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The Best Card in Singapore for Travel

by Apoorv Trivedi on
Best card for travel

The Bottom Line

We recommend Amaze by Instarem for all spending overseas and online shopping in foreign currencies. It allows you to charge overseas spend to your existing credit cards, earn rewards as if you’re spending locally and get a much better exchange rate at the same time. And you avoid the hassle of carrying a lot of cash.

This makes it the most cost-effective solution for overseas & FX spending. It also has some great tools for credit card reward junkies.

However it does not work with DBS credit cards and does not allow you to withdraw cash from ATMs overseas. It could also lose the ability to earn rewards on other cards in future.

If that’s a deal breaker for you, we recommend YouTrip.

It gives a great exchange rate (even better than Amaze) for overseas spend and is accepted everywhere Mastercard is. YouTrip charges S$5 for ATM withdrawals of any amount and has an annual spend cap of S$30K.

Our pick - Amaze by Instarem
Amaze by Instarem
Best rates but not for everyone (or forever)

Amaze is the most cost effective way to spend overseas but does not work with DBS Credit Cards or support ATM withdrawal

Also Great - YouTrip
YouTrip
Great rates but expensive for ATM withdrawals

YouTrip offers great exchange rates but limits annual spend to S$30K and charges $5 per ATM withdrawal


The Research


Who this is for

If you travel for work or leisure (pre-COVID and hopefully now on) you could save money and avoid a lot of hassle by using one of these travel cards offered by FinTech companies.

These cards can also be used if you do a lot of your shopping online on websites that charge in a foreign currency (FX) e.g. Amazon US.

These cards give better exchange rates without needing to queue up at money changers, reduce the need to carry a lot of cash with you when traveling and can be safer as well.

Amaze and Revolut also offer additional features that can be quite useful while spending in Singapore. See here and here.


Why you should trust us

We spent 10s of hours researching the features of these cards, testing the apps, looking at customer feedback and ratings on the internet and interacting with their customer service.

We also signed up for most of them, did live transactions to test the rates given vs. the quoted rates, ease of use and the analytics features. We will continue to test these apps as we travel and use the other functionality.


How we tested and picked

The travel cards we reviewed here are all relatively new products offered by FinTech startups / companies, some of whom may not be profitable yet. These companies continue to experiment with product features and pricing to see what works.

As a result the products are all very different and we did not find any one product that solved all pain points of travel.

Still, each of them can significantly improve your experience and reduce your costs and we think everyone should get at least one.

Exchange Rate We compared the all-in exchange rates offered by these cards and compared the cost to what you would get using a regular credit card or exchanging cash at a money changer to take with you.

Most of these cards give a very competitive exchange rate when you use them overseas or online. Some, like Wise, charge a fee per transaction but even including that the effective exchange rate is much better than what you would get using your credit card.

This is because most banks in Singapore charge a fee of 2.8 – 3.5% for FX transactions on cards. This fee is applied to the exchange rate offered by the network (either Visa or Mastercard), which is usually very close to the interbank rate.

In comparison, we found most travel cards offer either the rate offered by the network or an interbank rate based on the financial feeds they get from banks.

In our testing the spread over the mid-market rate was less than 0.1%, which we think is within the margin of error since our testing was manual.

Table 1: Exchange Rate Spread Charged

  Spread Fee All-in Spread
Amaze 0.2%+ -0.2% to -5%* ~0% to -4.8%
YouTrip ~0% 0% ~0%
Revolut** ~0% 0% ~0%
Wise ~0% 0.5% 0.5%
Credit Cards ~0% 2.8% to 3.5% 2.8% to 3.5%
* Includes the value of credit card rewards earned
** Up to S$5,000 spend in the free subscription plan, 1% spread on weekend transactions

Revolut charges a 0.5% fee only if you exceed the monthly limit of your plan (S$5,000 for the free plan).  Their exchange rate is effectively identical to the mid-market rate within the limit.

However they charge a 1% or so spread for transactions done over the weekend.

Wise Card charges a fee averaging about 0.5% on every transaction. Their exchange rate is effectively identical to the mid-market rate.

We couldn’t find any mention of the policy for weekend transactions on their website but we would not be surprised if there is a higher spread on weekends.

YouTrip offers the wholesale rate set by its network, Mastercard.

Mastercard appears to update the exchange rate for common currency pairs quite frequently. For less common pairs, the rate maybe only updated every few hours or even daily.

This means the spread vs. a live mid-market rate can vary a lot but on the whole you should end up close to the mid-market rate in most cases and over time. But for a specific transaction the rate could be a lot better or worse.

YouTrip also does not mention the policy for weekend transactions. We tested a few weekend transactions on the Mastercard website and did not see a noticeably higher spread on weekends.

Amaze (by Instarem) appears to charge a slightly higher spread than the others – around 0.2% for USD in our testing, possibly higher for many other currencies.

However they do not show the exchange rate until after the transaction is done so we were only able to test a couple of transactions. We will update this as we collect more data.

Even then, Amaze’s spread is a lot lower than the 3%-ish charged by the banks.

More importantly, Amaze is different from rest of the cards.

It is not a wallet like the others, where you store value (from your bank or credit card) and then spend from the wallet.

You simply link your existing credit cards to Amaze app & card and choose the credit card to be used for any transaction. Amaze converts your FX transaction into a SGD transaction at a great exchange rate and passes it to your credit card as a local online transaction.

This means you can earn rewards on your credit cards just as you would if you were using it in Singapore.

Since Amaze also passes the Merchant Category Code (MCC) for each transaction to the bank, you also earn the enhanced rewards that your card may give for categories like Dining or Travel.

And since these rewards usually range from 0.3% to 5%+, adjusting for those, you are likely to effectively get a better than market rate with Amaze.

In fact, Amaze also offers its own reward points in addition to credit card rewards, which further improves your exchange rate. However the value of these points has been changing continuously and is quite uncertain. We did not include this in our analysis.

There is one big exception here – all DBS credit cards do not give any rewards for spending via Amaze.

So if you use Amaze with a DBS card, you still get a much better rate than what DBS would give you but you miss out on the full potential of the Amaze card. You could also get a better rate with another card in that case.

DBS has only recently stopped giving rewards for Amaze transactions and it is quite possible that other banks will also stop doing so in future.

But till that time, Amaze with a non-DBS credit card gives you the cheapest effective exchange rate for FX transactions online or while traveling.

Spending Limits Many of these cards have limits on how much you can spend / store on them and how much cash you can withdraw. Some of these are hard limits, usually for regulatory reasons while others lead to a fee on additional transactions.

Table 2: Spending and Stored Value Limits

  Stored Value Limit Spending Limit
Amaze NA Sum of credit limit on all linked credit cards
YouTrip S$5,000 S$30,000 per year
Revolut S$5,000 S$5,000 with no fee, unlimited with 0.5% fee
Wise S$5,000 S$17,500 per day and S$52,500 per month
Credit Cards NA Subject to Bank and your income
* Withdrawing cash using a credit card results in a cash advance, which is a loan with high fee and interest rate

Under the Payment Services Act (PSA), the wallets are only allowed to hold a maximum of S$5,000 in each account. So all three wallets (Revolut, YouTrip and Wise) have this restriction. However you can spend more than S$5,000 in a day by topping up the wallet multiple times.

Amaze is not a wallet and does not have this restriction. Your ability to spend using Amaze is a sum of the credit limits on all the credit cards you link to Amaze. Outside of that Amaze does not have any daily/ monthly/ annual spending cap.

Cash Withdrawal Limits While it is increasingly possible to travel to many countries in a cashless manner, you may still want to have access to some local cash just in case. Some other countries still use a lot of cash.

Using your Banks debit card can be quite expensive as banks charge 2-3% of the withdrawal value plus another $5-7 for each ATM withdrawal. The local bank in destination country may charge more fees on top.

Table 3: ATM Withdrawal Limit

  ATM Withdrawal Limit ATM Withdrawal Fee
Amaze 0* NA
YouTrip S$5,000 per day S$5 per withdrawal
Revolut S$350 per month 2% fee on any withdrawal above S$350
Wise S$350 per month in up to 2 transactions 1.75% fee on withdrawals above S$350 and S$1.5 per withdrawal for more than 2 withdrawals a month
Credit Cards 0* NA
* Withdrawing cash using a credit card results in a cash advance, which is a loan with high fee and interest rate

Revolut offers fee free withdrawal upto S$350 per month and charged 2% on any withdrawals over that amount.

YouTrip charges a flat S$5 for every ATM withdrawal with a cap of S$5,000 per day.

Wise allows 2 free withdrawals totaling up to S$350 for free. For 3rd withdrawal on you pay S$1.5 and for amounts over S$350, you pay a 1.75% fee.

Amaze does not provide the facility to withdraw cash from ATM for free. Any cash withdrawal using Amaze will be a cash advance i.e. a loan with a stiff fee and high interest rate. For practical purposes, we assume that Amaze does not offer ATM withdrawals.

Table 4: Other Costs

  Physical Card Replacement Card
(Lost Card)
Annual Fee
Amaze Free Free Free
YouTrip Free S$10 Free
Revolut Free First one free, S$9
subsequently
Free
Wise S$10 S$4 Free

Safety Features All these cards offer a number of safety features like the ability to lock the card from your phone if you lose it or don’t plan to use it. They can also send emails / notifications for every transaction and you can review all transactions in the app.

Wise also allows you to choose the spending limits by type of transaction e.g. online, via mobile or with physical card.

Revolut really stood out here with a very interesting feature. On the app you can create single-use credit card. This can be helpful when you are not very familiar / confident with a site or a merchant.

The card details (number, CVV etc.) are unique for that transaction and expire after the single use. That way a even if the site is compromised, the card details cannot be used for another transaction.

Revolut also says that even after the single-use card is expired, it can still accept refunds for that transaction if needed.

Customer Service We spend a fair amount of time combing through the help section in each website / app and where possible chatting with the helpdesk. None of them, except Wise, offer the option of calling the customer service, so chat is your next best option.

We were not able to chat with Wise customer service at all. Every time we tried we got the message that their live chat has been closed as the support team is busy. Email works but is clearly much slower.

On Revolute and Amaze we were able to connect with a live agent reasonably quickly and in most cases we got our questions answered. You can also see your chat history on Revolut but not for Amaze.

Searching on internet we also saw a number of cases where people complained about the difficulty of disputing or cancelling a charge with Amaze. This seems to be a real problem.

The others generally had better reviews.

Acceptance All of these cards work nearly everywhere a credit card is accepted i.e. more than 150 countries. Some of them do restrict access in countries like Afghanistan etc. but otherwise they should all work everywhere.


Our Picks – Amaze & YouTrip

There is no one card that will solve all your travel problems since all of them have some limitations. However you should definitely get one of them if you travel or shop online in other currencies.

Amaze by Instarem will save you the most money as it allows you to earn rewards on your credit cards while paying a much lower spread than what banks would charge. There is no limit on how much you can spend, other than your credit card limits.

However you don’t earn rewards on DBS cards, in which case Amaze is more expensive than others. It also cannot help you get cash from ATMs overseas. There is also a risk that other banks will also stop paying rewards on Amaze transactions, in which case it stops being the cheapest option altogether. Finally, in the rare case that you have a dispute, their customer service does not have great reviews online.

If Amaze does not work for you for any of these reasons, we recommend YouTrip.

It gives great exchange rates and while the S$5 fee for ATM withdrawals is a bummer, you can withdraw up to S$5,000 per day for that fee.

There is no monthly limit on spend and the annual limit of S$30,000 should be enough for a whole lot of travel, especially if you are paying for flights (and maybe the hotels) in SGD.


Amaze in a nutshell

Amaze Card by Instarem allows you link up to 5 of your existing credit cards to the Amaze card and choose which one to use for any transaction. You can use the app and also get a physical card.

If you use Amaze to spend overseas, it gives you a good exchange rate and converts the transaction to a local online transaction on your existing credit card. There are no spending limits other than the limits on your credit cards.

You can also use Amaze to spend in Singapore in which case Amaze simply passes through the transaction to the card of your choice, without any change.

Amaze also passes the Merchant Category Code (MCC) for each transaction to your credit card company. This means even though the transaction is passing through Amaze, if it’s a dining transaction, your credit card will see it as a dining transaction.

So you earn rewards on every transaction as if you were using your credit card. Amaze also shows the spend category (MCC) for each transaction and allows you to filter transactions by category and card.

For credit card reward junkies, this means that you can now optimize your rewards much better by using Amaze. If you credit card offers a special reward or cash back for, lets say, the first S$1,000 on dining every month, earlier you had to keep track of your spend on dining yourself.

Managing all these rules for multiple people was a hassle for everyone except the most dedicated junkie.

Now you can simply connect that card to Amaze, and filter the dining transactions for that card in the app. This means, if you want to, you can easily track spending on 5 cards to maximize your rewards.

However Amaze does have a number of limitations. You do not earn any rewards with DBS cards and it is possible or even likely that eventually other banks will also stop giving rewards on Amaze transactions. UOB for e.g. has already stopped rewards on Amaze transactions marked TRANSIT i.e. for Bus/MRT/Grab etc.

You cannot use Amaze to cheaply withdraw cash from ATMs overseas and in case of disputed transactions, their customer service does not have great reviews.


Revolut in a nutshell

Revolut Card is a wallet that you can fund / top up using your bank account or credit card.

You can then use the physical or virtual card to make payment overseas or online in FX. Revolut gives a great exchange rate and does not charge a fee for these transactions. The fee-free transactions are capped at $5,000 above which you must pay a 0.5% fee. The S$5,000 cap also applies to the amount that can be stored in the wallets at one time.

You can also withdraw up to $350 cash from ATMs overseas without any fee and higher amounts for a fee that’s lower than what banks charge.

Revolut app offers single-use virtual cards for free. You can use these cards to make payments where you are not very confident about the merchant and they expire after that one transaction.

Revolut also offers “Junior” accounts which come with a card of their own and can be used by young children (6-17). You can customize the restrictions on these cards e.g. monthly and per transaction spending limits, restrictions on online payments etc.

Revolut allows you to exchange and store more than 20 currencies in the app for transacting later. For other currencies, the conversion happens on the fly.

Revolut also offers annual subscriptions that have higher limits and more features.


YouTrip in a nutshell

YouTrip is a wallet that you can fund / top up using your bank account or credit card.

You can then use the physical or virtual card to make payments while overseas or online in FX. YouTrip gives you the Mastercard wholesale rate, which tends have nearly zero spread over the market. YouTrip does not charge a fee for these transactions.

YouTrip also has a S$5,000 cap on the amount that can be stored in the wallet at one time and an annual spending cap of S$30,000. They charge S$5 for ATM withdrawals overseas with a daily cap of S$5,000.


Wise in a nutshell

Wise Card is a wallet that you can fund / top up using your bank account or credit card.

You can then use the physical or virtual card to make payments while overseas or online in FX. Wise gives you a great exchange rate on these transactions and charges about 0.50% in fee for every transaction.

While this is a lot better than what you get with a bank credit card, the 0.50% fee is not charged by the other providers and so we did not prefer Wise for travel spending.

Wise is still our preferred pick for money transfers due to great rates, good interface and transparent disclosures.


What about Wirex?

Wirex is also a wallet with many features similar to Revolut, Wise and YouTrip. It also offers the option of using cryptocurrencies to store money in the wallet and make payments.

We did not consider Wirex at this time as they only have a license exempt status from MAS while the other providers are all licensed.

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