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Singapore Travel Money Guide

The Southeast Asian island of Singapore is found off the southern coast of Malaysia. Known for its ultra-clean streets, lush tropical atmosphere, safety, and huge array of shopping experiences, it makes for a stress-free holiday from Australia. It’s also a popular stop-over for many travelling through to Europe with great international airport connections.

Along with Singapore’s cleanliness and order come high standards of living, and higher prices than many of its Southeast Asian neighbours. Planning on going to Singapore for a holiday? Read on to discover all there is to prepare your finances before you fly.

The Low Down on Singapore Currency

  • Currency: Singapore dollar
  • Currency code: SGD
  • Central Bank: Monetary Authority of Singapore
  • Currency symbol: S$
  • Currency sub unit: cents
  • Bank notes: S$2, S$5, S$10, S$20, S$50, S$100, S$1,000
  • Coins: 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents, S$1


Singapore’s official currency is the Singaporean Dollar (SGD).

This has been the currency of Singapore since the nation became independent from Malaysia in 1965. You may also hear it referred to as the “sing-dollar” or the “sing”.

The Brunei Dollar (BND) is also considered legal tender in Singapore, operating on a 1:1 exchange rate with the Singaporean Dollar.

Payment Options in Singapore

A highly modernised country, finding ATMs and paying by card is easy to do in Singapore at most major stores. That said, cash is still needed for some experiences. This includes eating food in Singapore’s famous hawker centres, making small purchases, and paying for some taxis. Read on to discover the pros and cons of major travel money options in Singapore.

Whatever payment method you decide on before you depart for Singapore, it’s best to ensure you have a mix of both cards and cash on your travels to cover all your bases. We’ve rounded up the pros and cons of each below.

Cash is always handy in Singapore, with small purchases, some taxis, and the world-famous hawker centres usually being cash-only. Known as a super-safe destination, carrying larger amounts of cash around with you should not be dangerous, however always follow your common sense when doing so, as low crime does not mean no crime!

Why foreign cash?

  • Crime rates in Singapore are very low4, as such it is relatively safe to carry cash around with you.
  • Some famous Singaporean attractions like Hawker Centres are cash only.
  • Cash is flexible and can be used anywhere, with no hidden fees.


Things to consider:

  • Even in low crime areas, carrying large amounts of cash around with you can be risky.
  • If your cash is lost or stolen you may have a limited amount of protection with your travel insurance.

Travel Money Cards allow you to lock in a rate at the time of exchange, meaning you can save money in the long-run. Opting for a backup card means you’re also covered in case of loss or theft. However, some Singaporean experiences are cash only, meaning it is recommended that you keep some Sing Dollars handy for that Nasi Lemak hawker dish!

Discover how you can explore Singapore with ease with our 5* award-winning Travelex Money Card!

Why prepaid travel card?

  • Cards are widely accepted in Singapore making paying with a travel card easy.
  • Prepaid travel cards can save you money in the long run, as you’re able to lock-in your exchange rate prior to departure*.
  • Choosing the option to get a backup card means you are covered if your main card is lost or stolen.

Things to consider:

  • Travel cards may not have your name printed on them. This can be a problem if merchants want to see some ID.
  • There may be hidden fees by the issuer and also topping up the card may bring a fee.

Taking your own credit or debit card is an easy travel money option in Singapore, as ATMs and card payment facilities are plentiful. Remember though that there are often hidden fees and charges when using foreign cards, so check with your bank before you leave to see if they have any mutual agreements with Singaporean banks.

Why debit or credit card?

  • All major credit and debit cards are widely accepted in Singapore.
  • Some Singaporean banks will have arrangement with Australian banks and as such charge no operating fees. For example, Singaporean bank DBS has an agreement with Westpac, meaning low or no fees when withdrawing with a Westpac card (5).

Things to consider:

  • Some Singaporean experiences can be paid for in cash only. This includes many food vendors and some taxis.
  • It is easy to overspend when paying using bank cards.
  • You may be left in a pickle if your cards are lost or stolen. Ensure you keep photocopies of your cards and have a financial backup.

Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are located all over the country. They can be easily found in banks, MRT station, shopping centers and on main shopping streets. Most machines allow Visa or Mastercard withdrawals, but watch out for any hidden fees associated with withdrawing cash from a foreign card.

Why withdraw cash in Singapore?

  • ATMs can be easily found all around Singapore.
  • Generally, ATMs in Singapore won’t charge an operator fee.
  • You can withdraw cash as you need it without carrying a large amount around.

Things to consider:

  • Some banks will charge a fee when using a foreign card to make foreign currency transactions in store5.
  • It is easy to lose track of spending when you use your card.

FX ATMs are a very convenient way of exchanging cash last minute whilst still in Australia, before you depart from the airport. However, not all FX ATMS will dispense Singaporean dollars, so make sure you check the Travelex site for a full list of ATM locations and the currencies they provide.

Why use Travelex ATMs in Australia:

  • FX ATMs are an easy stress-free way to get cash at the airport before leaving Australia. Find out if there is a Travelex Foreign Currency ATM dispensing Singaporean Dollar before you fly.
  • There are no forms to fill in, the process is self-serve, and ATMs operate for 24 hours.

Things to consider:

  • There may not be an FX ATM dispensing Singaporean Dollars at the airport you depart from.
  • Carrying large amounts of cash with you may be stressful.

Tax free shopping in Singapore

One of the most popular activities for tourists in Singapore is the shopping. The city is made up of a maze of malls, which offer comfort from the heat, and shelter from the monsoon rains. When shopping in Singapore, the 7% Goods and Services Tax can be refunded at the International airport in Singapore before you return home, making shopping on your holiday in Singapore even more appealing.

To be eligible, no more than $500 SGD (AUD$520) in taxes may be refunded per person, and items must have been purchased in Singapore within the last two months. The tax will not be refunded if you’re leaving Singapore by land or cruise ship3.

Tax free shopping in Singapore
How to Claim your Tax Back After Shopping in Singapore

How to Claim your Tax Back After Shopping in Singapore

When making an eTRS purchase, you will be asked to specify a single bank card that will serve as your token for tax-free purchases. This card will be used in the refund process.

When shopping

When shopping, look for stores with a blue “blue "Tax-Free Shopping" or "Premier Tax-Free" sticker on the window or counter. You must spend up to $100 SGD worth of goods. The merchant will give you a eTRS ticket to use to redeem your refund.

Claiming at the Airport

When you arrive at the airport, head to the eTRS self-help kiosks, which can be found both before and after check-in. You will be asked to swipe your passport and your token card and refund tickets. You can choose to receive the refund in cash, or on card. You will receive a print out from the kiosk with your refund details.

You can claim your GST refunds in multiple places around Changi Airport. Once you have received your print-out from the kiosk, take it along with your receipts and the goods purchased to get your refund from the counter.

Travelex Tip: If you are planning a shopping trip to Singapore, check out the Great Singapore Sale in June. This is an island-wide, month-long sale where prices are slashed up to 70%, and shopping hours extended2.

Good to Know - Singapore Money Tips

Tipping is not usually customary in Singapore. Tips in Singapore are usually included as a service charge on restaurant receipts.

Taxis may charge a surcharge during busy periods in Singapore. You can expect a 50% surcharge after midnight until 6am, and a 25% surcharge in peak times.8

To save money while getting around town, it’s worth getting an ezLink card for public transport. This contactless card payment can be bought and topped up in MRT Stations and 7-Eleven stores. A three day pass costs around 20 Singapore dollars. If you don’t use all the money you put on your card, it can be refunded!9, 10

As Singapore is such a multicultural place, you’ll find that most ATMs offer a variety of language options including Chinese.

Good to Know - Singapore Money Tips

FAQ about money in Singapore

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  • Can I use other currencies in Singapore?

    Other than Singaporean Dollars and the Brunei Dollar (BND), no other currency is accepted in Singapore as legal tender.

  • Will my bank card work in Singapore with only a 4 digit pin?

    While most Singaporean cards are issued with a 6 digit pin, if you have a foreign card that requires a shorter pin, it should be accepted without a problem.

  • Can I use travellers cheques in Singapore?

    Whilst it is becoming harder to find places to cash travellers cheques in Singapore, it is still possible. However, a combination of cash and card is recommended.

Disclaimer

* Lock in your exchange rates means the exchange rate is locked in for the initial load only. The exchange rates for subsequent reloads will be set at the prevailing exchange rate at the time of the transaction

^This data is sourced from www.numbeo.com7 and is meant as a guide only. Costs of items may differ around the destination.

Sources:
1. https://www.tripsavvy.com/change-and-use-money-in-singapore-1629786
2. https://www.tripsavvy.com/short-guide-to-shopping-in-singapore-1629784
3. https://www.tripsavvy.com/tax-free-shopping-in-singapore-1629787
4. https://coconuts.co/singapore/news/singapore-ranked-safest-country-world
5. https://transferwise.com/au/blog/atms-in-singapore
6. https://www.internations.org/go/moving-to-singapore/banks-taxes/currency-in-singapore
7. https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?country1=Australia&country2=Singapore&city1=Melbourne&city2=Singapore&tracking=getDispatchComparison
8. https://www.taxisingapore.com/taxi-fare/
9. https://transferwise.com/gb/blog/atms-in-singapore
10. https://www.ezlink.com.sg