I never thought I’d ever get the chance to say this but I do feel like a little travel fatigue is setting in. Months of travelling later, I found out which cards are the best for my travel needs which saved me plenty of money. Is it Instarem Amaze? Trust Bank? Revolut? Or YouTrip?
In the last 10 months, I think half of them have involved some form of travelling for me.
I guess that pretty much fulfilled my entire travel quota from 2020 to 2022 doesn’t it?
- Oct 2022 : Malaysia x 5 Days
I spent a couple of days in Malaysia attending a family wedding and since I was in the country already, we spent another few days in Kuala Lumpur just sightseeing and eating.
- Nov 2022 : Chiang Mai & Bangkok x 9 Days
Came back from KL, and it just happened that my wife and I caught the damned bug for the first time ever in Kuala Lumpur. Just as we recovered in time (phew) during the one-week break, we managed to make our flights and spent another 9 days in Chiang Mai and Bangkok. After arriving back in Singapore, we packed our bags again – this time not to fly, but to spend a weekend at Four Point Sheratons for a wedding we’re attending.
- Dec 2022 : Rest
Prices are generally more expensive during the December holidays, so we stayed put in Singapore.
- Jan 2023 : Cruise x 3 Days
Once the school term started in January, we went on a cruise on Genting Dream with Resorts World Cruises. We were originally booked on the Dream Cruises’ World Dream but it had ceased operation Dream Cruises. As a goodwill gesture, we were given chance to redeem our cruise and we took it.
- Feb and Mar 2023 : Rest (Lunar New Year)
Lunar New Year came around and we stayed put again for February and March.
- Apr 2023 : Kuala Lumpur x 7 Days
With expiring miles in my KrisFlyer account and a good accommodation deal we snagged online, we spent a week in Kuala Lumpur in April 2023 since we had nothing else better to do.
- May 2023 : Bali x 9 Days
After recuperating in Singapore for three weeks, this time we went on another 9-day trip to Bali to get some sun.
- Jun 2023 : Rest
June holidays is gonna be pricey again so we’re staying put in Singapore
- Jul 2023 : Vietnam x 9 Days
Stayed 5 nights in Hoi An and 3 nights in Da Nang which turned out to be a memorable experience and eye-opener! The country is so affordable!
All these travelling experience have also made me appreciate the plethora of multi-currency cards available at our disposal, for the Singaporean market that is.
- Travel Fatigue?
- My 2 Travel Needs
- 1. ATM Withdrawal
- 2. Card Payment
- Ending Thoughts
- Ending Thoughts
- Referral rewards for you
My 2 Travel Needs
When travelling, I have two needs that need to be fulfilled when it comes to finances.
- ATM withdrawals for cash-only expenses
- Card Payments
1. ATM Withdrawal
Although I’d always bring along some cash in the local currency of the country I’m visiting, having the option of cheap ATM access in case of emergencies or miscalculations is a valuable resource.
This has become exceptionally easy in recent years with the abundance of multi-currency wallets.
For the longest time, ATM withdrawals continue to confuse travellers worldwide with regards to the payable fees when making cash withdrawals overseas.
In simple terms, there are usually 3 types of fees to be aware of.
ATM Provider Fee
Basically, the owner of the ATM charges us a fee for using their ATM overseas e.g. Krungsri Bank when in Thailand. This fee is also typically displayed on the ATM before you make a withdrawal, so you can decide if you want to use it.
These are based on my past experiences so things could have changed.
I was withdrawing Malaysian Ringgit via an ATM in KSL City Mall in Johor Bahru and there is no ATM fee the last time I used it. It was also free when I did a withdrawal in Indonesia as well.
I withdrew Thai Baht via an ATM in Bangkok, and ATMs there charge a fee per withdrawal of around 150 Baht (Aeon) to 220 (Krungsri) Baht.
Out-of-network / Card Provider Fee
Let’s assume that the bank card we’re using for ATM withdrawal is from DBS.
There are exceptions but in general, there is a service charge of S$7 per cash withdrawal at overseas Visa/Mastercard ATMs when using a DBS debit card.
For cards such as Trust / Revolut, there is no fee being charged (sometimes up to a specified amount) per month which is awesome, and this is what I personally use.
Administrative / Conversion Factor Fee
Once again, using DBS as an example.
For overseas cash withdrawals converted by Visa/Mastercard, a conversion factor of 1% is applied on the converted amount. In addition, an administrative fee for services provided or actions taken by DBS in relation to such overseas cash withdrawals shall be payable and debited from my Account. The prevailing administrative fee is up to 2.65% on the converted Singapore Dollar amount. Total administrative fee and fees for conversion factor shall not exceed 3.25%.
Once again, no such fee if we’re using Trust / Revolut.
Once in a while, the Crypto.com card does gives me a little issue when I do use it (card not recognised) and I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe it’s because of the thicker metal card materia.
There are often ATM withdrawal transaction limits so check that on respective providers if you’re going to either need multiple transactions or high-value withdrawals on a monthly basis.
For my 7-10 days trips it was not an issue at all as I didn’t require much cash (usually for transportation like taxis, small shops, giving tips) and most places do accept card payments, which was pretty surprising to see.
- Using bank cards to make cash withdrawals at ATMs overseas usually incur expensive fees
- There is really no point paying a fee when I don’t have to
- Trust / YouTrip / Revolut is my primary card for ATM withdrawal
- Amaze and Crypto.com charges a fee per ATM withdrawal so I don’t use them
|Trust||1||No limit feeless withdrawal|
|YouTrip||2||S$400 per month feeless withdrawal (2% for above limit)|
|Revolut||3||S$350 per month feeless withdrawal (2% for above limit)|
|Crypto.com||4||From S$200 per month feeless withdrawal (2% for above limit) |
Plus 0.5% foreign transaction fee
|Amaze||5||2% of amount withdrawn per transaction|
2. Card Payment
Regardless which of these cards I’m using, the one thing that is obvious is that the rate I’m getting will absolutely be way better than the one I’m getting versus a credit card.
If I’m using either Trust, Amaze, YouTrip or Revolut, I’m already winning.
The only question is, how much do I want to optimize?
I like to refer to DBS bank as an example since many Singaporeans have a banking relationship with it.
For overseas card transaction fees, transactions made overseas or through overseas-based online merchants (including refunds and reversals) are subject to foreign transaction fees of up to 3.25%. (Source)
The three options – Amaze, YouTrip and Revolut cards – all function similarly as a multicurrency travel wallet.
We can either convert our SGD into local currencies before our trips (except Trust), or let adhoc conversion take place during payments.
YouTrip and Revolut are pretty straight-forward for me. I simply top up with SGD via bank-transfers (free) and start using the cards when I’m overseas.
FCY expenses would automatically be paid for using my SGD balance using the rates they provide.
In the case of Amaze, it is certainly a little “amazing” because of one feature – it can be used simply by linking a Mastercard credit card to it instead of having to top it up with SGD.
Once in a while, I would be using my YouTrip and realize that the wallet value is insufficient for payment. A little oopsy, but nothing major.
While Amaze foreign exchange rates isn’t as good at YouTrip or Revolut, its ability to link up to five SG-issued Mastercard credit cards proved to be its killer feature because we will get to earn credit card reward points.
YouTrip / Revolut
- No credit card reward points (because top up with SGD)
- No foreign currency fees
- Foreign exchange rate determined by Mastercard (YouTrip) / Visa (Revolut)
- No native reward program
- Earn Linkpoints
- No foreign currency fees
- Foreign exchange rate determined by Mastercard
- Earn credit card reward points (don’t top up wallet with SGD)
- No foreign currency fees
- Foreign exchange rate determined by Instarem Amaze
- Amaze InstaPoints program (2,000 InstaPoints-to-SGD$20 per block)
For me, the question then becomes whether credit card reward points + Amaze InstaPoints are worth the approximately ~0.5% spread (Amaze uses its own “internal” exchange rate) that I’ve been getting via my personal experience with Amaze transactions.
My answer is a resounding yes because with Amaze, something special happens.
When a transaction is passed through Amaze and paid for using my credit card, the transaction will be converted into an online spend, and there are credit cards that earn 4 miles per SGD such as Citi Rewards.
I have a crappy experience with UOB so I won’t mention any of their cards.
If you don’t have Citi Rewards, OCBC Titanium Rewards works nicely too. The important thing to know is that they must be Mastercard and not Visa.
Upon exhausting my S$1,000/month limit for Citi Rewards, I will then fall back to my Citi Prestige general spend credit card.
Combined with InstaPoints (IPs) which translates to kind of like a 0.5% cash rebate, Amaze is my goto option. After you have accumulated 2,000 InstaPpints, you can redeem each block for SGD$20 to be used in Amaze Wallet.
What if you don’t even travel that much? Think again.
These days, there are plenty of services we’re paying for on a subscription-basis and many are charged in foreign currencies. Also, there will be times when we make a purchase online and it is priced in USD, for example. All these are great opportunities to me to leverage on the Amaze card.
Some Terms Used
- Spot rate: Current exchange rate between two currencies
- Actual rate: Rate that is actually used in a transaction
- Spread: Difference between spot rate and actual rate
All things being equal, it seems to me that MasterCard as it generally provides better exchange rates than Visa.
Recap : YouTrip vs Trust vs Amaze vs Revolut
- YouTrip usually has the best rate (due to Mastercard)
- Revolut has a weekend markup (~1%) for its exchange rate
- Amaze has a slight inferior rate (~0.5%) but makes up for it with credit card reward points and InstaPoints 0.5% rebate
- Amaze is my primary card for payment overseas
- YouTrip is my backup card for payment overseas
|Amaze||1||Optimized option considering credit card reward points|
|YouTrip||2||Best rate (Mastercard)|
|Trust||3||Good rate (Visa)|
|Revolut||4||Weekend 1% markup transaction (prone to forgetting)|
Some ending thoughts on the various multicurrency card/wallet options that I’ve used in recent months.
- Inferior FX rate but earn CC reward points
- 0.5% rebate for FCY spend via InstaPoint
- No need to top up prior to use, can link Mastercard credit cards
- Best way to use it : 4mpd or stack with cash rebate card
- Superpower : it convert all transactions to SGD Online
- Good for USD subscriptions and payments
- Good option if you don’t have Mastercard credit card to link with Amaze
- Need to top up money before using
- Best FX rate for card payment now with S$400 free withdrawals from ATM
- Free ATM withdrawals up to S$350 per month
- An additional fee may apply to transactions made outside of exchange market hours. A transaction will be considered as outside of exchange market hours if it is made between Friday 5pm (New York time) and Sunday 6pm (New York time).
- Good FX rate
- Free ATM withdrawals
- Good FX rate
- The only card you need if you prefer a hassle-free experience but don’t care to optimize
- “Swiss-army knife” functionality
I originally kept a spare card in my wallet in case the situation arises whereby I’d to use it, and that card is Trust card.
If you make overseas transactions and choose to pay in foreign currencies, the Trust Card offers Visa’s competitive exchange rates with no FX fees or charges. I have used it before and the rates were not bad vs YouTrip and Revolut.
Plus it is a good option for ATM withdrawals, so it eventually made it into my primary stack.
However, I don’t use this option as much because after all, the (debit) card is linked to my digital bank account balance and that could be a bummer if anything goes wrong. My wife had a trip to the Philippines when she used her credit card at only the hotel she stayed in, and fraudulent transactions appeared soon after. Maybe I worry too much. Similarly, fraud transactions appeared on my credit card after a trip to Bali.
Just remember to make sure Trust cash is set to Debit mode before making ATM withdrawals, otherwise using it as a credit card would meant a cash advance that incurs fee. Also, you can use the Trust mobile app to disable overseas usage of the Trust card when you’re not travelling.
Don’t even think of using credit card overseas, the fees are simply horrible.
To be honest, all of these cards are great for travel and so long as you are using one of them, you’re miles (cough) ahead of using credit cards directly.
To optimize for miles earning, Amaze (payment) + Trust (ATM withdrawal) is a good combination.
To optimize for best rates and least fees, YouTrip (payment) + Trust Bank (ATM withdrawal) is the perfect combination.
To optimize for hassle-free one-card-only approach, Trust Bank is what I’d use.
|Earn Miles||Amaze||Trust Bank|
|Lowest Fees||YouTrip||Trust Bank|
|Least Hassle||Trust Bank||Trust Bank|
I have done a detailed test using USD transactions with multi-currency travel cards and wallets and found YouTrip to have the best exchange rate.
Surprisingly, it was able to get obtain close to mid-market (Google) exchange rate so I would highly recommend you to check out YouTrip.
Referral rewards for you
At no extra cost to you, the following referral codes and links will help you to get some freebies on top of being able to use the features and benefits that I’ve mentioned in this blog post.
|Card||Ref Code / Link||What You Get||What You Need To Do|
|Trust Bank||S$35 NTUC |
|1. Sign up using referral code |
2. Make one transaction / Top up account
|Amaze||Sign Up Here||1,000 InstaPoints |
|1. Sign up using referral code |
2. Make one transaction
|YouTrip||Sign Up Here||S$5||1. Make one top-up|
|Revolut||Sign Up Here|
After you’ve gotten your voucher, don’t forget to refer your parents, brothers and sisters, husband / wife to redeem them again!
🚨 Promo Deals Not To Be Missed
Kevin started Turtle Investor when his net worth languished at negative $25,755. His desire to turn things around led him to build passive income from investments and side hustles that pay for all his daily expenses and overseas vacations. You can learn more about Kevin here.