Over fifteen million international visitors arrive in Singapore every year - three times the number of permanent residents of the city-state.
From its roots as a colonial trading post, Singapore has grown to be a th/riving economic hub that draws in tourists, travellers and entrepreneurs from all around the world. With a vibrant mix of nationalities and cultures, you’re going to love this truly global city.
But whether you’re in Singapore for business or pleasure, a quick trip or a permanent move, you’ll be needing some cash.
Use this guide to avoid the rip-offs and find the best places to exchange your cash into Singapore dollars.
Though it can be tempting to choose a service offering ‘Zero Commission!’, don’t fall for it. You’ll want to keep a few things in mind before you exchange for SGD.
- Research the mid-market exchange rate ahead of time. Know the true value of your home currency before you commit to a service.
- Compare the exchange rate you’re offered with the real rate by using an online currency converter. Make sure the deal is truly fair.
- If you are able, avoid exchanging your money in or around airports and hotels. The deals offered are usually not so great.
- ATMs are a good option. Check with your local bank to see if they have any partnerships with banks operating in Singapore. Using those ATMs could save you a lot in charges.
- Don’t let foreign ATMs do any conversion for you. Choose to be charged in the local currency (SGD).
The mid-market rate is the ‘real’ exchange rate that banks use to trade money between themselves and it’s the same one you’ll find on Google. Retail exchange rates include bank markups and fees (hidden or declared). Look for the retail rate closest to the mid-market, in order to get a good deal.
Before you go off to finding the best deal in town, use a currency converter online (enter your home currency on the left and SGD on the right) to find the real rate. Though the market is constantly fluctuating, you can use that rate as your benchmark of fairness when you shop around town.
Chiangi Airport has a dozen money changers, but with a captive market, airport exchange services tend not to offer the best deals. (The same goes for hotels.) What you gain in convenience, you lose in the rates and fees you pay. Plan ahead and go to one of the money changing shops in town - competition makes for better rates.
A convenient and economical way to exchange money is to use an ATM in Singapore. To get the best deal, ask your home bank if they have any partnerships with local banks in Singapore. If they do, you might be able to withdraw from these ATMs with no additional charges.
Something to watch out for with foreign ATMs are conversion options. When you use an ATM in Singapore, you may be asked if you want to be charged in your home currency. Answer ‘no’ to this one. This option gives the ATM permission to convert at their own rate, which you won’t be shown at the time. You’re likely to get a fairer deal being charged in the local currency. The option could also be presented by asking which bank you’d like to perform the conversion - your home bank or the ATM. Choose your home bank’s rate, which will be the fairer one.
Once you’ve exchanged your money, spend it. This sounds obvious, but if you change cash back to your home currency at the end of your trip, you’ll end up paying conversion charges twice. Buy yourself something nice instead.
Singapore is a real cultural melting pot with lots of visitors and residents looking to exchange different currencies all the time. Certain areas of town (The Arcade at Raffles Place, Lucky Plaza, Mustafa Centre, People’s Park Complex, and Parkway Parade to name a few) are better for changing specific currencies.
If you already have your home currency cash in your pocket, the exchange services listed below should be able to help you. No matter what they advertise, they will still charge for their services with a commission or a one-off fee. Make sure you know what the terms are before you go ahead with the transaction.
Try Arcade Plaza Traders or Arcade Money Changers
The Arcade at Raffles Place is located at 11 Collyer Quay
Arcade Plaza Traders: +65 6227 7660
Arcade Money Changers: +65 6220 7241
Arcade Plaza Traders: No opening hours listed online
Arcade Money Changers: Mon-Fri 9:30a-6:00p, Sat 9:30a-2:30p, Sun closed
24 Raffles Place #20-03 Clifford Centre (pickup only)
11 Collyer Quay #02-01 (cash only)
1 Jurong West Central 2, #B1-03C, Jurong Point Shopping Centre
Clifford Centre: +65-6538 0080
Collyer Quay: +65-62216679
Jurong Point Shopping Centre: +65-62216679
Send general questions for any of the locations to email@example.com
Clifford Centre: Mon-Fri 9:15a-5.00p
Collyer Quay: Mon-Fri 10:00a-6:00p, Sat 10.00a-1:00p
Jurong Point Shopping Centre: 10:00a-9:00p every day
Offering nearly 50 branches around town. Use United Overseas Bank Singapore branch locator to find the closest one to you.
Customer service in Singapore - 1800 222 2121
Many branches are closed on Sundays and holidays, check the branch locations for specific operating hours.
Alternatively - for an even better deal - use TransferWise. If you have a bank account in Singapore, or know someone who does, you can transfer money between accounts using the real mid-market exchange rate. Get the cash you need, for less.