How To Activate Your Credit Card For Overseas Use

Alevin Chan

Alevin Chan

Last updated 18 October, 2023

Activating your credit card for overseas use is simple and straightforward. Here’s what’s really going on when you activate your card, and why it’s important to deactivate your card once you get back home. 

If you’re familiar with credit cards, you’re probably aware that you can “activate your credit card for overseas use”. But what does that mean, actually? 

And what about mobile wallet payments, where you link your credit card to your mobile phone and/or smartwatch, which enables you to pay for your pumpkin spice latte? 

Also, how does deactivating your credit card for overseas use when in Singapore protect you?

We’ll be demystifying all these and more in this article, so let’s get started!

 

Table of contents


What happens when I activate/deactivate my credit card for overseas use?

Before we answer this question, it’s important to break down what’s going on behind the scenes. 

Simply put, your credit card has three functions that you can make use of while overseas, namely:

  • Withdraw foreign currency from an ATM 
  • Swipe your credit card to make payments
  • Insert or tap your credit card to carry out Point-of-Sale (POS) transactions

There is a difference in the way these three functions are carried out. 

The first two rely on the magnetic stripe that is on your credit card. It’s the tape-like strip on the back of your card, and it contains information that is read when you insert the card into an ATM machine, or when you swipe the card at a POS terminal. 

In contrast, the third payment method functions through the EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) chip embedded in your credit card. That is the shiny, metallic bit in what would otherwise be an all-plastic card. 

You may have seen TikTok videos where someone rips out the EMV chip and puts it onto a ring or something, and successfully making payments with it. Well, that’s because the EMV chip is really the only thing you need for contactless payments, and having it on your credit card is simply the logical choice. 

So, to sum up, your credit card is basically made up of two important components: the magnetic strip, and the EMV chip. Guess which one you’re affecting when you “activate/deactivate” your credit card for overseas use. 

Yep, it’s the magnetic stripe. 

In essence, what you’re really doing is controlling the ability of your credit card to be used for ATM withdrawals and POS transactions – actions that require physical possession of the card. Logically, you should only want to enable these functions when you might need to use them, i.e., when you’re overseas. 

 


How does deactivating my credit card’s magnetic stripe help protect me?

Now, the danger here is that the information on your magnetic strip can be easily copied with the right equipment. They are, afterall, just magnetic signals. 

So prevalent was this tactic that credit card cloning (or “skimming”) had historically been the leading cause of credit card fraud. In fact, card skimming is still prevalent today, which explains the proliferation of anti-skimming devices attached to our local ATMs that you’ve surely come across. 

Still, card skimming remains a threat – as much as US$ 28.65 billion is lost to card skimmers worldwide each year, with US$38.5 billion projected to be lost in 2023. 

Ok, so if swiping your card at a compromised ATM or POS device is how criminals clone your credit card, how does deactivating your card protect you in Singapore? Well, it does so after the fact. 

When you “deactivate” your credit card, you’re not erasing the magnetic stripe or making it unreadable – otherwise you won’t be able to use your card at your neighbourhood ATM anymore. Instead, you’re telling your bank to void any magnetic strip transactions from your card originating overseas. 

Let’s say, you swipe your credit card to pay for dinner to thank your hosts on the last night of your holiday. The restaurant clones your card without your knowledge, maybe to sell your credit card information on the internet. 

When you get home, you immediately deactivate your credit card’s magnetic stripe. Two days later, someone in another country tries to use your credit card to illegally purchase gift cards. 

However, your bank recognises that as an invalid transaction (since you have deactivated your magnetic stripe), and immediately blocks the transaction.

This isn’t just hypothetical. I basically had the same thing happen to one of my credit cards, which I had used overseas but neglected to deactivate it once I came home. Several weeks later, I got an SMS for around US$100++ worth of Google gift cards. I immediately reported the transaction, and the bank decided in my favour, reversing the transaction and replacing my card. 

I was lucky – banks are not obligated to reverse or void every and all transactions just because you claim it’s fraudulent. Even scam victims may not get all of their money back, prompting a debate in Parliament not so long ago. 

If I had simply remembered to deactivate my card, I might have saved myself the panic and hassle. 

 


Does deactivating my credit card for overseas use stop me from shopping at e-commerce websites in another country?

Thankfully no. E-commerce sites and online payment networks make use of other security features of your credit card, such as two-factor authentication. 

Having to enter the 16-digit-long credit card number, and the CVC number, also acts as a way to prove you have ownership of the card.

Back to top

 


How do I activate my credit card for overseas use?

Generally, there are three settings available for your card’s magnetic strip:

  • Disabled 
  • Enabled permanently
  • Enabled for a specified duration

You can choose any of these settings as needed. Those who travel frequently overseas may find it more convenient to leave their credit card’s magnetic strip permanently enabled. 

Meanwhile, leisure travellers who only travel periodically should find the third option the most useful. You can set the activation and deactivation dates accordingly, such as one day before your trip begins, and one day after it ends. Your card’s magnetic strip will be set accordingly. 

You can activate or deactivate your credit card’s magnetic strip in multiple ways, such as via your mobile banking app, your Internet banking portal, and at your nearest ATM. 

Read also: Instarem’s Amaze Card Review: Is It Still Amazing?

 


Activating a DBS/POSB credit card for overseas use

Using digibank mobile app

  • Log in to digibank Mobile with your Touch/Face ID or digibank User ID & PIN
  • Tap More, under Manage Cards & Loans select Enable/Disable Overseas Use
  • Select the Card you wish to Enable/Disable for Overseas Use
  • Toggle Allow Overseas Use to change the status of your card's overseas function and tap Next
  • Confirm the Details and tap Activate/Deactivate

Using digibank Online

  • Log in to digibank Online with your User ID & PIN and complete the authentication process
  • Select the Card Account from the Card Selection List
  • Amend the status of the overseas function of your Card's Magnetic Stripe to your preference
  • Click Submit followed by Confirm to proceed

DBS/POSB ATM in Singapore

  • Insert your DBS/POSB Card to access your account
  • Key in your PIN
  • Select More Services
  • Select Card’s Magnetic Stripe for Overseas Use
  • Select Continue
  • Amend status of the overseas function of your Card's magnetic stripe to your preference
  • Follow instructions on the ATM screen to complete Submission

DBS/POSB Credit Card Welcome Gift: Receive up to S$388 cashback or 85,000 miles when you apply for select DBS credit cards and fulfil the relevant promotion criteria. T&Cs apply.

 

Back to top


Activating a Citi credit card for overseas use

Using Citi Mobile App

  • Open Citi Mobile app
  • Tap the Profile menu → Under 'Cards & accounts' tap on the card you would like to activate for overseas usage
  • Tap on enable the 'Overseas Use' switch
  • Enter the One Time Pin (OTP) or Citi Mobile Token PIN to proceed
  • Card is activated for overseas usage

Using Citibank Online

  • Visit www.citibank.com.sg via computer/laptop/tablet
  • Click on "LOGIN TO", followed by "Citibank Online"
  • Enter: a. User ID, b. Password
  • Under "Services" > "My Profile", click on "Overseas Card Activation" link and follow the steps on-screen

✨SingSaver Score Big CC Campaign Phase 2✨: Be one of the first applicants to score a rewards upgrade to a PlayStation®5 (Slim) Disc Edition (worth S$799) when you apply for participating products in SingSaver. Limited to the first 600 Citi CC & first 400 SCB Simply Cash CC eligible applicants only. Remaining applicants will enjoy existing rewards. Check out FAQs here. Valid till 30 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

SingSaver's Exclusive Offer: Receive the following rewards and experience Fastest Rewards Fulfilment when you sign up for a Citi Credit Card:

📣ONLY AVAILABLE ON SINGSAVER📣: Citi PremierMiles Card and Citi Prestige Card:

Get a Dyson Supersonic (worth S$699) or a Dyson Micro 1.5kg Vacuum (worth S$599) or an Apple iPad 10th Gen 10.9 WiFi 64GB (worth S$529) or S$450 eCapitaVoucher upon activating and spending a minimum of S$500 within 30 days of card approval. Valid until 30 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

Other Citi Credit Cards: Receive a Sony Portable Theatre System HT-AX7 (worth S$759) or a Dyson Supersonic (worth S$699) or an Apple iPad 10th Gen 10.9 wifi 64GB (worth S$529) or S$450 eCapitaVoucher or S$300 cash via PayNow upon activating and spending a minimum of S$500 within 30 days of card approval. Valid until 30 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

Rewards Upgrade Campaign_BLOGARTICLE_800x250

⬆️Reward Upgrade Campaign⬆️: Upgrade your rewards when you top up S$1,200 for an Apple MacBook Air 13” (M3 chip) 256GB (worth S$1,599) or an Apple iPhone 15 Pro 128GB (worth S$1,664.25). Alternatively, top up S$1,786.00 for a Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Titanium Gray 12+512GB 5G (worth S$2,128). Valid till 30 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

 


Activating a Maybank credit card for overseas use

Using Maybank2u SG App

  • Download “Maybank2u SG” from App Store or Google Play
  • Log in by signing up to Maybank2u SG using your Credit or Debit Card details
  • Navigate to your card details and select “Manage Overseas Card Usage” to enable your magnetic stripe, and to enable your overseas cash withdrawal

Using Online Banking

  • LOGIN to www.maybank2u.com.sg (Online Banking)
  • Go to Settings Tab
  • Select Overseas Magnetic Stripe Card activation 
  • Select Overseas Cash Withdrawal

 


Activating a Standard Chartered credit card for overseas use

Using Standard Chartered website

  • Go to Standard Chartered's overseas card usage help page
  • Scroll down and click on the green “Overseas card usage” button
  • Follow the instructions on screen to activate your card

Using SMS

  • SMS AOT Name on Card last four digits of your card number to 75722
  • For example: AOT M H Tan 5432
  • To disable, send an SMS following the same steps as above and replace AOT with DOT
  • SMS to +65 9617 6495 if you are overseas or using an international phone number
  • Setting of date for deactivation can only be done via website

Note that besides these two methods, you can also activate or deactivate your credit card using the SC Mobile app. Download the app, sign in and follow the on-screen prompts to do so. 

Back to top

✨SingSaver Score Big CC Campaign Phase 2✨: Be one of the first applicants to score a rewards upgrade to a PlayStation®5 (Slim) Disc Edition (worth S$799) when you apply for participating products in SingSaver. Limited to the first 600 Citi CC & first 400 SCB Simply Cash CC eligible applicants only. Remaining applicants will enjoy existing rewards. Check out FAQs here. Valid till 30 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

SingSaver's Exclusive Offer: Enjoy the following rewards when you sign up for a Standard Chartered credit card. Eligible for new Standard Chartered cardholders only.

Standard Chartered Simply Cash Credit Card : Receive a Sony HT-AX7 (worth S$769) or a Dyson SSHD (worth S$699) or an Apple iPad 9th Gen 10.2 Wifi 64GB (worth S$508.30) or S$330 cash upon activating and spending min. S$500 within 30 days of card approval. Also, get an additional S$30 e-Capitaland voucher when you make a min. spending of S$800 in your 2nd month. Valid till 30 June 2024. T&Cs apply

Receive an additional S$20 e-Capitaland Voucher when you split the payment for your purchases with SCB Easy Pay, pay your bills with SCB Easybill or put any of your purchases on instalment in SCB Savings Account or Current Account within 60 days of approval. Valid till 30 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

Plus, get S$288 cashback when you make a min. spend of S$588 within 1 month of card approval. Valid till 30 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

Rewards Upgrade Campaign_BLOGARTICLE_800x250

⬆️Reward Upgrade Campaign⬆️: Upgrade your rewards when you top up S$799 for an Apple Watch Ultra 2 GPS + Cellular, 49mm (Alpine Loop/Ocean Band/Trail Loop) (worth S$1,210.10). Alternatively, top up S$1,150 for a Macbook Air 13" 256GB M3 (worth S$1,599) or iPhone 15 Pro 128GB (worth S$1,664.25). Valid till 30 June 2024. T&Cs apply.


Standard Chartered Smart Card and Rewards+ Card: Receive a Sony WF-1000XM5 (worth S$429) or a Dyson AM07 (worth S$4590) or a Flujo BEA Ergonomic Office Chair (worth S$509) or up to S$250 cash upon activating and spending min. S$250 within 30 days of card approval. Also, get an additional S$20 e-Capitaland voucher when you make a min. spending of S$800 in your 2nd month. Valid till 30 June 2024.   T&Cs apply.

Receive an additional S$20 e-Capitaland Voucher when you split the payment for your purchases with SCB Easy Pay, pay your bills with SCB Easybill or put any of your purchases on instalment in SCB Savings Account or Current Account within 60 days of approval. Valid till 30 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

Plus, get S$288 cashback when you apply for an SCB Smart Credit Card and make a min. spend of S$588 within 1 month of card approval. Valid till 30 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

Rewards Upgrade Campaign_BLOGARTICLE_800x250

⬆️Reward Upgrade Campaign⬆️: Upgrade your rewards when you top up S$199 for a Flujo Ayla Ergonomic Office Chair (worth S$1,139.00) or a Xiaomi Robot Vacuum X20 UK (worth S$699). Valid till 30 June 2024. T&Cs apply.


Standard Chartered Journey Credit Card Only: Receive up to 60K combined Max Miles (the highest miles rewards on the market) or an Apple AirPods Pro (Gen 2) (worth S$365.70) or up to S$150 cash upon activating your card within 30 days and no minimum spend required. Get the additional miles when you apply with annual fee payment (S$196.20 incl. GST) and make a min. spend of S$3,000 within 2 months of card approval. Valid till 30 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

Also, receive a S$20 e-Capitaland voucher when you make a min. spending of S$800 in your 2nd month. Plus, get an additional S$20 e-Capitaland Voucher when you split the payment for your purchases with SCB Easy Pay, pay your bills with SCB Easybill or put any of your purchases on instalment in SCB Savings Account or Current Account within 60 days of approval. Valid till 30 June 2024. T&Cs apply. 

Rewards Upgrade Campaign_BLOGARTICLE_800x250

⬆️Reward Upgrade Campaign⬆️: Upgrade your rewards when you top up S$199 for a Flujo Ayla Ergonomic Office Chair (worth S$1,139.00) or a Xiaomi Robot Vacuum X20 UK (worth S$699). Valid till 30 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

 


Activating an OCBC credit card for overseas use

As part of OCBC's security measures, you'll need activate your OCBC ATM, debit or credit cards' overseas ATM cash withdrawal or magnetic stripe feature if you wish to use your cards overseas.

How to activate/deactivate overseas ATM cash withdrawal using OCBC Online Banking

  • Log in to OCBC Online Banking with your access code and PIN or SingPass
  • Scroll over “Customer Service” then “Cards” and select “Overseas card usage”
  • Select card to link/delink to account for ATM transactions
  • Select account to link. Tap on the "Next" button to confirm

How to activate/deactivate overseas ATM cash withdrawal using OCBC Digital app

  • Log in to OCBC Digital app​
  • Tap on the menu bar on the top left of the screen​
  • Tap on “Card services”​
  • Select “Manage overseas usage”​
  • Select card to enable/ disable overseas cash withdrawal ​
  • Indicate the period for overseas usage​
  • Tap on the “Next” and “Agree” button ​
  • Tap on the “Submit” button after reviewing the changes​

Using SMS

Send an SMS to 72323, or if overseas, +65 9327 2323 in this format:

To activate

  • ATM<space>NRIC/Passport<space>Last 4 digits of card number<space>start date in DDMMYY<space>end date in DDMMYY<space>activate
  • Example: ATM S7612345X 1234 011216 311216 activate

To deactivate

  • ATM<space>NRIC/Passport<space>Last 4 digits of card number<space>deactivate
  • Example: ATM S7637838X 1234 deactivate

How to activate/deactivate overseas magnetic stripe usage using OCBC Online Banking

  • Login with your OCBC Online Banking Access Code and PIN
  • Select "Customer Service" > "Overseas card use"
  • Key in the OTP (One-Time Password)
  • Under the Overseas Shop purchases column, check/uncheck the box for the relevant card(s)
  • Indicate a start and end date
  • Key in the OTP

How to activate/deactivate overseas magnetic stripe usage using OCBC Digital app

  • Login to mobile banking
  • Tap on the menu bar on the top left of the screen
  • Tap on "Card services" > "Manage overseas card usage"
  • Key in the OTP (One-time Password)
  • Check / uncheck the box under Overseas magnetic stripe transaction for the relevant card(s)
  • Key in the OTP

Note: If you have activated OCBC OneToken, no OTPs will be required. 

 

How to activate/deactivate overseas magnetic stripe usage using SMS

Send an SMS to 72323, or if overseas, +65 9327 2323 in this format:

To activate

  • MAG<space>NRIC/Passport<space>Last 4 digits of card no<space>start date in DDMMYY<space>end date in DDMMYY<space>activate
  • Example: MAG S7612345X 1234 230917 231017 activate

To deactivate

  • MAG<space>NRIC/Passport<space>Last 4 digits of card no<space>deactivate
  • Example: MAG S7612345X 1234 deactivate

Back to top

OCBC_CC_Travel_Bundle_KV2_BLOGARTICLE_800x250

🎫Jay Chou Concert Tickets Giveaway🎫: Apply for an OCBC credit card via SingSaver and get a chance to win a pair of Cat1 Jay Chou Concert tickets for 11 October 2024. Only 4 pairs are up for grabs! No minimum spend required. Applicable to both existing and new OCBC credit card holders. Valid till 14 July 2024. T&Cs apply.

SingSaver's Exclusive Offer: Receive the following rewards when you apply for select OCBC credit cards:

Get a Travel Bundle [Samsonite Volant Spinner 68/25 EXP + Apple AirTag] (worth S$525.40) or an Apple AirPods (Generation 3) with Magsafe Charging Case (worth S$274) or S$220 eCapitaVoucher or S$200 Cash via PayNow when you make a min. spend of S$500 within 30 days of card approval. Available for new OCBC cardholders only. Valid till 31 July 2024. T&Cs apply.

 

Activating an UOB credit card for overseas use

Using UOB TMRW App

  • Download the mobile app and sign in
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to activate or deactivate your credit card

Using online banking

Back to top

UOB Credit Card Welcome Offer: Receive S$350 Cash Credit or up to 50,000 miles when you apply for select UOB credit cards and fulfil the minimum spending requirements. Valid till 30 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

 

Read these next:
Cash Vs Credit Card Vs Multicurrency Card For Travelling Overseas
10 Overseas Accommodation Safety Tips For Solo Travellers To Follow
Should I Use Credit Cards Overseas to Earn Miles?
Cash VS Multi-Currency Cards: Pros & Cons

An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.

FINANCIAL TIP:

Use a personal loan to consolidate your outstanding debt at a lower interest rate!

Sign up for our newsletter for financial tips, tricks and exclusive information that can be personalised to your preferences!