consider and look out for if you decide to exchange currency this way.
Here are a few things you should keep in mind if you are changing money in Singapore:
- There is no limit to the amount of money you can bring into Singapore, however if you're bringing $20,000SGD, it should be declared on arrival.
- Make yourself aware of what the exchange rate is before you make an exchange. This will help you get a fair exchange and make you aware of the fees they're charging you.
- While there are places in Singapore that allow you to exchange currency, it's a good idea to try and avoid such as international hotels and airports. You'll usually find it is expensive to do it in those places.
- Make sure you carefully count the cash you exchange, and make sure you get the correct amount in return.
- Use our currency converter to find out what the current rate is between the AUD and SGD.
Using credit and debit cards in Singapore
Most places in Singapore will allow you to pay with card. Here is some information if you would like to try and use card:
- Firstly, if you're using your card overseas it's really important you let your bank know so they don't suspect fraudulent activity.
- Be careful of overseas ATM fees and currency conversion fees when you're making purchases and withdrawals.
- There may be surcharges with certain merchants for some companies, so make sure you check with them.
- Bankwest Platinum Card and 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard are examples of credit card accounts which waive the fee for currency conversion
- Citibank Plus Everyday Account has a debit card that isn't charged international ATM or transaction fees, and gives you the interbank rate for the exchange.
A couple of important things:
- If you're using your Australian card in Singapore, make sure you're opting to be charged in SGD when you check out. You will generally be offered a very poor exchange rate if you opt to pay in AUD, so it's better to let your financial institution do the conversion.
- To find out the best travel cards to use in Singapore, read our article here.
ATMs in Singapore
There are International ATMs throughout Singapore that will let you use your Australian cards, and they can be an easy way for you to withdraw cash while you're there.
Keep in mind that there are a few fees you'll probably be charged. Most banks will charge a foreign transaction fee if you're using your Australian debit card. And you might find there is an ATM access fee.
This means that if you are withdrawing cash from ATMs, plan ahead if you can. Instead of making multiple withdrawals, try and withdraw everything you need and minimise the times you do it.
There are some banks in Australia that let you withdraw money free of charge when you're overseas. Citibank and ING do this. If you travel frequently, it could be worth looking into opening an account with a bank in Singapore.
ATM TIP: always choose to withdraw in Singapore Dollars (SGD) to get the 'mid-market rate' which is the best exchange rate you can possibly get.
Banks in Singapore
Let's have a look at banking in Singapore. There are a number of banks available throughout the country, both local and international branches. You can use these banks to exchange currency, but will probably find better rates if you go to a designated money exchanger.
You will generally find Singaporean banks open between 10am and 6pm, Monday to Friday. Before you leave Australia it is worth asking your local bank if they have a partnership with a bank in Singapore. You may find you can use their ATMs free of charge and avoid having to pay transaction fees!
The main banks in Singapore are:
Thinking of using travellers cheques in Singapore? Don't.
Travellers cheques are pretty outdated now, and it is rare to find places that will cash them. Having said that, if you already have some or are thinking of getting some for your trip to Singapore, here are some important things to keep in mind:
- They're expensive, and it's rare that the rates offered are competitive.
- They're inconvenient because they are not accepted in most places, and it's hard to find a bank that will cash them.
- The main advantage of traveller’s cheques is they can be replaced if they’re lost or stolen, and only you can cash them. But all travel cards will generally have provisions for this as well if you don't want to carry cash.
- We would suggest only using them if you really, really have to.