If you are planning to visit Singapore or leaving Singapore for a country abroad, you will need to exchange your cash into the local currency. It may be a bit overwhelming to get all your plans and itineraries and accommodations in order. However, you also want to schedule some time to exchange your money at the right place to get the best exchange rate and to make sure that they accept your currency.
Avoid Exchanging Currency at the Airport
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The first place you may have guessed to exchange currency would be at the airport. You may reason that it's incredibly convenient and you can do it while you are waiting to board your flight or when you arrive. If this is what you were thinking you would be wrong!
Even though the airport money changers advertise "Zero Commission," you will likely lose in the actual exchange rate and fees. What you get for convenience, you will probably pay in a different way. As a result, the same can be said for exchanging money in a hotel.
How Exchange Rates Add Up
If you're not exchanging a large amount of money, the difference in cents may not matter to you. However, if you are indeed gearing up for a holiday, you want the money changer that has the best rate.
For example, let's say you want to take a holiday to Japan and you want to exchange enough Singaporean dollars equivalent to 250,000 Yen. If a money changer is trading 1000 Yen for S$12.28, it would cost you at total of S$3,045. On the other hand, if another money exchanger is exchanging 1000 Yen for S$12.18, it would cost you a total of S$3,070. That's a difference of S$25 for just doing a bit of research.
Licensed Money Changers
Licensed money changers are approved, supervised, and regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore or MAS. They operate under the Money-Changing and Remittance Businesses Act. If you see the "Licensed Money Changer" sign, you know there is a standard of service and honesty.
These money changers can be found at Singapore Changi Airport and shopping malls nationwide. However, be sure to check the exchange rate first before committing to a service.
You can research the mid-market rate, which is the real exchange rate before banks and money changers mark up and charge their fees. Therefore, always use an online currency converter to see who is giving you the best rate.
Recommended List of Reputable Money Changers
1. Arcade Money Changers at Raffles Place
The Arcade Money Changers at Raffles Place is located at 11 Collyer Quay, Singapore 049317. What I appreciate the most about this location is that the exchange rates are clearly disclosed on their electronic display boards.
This location is best for USD, EUR, GBP, JPY, THB, MYR, and TWD currencies. Their staff are experienced and communicate well.
2. Money Changers at Lucky Plaza
The Money Changers at Lucky Plaza is located at 304 Orchard Road, Singapore 238863. This location is ideal for tourists visiting Singapore who are around the Orchard area or local Singaporeans who enjoy the shopping belt of Singapore.
Unfortunately, there are no electronic display boards to advertise the current exchange rate. This location is best for PHP, THB, and MYR currencies.
3. Mustafa Foreign Exchange Money Changer
The Mustafa Foreign Exchange Money Changer is located at 145 Syed Alwi Road, Mustafa Centre, Singapore 207704. What sets this money changer apart is that it operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It would be safe to say that this is likely the most famous money changer located at Mustafa Centre.
If you are a haggler, this is the place to bargain to get better rates. Unfortunately, traveler's cheques are not accepted. This location is best for INR, IDR, RMB, MYR, CNY, HKD, and PHP currencies.
4. Money Changers at People's Park Complex
The Money Changers at People's Park Complex Chinatown is located in the heart of Singapore's Chinatown. The address of the old building is 1 Park Road, Singapore 059108.
While this location is popular and convenient, it will require you to do a bit of legwork to compare exchange rates from shop to shop. This building is bets for CNY, PHP, THB, MYR, and HKD currencies.
5. Money Changers at Parkway Parade
For those nearby East Coast Park or the Katong area, you would likely consider the money changers at Parkway Parade. The building's address is 80 Marine Parade Road, Singapore 449269. Most of the suggested money changers are located at level 1 of the shopping centre.
This location is best for THB, USD< MYR, JPY, and HKD currencies.
In general, foreign exchange rates are better for you in the country that has a high demand for the currency you want to exchange. For example, a Singaporean traveling to the United States should exchange his cash in Singapore because the demand for the Singaporean Dollar is higher in Singapore. Likewise, a European is better off exchanging Euros in Europe before arriving in Singapore.
However, if you fail to exchange currency in your home country before traveling, another option is to visit a local ATM. However, first, contact your local bank to see if they have any partnerships with any banks operating in your destination country. By using partner banks, you can avoid the fees that may be associated with withdrawing money in a foreign country.
In general, ATM's should give you the market exchange rate. Nonetheless, beware if the ATM asks you if you want to be charged in your home currency. Choose, "No." You always want to be charged in the local currency of the country you are in. Otherwise, you will likely be charged DCC or the Dynamic Currency Conversion, which is almost never in your interest.
Alternatively, if the bank asks you which bank you'd like to perform the conversion, your home back or the ATM, choose your home bank's rate. It will more than likely be be fairer to you.
Although cash advances on your credit cards are not recommended, using a credit card when traveling is usually recommended. Before you leave for your trip, be sure to get a credit card with a low or no foreign transaction fee. At the very least, get a card that rewards you for overseas transactions!
By carrying less cash and using your credit card, you’ll be safer and have multiple methods of payment.
There are numerous options to exchange money in Singapore. Unfortunately, not all locations are reputable, trustworthy, or in your best interest.
It is essential to always have cash in the local currency of your destination country. Additionally, it is advantageous to exchange cash in your home country before traveling. As a result, go to a money changer that offers the best rate. You can even haggle at some locations if you are confident that you know what a good deal is.
Furthermore, you can always attempt to withdraw money for a local ATM and use your travel credit card when you arrive at your destination country. Traveling can be exciting and an experience to remember if you have the right currency. Now that you have your cash, it should be smooth sailing from here.