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Credit card exchange rates

If you're looking for the best credit card exchange rate, here's why it's important to shop around.

Name Product Foreign Currency Transaction Fee Reward Annual Fee
HSBC Revolution Credit Card
HSBC Revolution Credit Card
2.8%
Earn up to 10X Reward points or 4 miles per $1 spent on qualifying purchases.
$0 annual fee
New cardholders will be awarded with $200 cashback upon $500 minimum spend and up to $150 cashback when you apply for supplementary cards. Existing HSBC credit cardholders are eligible to receive $50 cashback. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 July 2022.
HSBC Visa Platinum Credit Card
HSBC Visa Platinum Credit Card
2.8%
Earn 1 Reward point for every $1 on all spend.
$0 annual fee for the first 2 years and $192.60 thereafter
New cardholders will be awarded with $200 cashback upon $500 minimum spend and up to $150 cashback when you apply for supplementary cards. Existing HSBC credit cardholders are eligible to receive $50 cashback. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 July 2022.
HSBC Advance Credit Card
HSBC Advance Credit Card
2.8%
Receive up to $200 cashback when minimum spend requirements are met.
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year (permanently waived for HSBC Advance banking customers) and $192.60 thereafter
New cardholders will be awarded with $200 cashback upon $500 minimum spend and up to $150 cashback when you apply for supplementary cards. Existing HSBC credit cardholders are eligible to receive $50 cashback. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 July 2022.
American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card
American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card
2.95%
For every $1 spent, earn 1.2 KrisFlyer miles on local purchases, 2 KrisFlyer miles on overseas spend in June and December, Singapore Airlines and KrisShop and 3.2 KrisFlyer miles on Grab.
$337.05 annual fee
Get a complimentary one-night stay at Hilton Singapore Orchard (worth up to $418++) upon annual fee payment, an additional one-night stay at Hilton Singapore Orchard (worth up to $418++) when you spend $3,000 within the first three months. Valid until 30 June 2022. Also, earn 3,600 KrisFlyer miles based on the $3,000 spend above (based on 1.2 KrisFlyer miles per $1 spent locally). T&Cs apply.
American Express Platinum Credit Card
American Express Platinum Credit Card
2.95%
Up to 50% off your food bill for unlimited visits at hotels around Singapore
$321 annual fee
Get a complimentary 1-night stay at Conrad Centennial Singapore (worth up to $300+) with a minimum spend of $3,000 in your first 2 months of card membership, and an additional $100 worth of CapitaVouchers upon annual fee payment. Also, receive 3,750 Membership Rewards points from your base earn rate for the $3,000 spent. T&Cs apply. Valid until 30 June 2022.
American Express True Cashback Card
American Express True Cashback Card
2.95%
Enjoy 1.5% cashback on all purchases with no minimum spend or cap. Plus receive up to $80 CapitaVouchers when a minimum spend of $250 is made in the first month.
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $171.20 thereafter
Apply today and get a 3% Cashback bonus when you spend $5,000 in the first six months.
American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card
American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card
2.95%
For every $1 spent, earn 1.1 KrisFlyer miles on all eligible purchases, 2 KrisFlyer miles in foreign currency spent overseas during June & December and 3.1 KrisFlyer miles on eligible Grab Singapore transactions.
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $176.55 thereafter
Get up to 5,000 KrisFlyer miles with a minimum spend of $1,000 in the first 2 months and an additional complimentary one-night stay at Hilton Singapore Orchard (worth up to S$418++) if you are new to American Express. Valid until 30 June 2022. Also, receive 1,000 KrisFlyer miles based on the $1,000 spending above (based on 1.1 KrisFlyer miles per $1 spent locally). T&Cs apply.
Citi Cash Back+ Credit Card
Citi Cash Back+ Credit Card
up to 3.25%
Get up to 14% fuel discounts at Esso and Shell and 1.6% cash back on eligible retail purchases.
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $192.60 thereafter
Receive 6% cash back (up to $240 cash back) on up to $4,000 spend in the first 3 months. T&Cs apply. Valid until 30 June 2022.
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A credit card or debit card is a necessary convenience nowadays, especially when it’s impractical to carry lots of cash around when you’re travelling. However, there is a price for that convenience, which comes in the form of different costs to be aware of while you spend in another currency.

In this guide, we’ll outline how credit cards convert foreign spending to your billing currency, and how to get the most out of your money when you’re spending overseas or shopping online.

What is an exchange rate?

An exchange rate, also commonly referred to as forex rate or foreign exchange rate, is the value of one country’s currency in relation to another currency. Whenever you want to convert a particular currency into another foreign currency, the conversion will be done on the basis of the prevailing exchange rate. Broadly, the exchange rate differs from currency to currency and fluctuates according to the supply and demand for that particular currency.

How do payment networks make a currency conversion?

If you’re using Mastercard, Visa or American Express, be aware that the foreign currency will be converted first to USD and then to S$. For example, if you purchase a pair of sneakers for ‎30,000 Japanese yen (JPY) on your credit card, your card provider will first convert the amount in JPY to USD before being converted to SGD. Both conversions transfer at the daily exchange rate, plus any fees.

If your transactions were made in United States Dollars (USD), Chinese Yuan (CNY) or Brunei Dollar (BND), UnionPay will convert the amount directly to S$ at the daily exchange rate. For transactions made in any other foreign currencies, UnionPay converts the currency to USD before it is converted to S$. Again, you’ll need to factor in other fees, as we explain below.

What credit card exchange charges should I be aware of?

When you use your credit card overseas or to make purchases online in a foreign currency, the total charge that shows up on your credit card statement is the result of the exchange rate that converts your purchase back to Singapore dollars (SGDs), along with other costs which are applied to the transaction.

Typically, the main costs are as follows:

  • Currency conversion fee. This is the charge set by your card’s payment network such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express, UnionPay, etc. If you use your credit card overseas, you’ll typically be charged around 1% on the converted amount.
  • Administration fee: This is a fee charged by your bank for the service they provide. This is also a percentage of the transacted amount, which typically ranges from 1.5% to 2.5%. Some Singapore credit cards may waive this fee when you make a transaction in foreign currency.
  • Foreign transaction fee. This is an extra charge you must pay when paying for something overseas; making a payment which is processed by a foreign bank; or purchasing something in a non-SGD currency. It’s usually set at about 2.5%–3.5% of your payment. At the time of writing (30th June 2020), all Singapore credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee for overseas payments. However, some card issuers may waive the admin fee.
  • Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC). Sometimes when you’re travelling, establishments will give you the option of paying in the local currency or in Singapore dollars. If you choose to pay in Singapore dollars, the transaction will be processed using Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC). This option usually costs you a great deal more than paying in the local currency. Paying in your billing currency is an expensive practise that may potentially result in additional costs as high as 15%.

What else do I need to consider when using my credit card abroad?

When you’re travelling or shopping online with an international retailer, keep in mind other :

  • Explore alternative travel money options. It’s often useful to have a couple of different ways to spend money when you’re travelling. As well as a credit card, you may want to buy foreign currency before you go in case you end up needing cash when you’re away. Another option is to explore digital wallets or a prepaid card that lets you spend money in different currencies, which would give you another way to avoid foreign transaction fees.
  • Watch out for any other card charges. Overseas ATM withdrawal fees are one cost to be aware of when using your card abroad. Using your card to withdraw cash will also usually leads to higher interest charges at the cash advance interest rate. Read your card’s terms and conditions with care so that you’re aware of all the fees and charges you could face.

Compare credit cards

Name Product Foreign Currency Transaction Fee Reward Annual Fee
HSBC Revolution Credit Card
HSBC Revolution Credit Card
2.8%
Earn up to 10X Reward points or 4 miles per $1 spent on qualifying purchases.
$0 annual fee
New cardholders will be awarded with $200 cashback upon $500 minimum spend and up to $150 cashback when you apply for supplementary cards. Existing HSBC credit cardholders are eligible to receive $50 cashback. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 July 2022.
HSBC Visa Platinum Credit Card
HSBC Visa Platinum Credit Card
2.8%
Earn 1 Reward point for every $1 on all spend.
$0 annual fee for the first 2 years and $192.60 thereafter
New cardholders will be awarded with $200 cashback upon $500 minimum spend and up to $150 cashback when you apply for supplementary cards. Existing HSBC credit cardholders are eligible to receive $50 cashback. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 July 2022.
HSBC Advance Credit Card
HSBC Advance Credit Card
2.8%
Receive up to $200 cashback when minimum spend requirements are met.
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year (permanently waived for HSBC Advance banking customers) and $192.60 thereafter
New cardholders will be awarded with $200 cashback upon $500 minimum spend and up to $150 cashback when you apply for supplementary cards. Existing HSBC credit cardholders are eligible to receive $50 cashback. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 July 2022.
American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card
American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card
2.95%
For every $1 spent, earn 1.2 KrisFlyer miles on local purchases, 2 KrisFlyer miles on overseas spend in June and December, Singapore Airlines and KrisShop and 3.2 KrisFlyer miles on Grab.
$337.05 annual fee
Get a complimentary one-night stay at Hilton Singapore Orchard (worth up to $418++) upon annual fee payment, an additional one-night stay at Hilton Singapore Orchard (worth up to $418++) when you spend $3,000 within the first three months. Valid until 30 June 2022. Also, earn 3,600 KrisFlyer miles based on the $3,000 spend above (based on 1.2 KrisFlyer miles per $1 spent locally). T&Cs apply.
American Express Platinum Credit Card
American Express Platinum Credit Card
2.95%
Up to 50% off your food bill for unlimited visits at hotels around Singapore
$321 annual fee
Get a complimentary 1-night stay at Conrad Centennial Singapore (worth up to $300+) with a minimum spend of $3,000 in your first 2 months of card membership, and an additional $100 worth of CapitaVouchers upon annual fee payment. Also, receive 3,750 Membership Rewards points from your base earn rate for the $3,000 spent. T&Cs apply. Valid until 30 June 2022.
American Express True Cashback Card
American Express True Cashback Card
2.95%
Enjoy 1.5% cashback on all purchases with no minimum spend or cap. Plus receive up to $80 CapitaVouchers when a minimum spend of $250 is made in the first month.
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $171.20 thereafter
Apply today and get a 3% Cashback bonus when you spend $5,000 in the first six months.
American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card
American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card
2.95%
For every $1 spent, earn 1.1 KrisFlyer miles on all eligible purchases, 2 KrisFlyer miles in foreign currency spent overseas during June & December and 3.1 KrisFlyer miles on eligible Grab Singapore transactions.
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $176.55 thereafter
Get up to 5,000 KrisFlyer miles with a minimum spend of $1,000 in the first 2 months and an additional complimentary one-night stay at Hilton Singapore Orchard (worth up to S$418++) if you are new to American Express. Valid until 30 June 2022. Also, receive 1,000 KrisFlyer miles based on the $1,000 spending above (based on 1.1 KrisFlyer miles per $1 spent locally). T&Cs apply.
Citi Cash Back+ Credit Card
Citi Cash Back+ Credit Card
up to 3.25%
Get up to 14% fuel discounts at Esso and Shell and 1.6% cash back on eligible retail purchases.
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $192.60 thereafter
Receive 6% cash back (up to $240 cash back) on up to $4,000 spend in the first 3 months. T&Cs apply. Valid until 30 June 2022.
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Frequently asked questions

Where can I find the prevailing exchange rate for credit card payments?

You can find this information on the website of your card’s payment network provider. For example, Mastercard and Visa both have their own currency conversion calculators.

Which payment network provider is best for international travel and provides the most favourable exchange rates?

As competition is tight between all payment network provider, the difference in exchange rates between them is rather negligible. Most importantly, you should consider a credit card that is widely accepted in the countries you travel more frequently.

Visa and Mastercard are more widely accepted compared to AMEX or UnionPay. Although American Express cards are accepted in a lot of places, you will find a lot of independent boutiques may not accept AMEX outside of the United States. In China, UnionPay is preferred over all the other payment networks.

Should I pay in Singapore dollars when I’m making purchases overseas?

If you’re offered the option to have the amount converted from local currency to Singapore dollars (SGD) through Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) so you can pay in SGD instantly, we’d recommend you pay in local currency instead. Paying in your billing currency (SGD) is an expensive practice and there’s little reason to choose this option.

Is it better to exchange currency or use a credit card?

That’s up to you to decide based on your circumstances. By understanding the different credit card exchange fees, you should be in a better place to make the right financial decision based on how you like to spend.

Don’t forget to factor in any benefits to paying on plastic. For instance, a credit card that rewards you generously for overseas spending could be a good option to think about. For example, a card with a high earn rate of cashback may see you get more back than you spend after you factor in foreign transaction fees and other costs.

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