How to get the best exchange rate when sending money overseas
You can get a better exchange rate with a specialist money transfer service compared to the banks.
If you use specialist international money transfer services, there’s a good chance that you’re already getting the best possible exchange range. However, if you’re still using your bank, you may be getting ripped off.
Compare international money transfer companies and products below. You can use the table headings to sort through features and fees to select a suitable product for you. If you want to find out more about a product, simply click the ‘More’ link, or if you want to open an account, click ‘Go to Site’.
Instantly compare Singapore’s best exchange rates
The offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of products finder Singapore has access to track details from, and is not representative of all the products available in the market. Products are displayed in no particular order or ranking. The use of terms “Best” and “Top” are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider both seeking independent financial advice and personal financial circumstances when comparing products.
Definition: Best exchange rate
There is no single best exchange rate, and the best exchange rate for you may not be the best for someone else. This is because there are other factors to consider when sending an international money transfer in addition to the exchange rate, including the transfer fees, the payment method, the speed of delivery and the level of customer service. One person may need to transfer money within 24 hours, while others may have no time frame, which may affect the exchange rate. Exchange rates are also affected by wider economic factors. Previous performance isn’t an indication of future performance. You should consider a range of products when deciding which provider is most suited to your personal money transfer needs.
How do I get the best exchange rate?
Here are some tips to ensure you get the best deal on fees and exchange rates when transferring money:
- Find out what the current rates are. You should have a reliable baseline to compare the rates offered by money transfer companies and banks. Two well-known currency conversion resources are XE and Oanda. These are free tools you can use to check live conversion rates, and both feature currency conversion calculators.
- Compare by asking for a quote. Getting the best exchange rate can be difficult because money transfer services can charge high fees but offer competitive rates. This means that sometimes it’s a good idea to request a quote, and then compare that to quotes from other providers.
- Ensure you’re comparing between the most accurate rates. Until you register with a money transfer service, you’re more than likely to see their indicative exchange rates instead of the most accurate rates available. If you choose not to compare quotes like the above point suggests, ensure that you compare the exchange rate you’ll receive from the provider, which will usually require you to register with a service or make a call.
- Utilise forward contracts. A forward contract basically allows you to lock in an exchange rate for a transfer which will take place in the future. In most cases you can lock in a rate for up to 12 months in advance, saving you from receiving a poor rate when you make a money transfer in the future. Not all transfer companies will allow you to use a forward contract, so remember to consider this factor during comparison. Forward contracts can sometimes only be offered for larger transfer amounts, but this depends on the transfer service.
- Consider a market order. A market order, also known as a limit order, allows you to choose a favourable rate, and then instructs your money transfer company to buy or sell your chosen currencies only once that rate is available. Like a forward contract, some money transfer companies will only offer these for larger transfer amounts.
- Consider a multi-currency bank account. If you regularly deal in currencies, be it due to international businesses or personal reasons, a multi-currency bank account may be a good idea. Also known as a foreign currency account, they allow you to hold different currencies and convert them into SGD whenever you want. This means you can avoid short-term rate fluctuations from harming your balance.
- Carry out one large transfer rather than several smaller transfers. If you’re looking to send a large amount of money, try to send it as one rather than in smaller batches. Many transfer companies can offer better rates, and lower fees for large transfers.
finder’s best exchange rates
Rates recorded on 27 October 2017. Please source quotes for current rates.
Getting the best rate when travelling overseas
If you’re travelling to a country and looking for tips on receiving the best exchange rate, here are some things to consider:
- Avoid busy areas and airports. Unless you’re organising a currency pickup, with companies such as Travelex, these areas tend to provide poor exchange rates. Other money exchangers in malls, or within the city may offer more competitive rates.
- Exchange in the country you’re travelling to. While you should exchange a small amount before you leave your home country to ensure you have sufficient cash to get you from the airport to your hotel, save the majority of your currency exchange until when you get into the country if possible. Once you touch down, avoid the airport and tourist destinations when looking for a currency exchange provider.
- Consider an international debit, credit or travel card. Some of these cards are offered by major banks and offer 24/7 support, and base off exchange rates by Visa and Mastercard, which can be competitive. Read more about these options below.
- Avoid exchanging at a restaurant or hotel. These locations can offer convenient, on-the-fly currency conversion but unfortunately, might not offer the most competitive rate.
- Avoid purchasing in your own currency. Some retailers will offer you the option of paying in your home currency, and will then convert the funds themselves. This can be tricky if you don’t have a currency calculator on hand, meaning you might lose out on the exchange.
Definition: Exchange Rate
An exchange rate is a way of showing the value of one currency compared to another. Exchange rates are impacted on by the supply and demand of a currency, a country’s inflation, trade between two countries and more, so rates can fluctuate throughout the course of a day. Indirectly, exchange rates dictate the costs of many day-to-day items you buy, which are either purchased from overseas or made using imported materials. Directly, you’ll come across exchange rates when travelling overseas, purchasing goods from overseas, or sending funds overseas. This guide will explain how to get the best exchange rate available when sending money overseas.
Where can I exchange money?
The answer to this question depends on the reason for your exchange. If you’re looking to convert money to send it overseas, some of these providers won’t be the best option for you.
- Money transfer companies. These are specialist currency exchange and money transfer companies, and can therefore offer competitive exchange rates and low fees. Many of them also offer an extensive range of services such as forward contracts and market orders.
- Walk-in kiosks, banks, post offices. These are the most common currency exchange and money transfer destinations for many Singaporeans. Some of them, such as Western Union and MoneyGram can offer competitive deals for sending money overseas or converting money depending on the service.
- Credit cards, debit cards and travel cards. Apart from travel money cards, these will exchange your funds from SGD to the currency of your choice instantly using the applicable exchange rate. For some cards, this conversion will be based on Visa or Mastercard rate, which by itself isn’t uncompetitive, but if you’ll pay a transaction fee or ATM withdrawal fee for the transaction, the overall service may become expensive. Travel cards will allow you to transfer funds onto your card at the exchange rate set by the card provider. This allows you to avoid exchange rate fluctuations.
Comparing exchange rates
Below is a comparison of the advertised rates for three different money transfer companies. As mentioned above, whenever you carry out a comparison, be sure to get an accurate quote from the provider rather than using the advertised rates, as the two may be different.
|Fee to sender||$0||$0||SGD$25|
The above rates and fees are correct on 27 October 2017. Always source a quote for accurate, current day rates.
Only applicable for online money transfer to Australia, China, Eurozone countries, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, UK and USA.
As you can see, the best offer in this comparison was offered by OFX, which had no transfer fee. This comparison doesn’t take into account transfer speed, which may be an issue for you. It also doesn’t take into account transfer methods, for example sending money to be picked up in cash by your recipient.
Q&A: Finding the best rate
Where can I find up-to-date foreign exchange rates?
As mentioned above, you can check sites such as XE or Oanda to find out up-to-date exchange rates. Also remember that banks and money transfer companies will publish their own exchange rates.
Does my income need to be converted into Singapore dollars for my tax return?
Yes, all foreign income needs to be translated into Singapore dollars when filling out your tax return.
Why are bank exchange rates not as competitive as money transfer service companies?
This is because money transfer companies specialise in foreign currency transactions and deal in large amounts, giving them additional savings that they can in turn pass on to consumers.
How will a money transfer or currency exchange service make money from me?
These services will profit from your transaction in two ways. One is through adding a margin to your exchange rate, and the other is by charging you a transfer fee. Some services will do both.
This article discusses how to get best exchange rates while sending money overseas. The use of the term “Best” does not refer to product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. Exchange rates mentioned in this article are validated at the time of publishing and may vary with time.