Ultimate Guide To Digital Multi-Currency Accounts: Revolut vs YouTrip vs Instarem vs Wise vs Wirex (2022)

Yen Joon

Yen Joon

Last updated 30 September, 2022

Disrupting the foreign currency exchange space, digital multi-currency accounts give the notion of 'travelling light' a brand new meaning. 

With more digital multi-currency accounts making their way to Singapore, the days of monitoring exchange rates, deciding on exactly how much money to change and physically visiting a money changer, might just be a thing of the past.

Through a mobile app, you now have the option of exchanging, holding and spending foreign currency, without additional bank charges at your fingertips (quite literally!).

Not to mention, if you love shopping on sites like ASOS, TaoBao or eBay (like us) you could save quite a bit just by transacting in their home currency.

What is a multi-currency account?

A multi-currency account allows you to hold, send, and receive multiple currencies in a single account. Think of it like having a regular bank account that allows you to transact in different currencies.

Generally, there are two types of multi-currency accounts: traditional multi-currency accounts and digital multi-currency accounts. 

Traditional multi-currency accounts are offered by commercial banks like DBS, UOB and HSBC. These accounts work similarly to a regular savings account but will further allow you to hold and transact multiple currencies at a time, with some offering interest rates. 

On the other hand, digital multi-currency accounts are offered by hybrid digital banking solution companies like Wise, YouTrip, Instarem, Revolut and Wirex.

Similarly, these accounts allow you to hold, transact, and withdraw money in multiple currencies, but with lower fees and more favourable exchange rates. Some of these companies also offer additional perks such as cashback.

Compared to banks, a multi-currency account offers better conversion rates, so you’ll save on hefty transaction fees when you make international payments. What’s more, you also can send money internationally almost instantaneously.

For the purpose of this article, we’ll be covering multi-currency accounts offered by hybrid digital banks.

 

How does a digital multi-currency account work?

A multi-currency account works just like a debit card, which you have to put money before spending. The main difference is that you have the option to keep, hold, and spend multiple foreign currencies at the interbank exchange rate, hold, and spend in multiple foreign currencies.

That said, some multi-currency accounts do not have a digital wallet function, so you’ll need to link your debit/credit card to make payments. 

Aside from making payments online, you also have the option to request for a physical card that allows you to pay for items over the counter and withdraw cash at any ATM around the world. This would come in extremely handy if you need cash to make purchases at markets or smaller shops, where cashless transactions are not widely accepted.

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Digital multi-currency accounts available in Singapore

Account Card type
Account opening fee
FX fee Supported currencies Top-up methods
Wise Mastercard Free

S$10 for debit card
From 0.41% 53 Free for bank transfer and PayNow

2.5% for credit card

2.7% for debit card, Apple Pay/Google Pay (based on credit/debit card)
YouTrip Mastercard Free None
10
Free for PayNow

Free for debit/credit card (S$1.5% for Visa credit cards
Instarem Amaze Mastercard Free
None
N.A (no wallet feature)
N.A
Revolut
Visa
Free for Standard

S$9.99/month for Premium

S$19.99/month for Metal
0% to 2% 28 Free for credit/debit cards, bank transfers, and Apple Pay and Google Pay
Wirex Visa Free 0% between Wirex users 11 Free for credit/debit cards and bank transfers 

 

Wise

Formerly known as TransferWise, the UK-based fintech firm allows travellers to avoid high foreign exchange fees when spending overseas.

Wise’s USP lies in its promise of low conversion fees based on mid-market rates and letting users store the maximum number of currencies (among the existing players in the market).

Wise allows you to add money in 21 currencies and keep and exchange money in over 50 currencies, including Singapore Dollar (SGD), Malaysian Ringgit (MYR), Hong Kong Dollar (HKD), US Dollar (USD), Euro (EUR), British Pound (GBP), Japanese Yen (JPY), and Thai Baht (THB), among others.

Additionally, you can also send money to 80 countries. As such, Wise is great if you’re a frequent traveller or often make international transfers.

The downside is that there’s a minimum 0.41% charge when you convert money, which varies based on the currency. However, this is still much lower than what traditional banks as well as payment services like PayPal charge.

Also, while you can make cash withdrawals from ATMs when you’re overseas, you’re only limited to S$350 and two withdrawals per month. If you exceed either, Wise will charge you S$1.50 per withdrawal. You also cannot make ATM withdrawals in Singapore.

Pros

  • Has the most currency support; you can add money in 21 currencies and keep and convert more than 50 currencies in your account.
  • The rates are based on the mid-market exchange rate, so there are no additional markups.
  • For cards issued in Singapore, you get to withdraw cash from overseas ATMs for free twice a month and up to S$350.
  • Bonus points for transparency as you can check fx rates in real-time on the app.
  • Save up to 12% on Booking.com when you pay with Wise.
  • Spend with the Wise card in 174 countries.
  • Currently, you can only receive payments in nine currencies (GBP, AUD, USD, CAF, HUF, SGD, NZD, EUR and TRY).
  • You can use Google Pay and Apple Pay for your Wise card.

Cons

  • A S$1.50 charge will be incurred if you withdraw more than S$350, or you withdraw more than twice a month.
  • There’s a small currency conversion fee starting from 0.41%.
  • Requesting for a physical card will cost you S$10.

YouTrip

YouTrip lets you convert up to 10 foreign currencies and make payments without transaction fees in over 150 currencies. It’s also available as a physical card by Mastercard, which you can use for over-the-counter purchases or overseas cash withdrawals. 

Through their dedicated mobile app, you can monitor, exchange and hold up to 10 currencies with rates updated in real-time. What’s more, you can easily top up your YouTrip wallet with any Singapore credit or debit card (up to S$3,000), no bank trips or signatures are necessary.

Pros

  • Exchange, hold and make payments in over 150 currencies.
  • You can withdraw up to S$5,000/day from overseas ATMs. 
  • No currency exchange fee and overseas transaction fee.
  • No service fee for top-ups made via PayNow, Visa debit cards, and Mastercard debit or credit cards.

Cons

  • No option to exchange excess foreign currency back to Singapore dollar.
  • Overseas ATM cash withdrawal costs S$5 per transaction.
  • You can’t transfer money to other bank accounts, only to other YouTrip users.
  • You can’t make ATM withdrawals in Singapore.
  • Only supports 10 currencies in your digital wallet.
  • A 1.5% service fee charge for top-ups made with Visa credit cards.
  • No Apple Pay and Google Pay support.

Instarem

InstaRem

Instarem is a Singapore-headquartered digital cross-border payments company with a presence across Asia-Pacific, North America and Europe. Instarem allows you to transfer money to over 60 countries, including South Korea, Thailand and India, at a significantly lower cost.

While sign-up is free, Instarem charges a nominal fee between 0.25% to 1% to cover the cost of processing a transaction.

What pits its Mastercard-enabled card, Amaze, as a potential winner is its advantage as the go-to card that lets you link up to five debit or credit cards to the account. Also, the card also doesn’t charge you any foreign transaction fee, although you’re still get charged with a small FX spread.

Previously, users could enjoy a 1% cashback earn rate for both local and foreign currency spends, on top of the rewards points or cashback that your linked credit card(s) would earn. This was capped at S$100 per quarter, or S$400 annually.

However, the Amaze card has since been nerfed, twice. Firstly, the cashback for local currency spends was previously reduced from 1% to 0.5%.

Then, Instarem replaced its cashback rewards system entirely in favour of a point-based one, known as InstaPoints.

You’ll only earn InstaPoints when you make a foreign currency transaction, at a rate of S$1 to 1 InstaPoint. In other words, you won’t be eligible for any cashback for local or foreign currency spends with your Mastercard cashback cards.

On top of that, DBS has also excluded the Amaze card as one of the transactions that will not earn you DBS points. This means that if you had previously paired your Amaze card with DBS credit cards such as the DBS Woman’s World Mastercard to earn 1.2 miles to 4 miles per dollar, well, that’s not possible now.

While you can use your InstaPoints to redeem cashback, note that there’s a minimum fixed rate of 2,000 points to S$20. What this means is that you would need to accumulate 2,000 points, or spend S$2,000 per quarter, to get S$20 cashback.

Moreover, there’s now a limit of 500 InstaPoints per transaction. So, regardless of whether you spend S$500, S$1,500, or S$5,000 in foreign currency, you’ll still earn 500 InstaPoints.

That said, your associated cards will still earn you rewards; so if you tag your Amaze card with the Citi Cashback or Citi Cashback Plus credit cards, for instance, you’ll still continue to earn cashback.

Likewise, you can also earn miles for every dollar spent if you have a miles credit card like the Citi Rewards card or Citi PremierMiles card.

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Pros

  • Lets you earn bonus points upon joining, referring members and transferring money.
  • You can link up to five Mastercards (including debit and credit cards).
  • Receive up to 1 InstaPoint for every S$1 spent on foreign currency transactions.
  • No foreign currency transaction fee, only a small FX spread.
  • Businesses can pay multiple beneficiaries in one go in their respective local currencies.
  • Transfers are fast, within 2 business days.

Cons

  • There is a minimum transfer amount. For Singapore, you need to transfer a minimum of S$200.
  • There is a maximum amount you can transact when you transfer from countries such as India, Malaysia and the USA. 
  • You can’t link your Visa credit/debit cards.
  • InstaPoints are only available for foreign currency transactions.
  • There’s no wallet function, so while you can remit money, you can’t store and covert foreign currency.

Revolut

Source: Revolut

Like Wise and YouTrip, Revolut works like a debit card where you’ll need to make top-ups to your account before you can convert and spend in a foreign currency.

Fans of Revolut will always rave about the 20% cashback when they use their Revolut cards for MRT and bus rides in Singapore. But it’s also one of the best multi-currency cards to use for overseas spending.

For starters, you can convert, make payments, withdraw, transfer, and receive money in 28 currencies without interbank transaction fees.

Similar to Instarem and YouTrip, you won’t be charged any foreign exchange fee when converting most currencies. But note that this is limited to S$5,000 per month if you’re on the Standard Plan.

But perhaps what makes Revolut one of the best travel cards is that you can create free virtual cards for one-time usage. This helps to prevent others from stealing your credit card information as you can dispose of the virtual card after making a payment.

You can also request for a free physical Revolut card, which can be used for over-the-counter purchases where digital payments aren’t accepted. You’re also allowed to withdraw up to S$350 a month from overseas ATMs.

However, note that you’ll be charged 2% of the value of the amount withdrawn after exceeding that limit. You also can’t make ATM withdrawals in Singapore.

Another downside of Revolut is that you’ll incur a higher foreign exchange fee if you convert money outside of foreign exchange market hours (i.e. weekends). This ranges from 1% to 2%.

If you foresee yourself spending, exchanging or withdrawing cash overseas often and in sizeable amounts, you may want to consider signing up for the Premium and Metal paid accounts that are priced at S$9.99 and S$19.99 a month respectively. These accounts will give you access to higher exchange and cash withdrawal limits, among other additional features.

Pros

  • The physical card can be used for Visa and Mastercard payments, including in Singapore.
  • No foreign currency exchange fee (for most currencies) if you exchange S$5,000 and below per month (Standard plan). After that, you’ll be charged a 0.5% fair usage fee.
  • For an additional layer of security, Revolut offers the option to turn on location-based security to safeguard against fraud.
  • You can create a free disposable virtual card for single use, which prevents your card details from being stolen.
  • You can withdraw up to S$350 per month in cash at overseas ATMs, but will be charged 2% of the value if you exceed the limit.
  • Supports up to 28 currencies.

Cons

  • Certain currency exchanges made outside of foreign exchange market hours, such as on weekends, will incur a flat-rate surcharge (ranging between 0.5% to 2%).
  • Any currency exchange of more than S$5,000 per month will incur a flat 0.4% fee (applies to Standard Account holders only).
  • Limited to five ATM withdrawals per month (Standard Account holders only).
  • You can’t make ATM withdrawals in Singapore.
  • Revolut card is free, but a S$19.99 delivery charge will apply for express delivery.

Wirex

Source: Wirex

Like the other digital multi-currency accounts listed here, Wirex offers the option to transact in 150 traditional currencies and exchange up to 12 traditional currencies. 

But what makes Wirex standout? It offers the option to exchange, hold and spend in 8 cryptocurrencies, namely Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, XRP, Wirex Token, Dai, Nano and Stellar Lumens.

Through Wirex’s app or webpage, convert traditional currency and cryptocurrency however your heart desires – currency to cryptocurrency, cryptocurrency to currency or cryptocurrency to cryptocurrency. Not to mention, if you transact using cryptocurrency you get to earn actual rewards! Store, spend and earn up to 1.5% back into your Bitcoin account when you transact with Wirex’s travelcard. 

Pros

  • The ease of exchanging, holding and spending traditional currency or cryptocurrencies (and earn rewards) all in one app.
  • Withdraw up to US$300 (approximately S$408) in cash per day at any overseas ATM, without transaction fees. 
  • No cap or additional charges on the amount of traditional currency exchanged.

Cons

  • Limited number of traditional currencies – only 12.
  • If you have funds stored in your account and do not transact for more than 9 months, Wirex will charge you a dormant fee of US$5 (approximately S$7).

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Conclusion

While these digital multi-currency accounts serve a similar primary purpose, they aren’t built exactly the same. Some of these accounts offer more foreign currency exchange options, while others have a higher cash withdrawal limit.

If you’re a frequent traveller and often send money internationally, Wise is probably for you as it offers the most currency support. That said, it charges a small conversion fee for each transfer.

Meanwhile, Revolut and YouTrip both don’t charge foreign transaction fees. However, the former charge a higher exchange fee on weekends, while the latter only allows you to transfer money to other YouTrip accounts while you need to pay S$5 for each ATM withdrawal.

On the other hand, Instarem Amaze works differently from the rest as it doesn’t have a digital wallet feature. This means that instead of making top-ups to your account, you make payments via your linked Mastercards, allowing you to earn credit card rewards like cashback or miles from your associated cards.

However, the downside to Instarem Amaze is that you can’t store and send money in foreign currencies. Plus, it doesn’t support Visa cards or ATM withdrawals.

Lastly, Wirex offers a seamless way for you to store fiat currencies as well as cryptocurrencies. But it only supports 12 traditional currencies and isn’t licensed by MAS.

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In my past life, I was always broke because of a lack of financial literacy. Now, I publish a few posts every week* on personal finance to help you manage your money better. *I mean, I’ll try