Cash Vs Credit Card Vs Multicurrency Card For Travelling Overseas

Deborah Gan

Deborah Gan

Last updated 25 November, 2022

Team multicurrency cards, credit cards or cash for overseas expenses? We present you the case for each of the three payment methods to see if it could convince you to change your mind.

As travelling once again becomes a norm, I’m sure many of you have planned for your long-awaited travels.

Whether you’ve managed to snag low ticket prices or got a discount off your Airbnb, why wouldn’t you want to maximise savings on your overseas expenses right?

If you’ve been stuck in your old ways of using cash for all your expenses, maybe it's time you be more open to other payment methods. It could either earn you more rewards or save you the hassle of fumbling through your wad of notes.

But who’s to say that cash might still be the best option for you? We deep dive into the different payment methods to see which can give the most bang for your buck.

More on this topic:
Amex, Visa, or Mastercard: Which is Best for Travel?
Credit Card Or Multi-Currency Card For Overseas Spending?
10 Best Money Remittance / Money Transfer Services In Singapore
Cash VS Multi-Currency Cards: Pros & Cons

Planning for your trip soon? Compare the best travel insurance plans to get the best plan at the lowest price!

SingSaver's Most Recommended Travel Insurance Products: Apply today to enjoy comprehensive coverages at affordable premiums, irresistible sign-up offers, and the ultimate peace of mind during your travels.

Product Best for Key coverages Promotion
Allianz Travel Hero
[Lowest price in Singapore guaranteed]
logo-allianz-travel

 

High coverage per dollar - Up to S$500,000 for overseas medical expenses

- Up to S$150,000 accidental death and total and permanent disability

- Up to S$15,000 travel cancellation

- Up to S$3,000 flight delay (S$400 for daily receipts limit, min 6h)

- Up to S$3,000 loss of baggage

Buy now to receive a Complimentary lounge access during flight delays. Valid till 1 July 2024 8:59 am. 


Exclusive on SingSaver only.

FWD Travel Insurance
[Best deal guaranteed] 

fwdlogo

 

Affordability  - Up to S$1,000,000 for overseas medical expenses

- Up to S$400,000 accidental death and total and permanent disability

- Up to S$15,000 travel cancellation

- Up to S$1,000 flight delay (S$100/6h)

- Up to S$7,500 loss of baggage

Use the promo code FWDTRAVEL to get a 40% discount on Single Trip and 20% discount Annual Trip plans! Valid till 4 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

Buy now to receive:
An Apple AirTag worth S$45.40. Valid till 24 June 2024 8:59 am. T&Cs apply. 


4 miles per S$1 spend
on your premium. Valid till  1 July 2024. and T&Cs apply.

 

A chance to win up to 500,000 KrisFlyer miles. Valid till 1 July 8:59 am 2024. T&Cs apply.


Complimentary lounge access during flight delays. Valid till 1 July 2024 8:59 am. 


MSIG TravelEasy
[Best deal guaranteed] 

msig-logo

 

Comprehensive medical coverage - Up to S$1,000,000 for overseas medical expenses

- Up to S$500,000 accidental death and total and permanent disability

- Up to S$15,000 travel cancellation

- Up to S$1,500 flight delay (S$100/6h)

- Up to S$7,500 loss of baggage

Get 40% off  Single Trip and 20% off Annual Trip when you buy NOW! Valid till 28 July 2024.

 Also receive:

An Apple AirTag worth S$45.40. Valid till 24 June 2024 8:59 am. T&Cs apply. 


4 miles per S$1 spend on your premium. Valid till  1 July 2024. and T&Cs apply.

A chance to win up to 500,000 KrisFlyer miles. Valid till 1 July 8:59 am 2024. T&Cs apply.


Complimentary lounge access during flight delays. Valid till 1 July 2024 8:59 am. 

 

What are multicurrency cards?

As its name suggests, multicurrency cards hold multiple currencies for seamless payments overseas. Not only do they allow you to easily switch between fiat currencies and digital assets, but multicurrency cards also provide a host of benefits like low or zero foreign currency transaction fees, attractive currency conversions based on interbank exchange rates, as well as free overseas ATM withdrawals. But of course, every multicurrency card comes with its different set of benefits.

With the introduction of multicurrency cards into the markets in recent years, you’ve probably heard of the more well-known cards like YouTrip that spearheaded the introduction back in 2018, followed by others like Revolut, Instarem Amaze, Wise and Wirex.

See also: Revenge Travel 2022: 16 Top Travel Tips To Satisfy Your Wanderlust

Multicurrency rates

 

Multicurrency card

Account opening fee

Supported currencies for wallet

ATM withdrawals

FX fee

Other benefits

YouTrip

Free

10

Mastercard, Maestro or Cirrus ATMs for flat fee of S$5

NA

  • 24/7 in-app money changer for 10 currencies
  • Real time wholesale exchange rates
  • Discounts for selected brands

Revolut

Free for standard

£2.99/month for Plus


£6.99/month for Premium

£12.99/month for Premium

28

Mastercard or Visa ATMs at prevailing fees based on subscription

0% to 2%

  • Send and receive money in 30+ currencies with no fees

Instarem Amaze

Free

NA (no wallet feature)

NA

NA

  • Link up to 5 Mastercard bank cards
  • Up to 1% cashback when you spend abroad
  • Mastercard travel benefits

Wise

Free

S$9 for Wise card

52

Withdraw money for free twice a month up to S$350, S$1.50 flat fee thereafter

Withdrawals above S$350 is charged with a 1.75% fee

From 0.41%

  • Receive payments in 9 currencies

Wirex

Free for Standard

S$9.99/month for Premium

S$29.99/month for Elite

22

Free for withdrawals up to S$400 a month, thereafter 2% fee

NA

  • Spend 150+ currencies at live rates world wide
  • Up to 2% cashback in WXT on all spending under Cryptoback rewards

See also: Multi-Currency Savings Accounts 2022

Why should I use a multicurrency card?

#1 Low or no foreign exchange fees

The best thing about using a multicurrency card is to take advantage of its low or zero foreign currency exchange rates, compared to credit cards which have a minimum of 2% foreign currency exchange rate.

Multicurrency cards also boast of their competitive exchange rates, which are usually much higher than credit cards. This means that you’re able to take advantage of the prevailing exchange rate when you make purchases in foreign currencies, unlike credit cards that have a less favourable exchange rate.

#2 Foreign currency e-wallets

To further lock in attractive exchange rates, some multicurrency cards have e-wallets that allow you to store your funds in foreign currencies. For example, if the exchange rate for the Malaysian Ringgit is at an all-time high, you can deposit money into your MYR e-wallet to lock in great rates and use the funds to pay for your purchases online or when you’re abroad.

Don’t underestimate the usefulness of these nifty features, as they can significantly save you a lot of money when you’re travelling overseas. Depending on which country you’re going, it’s best to discern for yourself which muticurrency card is best for purchases there.

#3 But… you might have to pay to withdraw cash

Multicurrency cards might seem like the best option there until you need to withdraw cash. And most of the time, it comes with a fee.

Especially when you want to make payments at street stalls or night markets where they don’t accept cards as a payment method, you might have to scramble to an ATM (that can be quite hard to find) and, on top of that, incur withdrawal fees that can be quite pricey.

Miles credit card rates

Miles credit card

Overseas miles per dollar

FX fee

Other benefits

AMEX Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend

2 mpd

2.5%

  • 2 mpd on eligible overseas spend during June and December, no cap
  • 4 complimentary access to airport lounge each year
  • Complimentary night stay at Hilton

BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard

2 mpd

3%

  • Redeem lifestyle rewards with BOC points
  • 15% off luxury airport retailers and duty free shops
  • Access to over 1,000 lounges worldwide

Citi PremierMiles

2 mpd

3.25% rebate (from now till 31 Jan 2023)

3.25%

  • 2 complimentary visits every year to airport lounges worldwide
  • Up to S$1 million insurance coverage when you charge your travel tickets to the card

DBS Altitude Visa

2 mpd

2.5%

  • 10 mpd on hotel transitions at Kaligo, 6mpd on flight and hotel transitions at Expedia
  • 3 mpd on online flights and hotel transactions
  • Enjoy 3 free lounge visits at over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide each year

HSBC Visa Infinite

2.25 mpd

2.8%

  • Unlimited airport lounge access
  • 2 complimentary redemptions of limousine transfers and expedited immigration clearance
  • Complimentary travel insurance when you charge your travel expenses to the card
  • 24/7 travel and lifestyle concierge

OCBC 90N

2.1 mpd

3%

  • 2 Travel$ per S$1 spent in foreign currency
  • Get cash rebates at up to 3% from your earned Travel$
  • 7 Travel$ per S$1 bookings in foreign currency on Agoda

UOB Visa Signature

4 mpd

3.25%

  • Earn up to 10X UNI$ per S$5 spend on overseas transactions
  • Complimentary travel insurance

UOB PRVI Amex Miles

2.4 mpd

3.25%

  • 6 mpd on major airlines and hotels worldwide via Agoda, Expedia and UOB Travel
  • Up to 2 complimentary airport transfers quarterly
  • Complimentary travel insurance

 

 

See also: Best Air Miles Credit Cards Singapore 2022

Cashback credit card rates

Cashback credit card

Cashback rate for overseas spend

FX fee

Other benefits

Bank of China Family Card

10%

3%

  • 10% cash rebate on everyday dining in foreign currency
  • 3% cash rebate on online purchases in foreign currency

CIMB Visa Signature

Up to 10%

2%

  • Up to 10% cashback on cruises
  • Complimentary travel insurance
  • Visa Signature Concierge servce

CIMB World

Up to 2%

3%

  • Up to 2% cashback with local and overseas spending in eligible categories with min spend of S$1,000
  • Access to over 1,000 airport lounges internationally 

Citi Cashback

Up to 8%

3.25% rebate (from now till 31 Jan 2023)

3.25%

  • 6% cashback on dining at restaurants and cafes internationally
  • 8% cashback on groceries at supermarkets and grocery stores internationally

DBS Live Fresh

Up to 5%

3.25%

  • Up to 5% on online and visa contactless spend including overseas transactions

HSBC Advance

Up to 2.5%

2.8%

  • Up to 2.5% base cashback on local and overseas purchases
  • Visa Digital Concierge service
  • Complimentary travel insurance coverage and exclusive deals on hotels, flights and packages

OCBC 365

6%

3.25%

  • 6% cashback on everyday dining in foreign currency
  • 3% cashback on online air, cruise, hotel and tour bookings
  • Up to S$200,000 of complimentary travel personal accident insurance

UOB Absolute Cashback

3%

3.25%

  • 3% cashback on all overseas spend till 31 Dec 2022
  • Complimentary travel insurance
  • Discounts on selected merchants

UOB One

Up to 15%

2.8%

  • Up to 15% cashback on UOB Travel

 

 

See also: Best Cashback Credit Cards in Singapore 2022

Why should I use a credit card overseas?

#1 Rewards 

Whether you’re looking to maximise cashback on your purchases or accumulate miles, the greatest benefit of using a credit card is its attractive rewards. 

Even if multicurrency cards do offer rewards on your purchases, you might realise that they are significantly less attractive than credit cards. Credit cards emerge as the top payment method if you’re looking for rewards, as the cashback and miles raked up overseas can be of a significant amount.

See also: Best Rewards Credit Cards In Singapore (2022)

#2 Convenience

On top of that, credit cards also offer you the most convenience since you won’t have to go out of your way to apply for a new multicurrency card just for your travels. But do ensure that you check before bringing your credit card overseas — some credit cards require you to activate the magnetic stripe overseas before you can pay.

#3 But.. high foreign exchange rate

However, beware of the high foreign exchange rates that come with credit cards. Take a look at the list, and you will realise that the lowest foreign exchange rates start from 2%, and it can go all the way up to 3.25%.

Even a conservative amount of S$1,000 on your overseas expenses can cost you up to S$32.50 in extra expenses, and it can definitely accumulate into a significant sum that you might regret paying.

So always take note if the rewards can outweigh the additional foreign exchange fee that your card charges you.

 

 

Why should I use cash overseas?

#1 No hidden or additional fees

When it comes to cash, what you see is what you get. It is the most straightforward mode of payment because there are no hidden fees that you can possibly incur. 

With credit cards and multicurrency cards, you might miss out on some hidden fees that you have to pay if you don’t read the fine print properly. And when you find out that you have incurred extra costs, it’s too late because you have already made payments

Cash is just something that you can’t go wrong with, the only thing you need to take note of is to make sure that you count your cash correctly. If you’re not familiar with a foreign currency or meet a dishonest stall owner, you might end up paying extra few zeros without even knowing.

#2 Lock in competitive rates

Cash also works like an e-wallet whereby you can lock in rates when they are favourable. Simply change all your money when rates are good and you’ve essentially managed to maximise its value.

You won’t be subjected to the prevailing rate even when rates are bad.

#3 But… they are a hassle to keep

As you know, keeping cash can be especially troublesome to keep and take note of. Instead of keeping a single card on hand, you’ll have to fumble through the multiple notes and coins that you have. This makes it hard for you to keep tabs on how much money you have left, besides constantly counting your cash.

Paying can also be quite tedious if you’re not used to foreign currency, compared to a single tap or swipe with your credit card.

Planning for your trip soon? Compare the best travel insurance plans to get the best plan at the lowest price!

 

 


Read these next:
Best Covid-19 Travel Insurance Plans (2022)
Best Travel Insurance Plans And Promotions In Singapore
Best Types Of Travel Insurance Plans For Each Trip


 

A mahjong addict with an undying love for dogs, Deborah is always on the hunt for cheap deals because she is always broke. That is why she is attempting to be more financially savvy to be.. less broke

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!