Best Foreign Currency Accounts in Malaysia

Hannes Ausmees
27.04.22
7 minute read

With so many Malaysians working, studying and traveling abroad, banks and companies are offering new ways to hold foreign currencies right here at home in a multi-currency account.

Some of the major banks offer ways to hold foreign currency as an investment, while others provide debit cards that you can use as you travel. A multi-currency account can also be helpful for parents whose kids are going to school overseas or to hold remittances. In either and all cases, it's good to know what to look for when choosing a multi-currency account.

One of the main things to look at when deciding between multi-currency accounts is fees. Some accounts will have annual fees, minimums, transaction fees or just one currency conversion fee. The next thing is to look at the exchange rate. As these accounts are all about converting Ringgit, it matters what exchange rate you are getting.

The mid-market rate is the rate that banks use themselves, but most times banks are giving you a rate that is higher than the mid-market. In that way, it can be a sneaky way to hide a fee within the exchange rate. Lastly, but not least, which currencies does the account offer? Sometimes banks will only focus on the major markets globally, while others give you reach and breadth to make moving around globally easier. So read on to learn about the best multi-currency accounts in Malaysia.

Account opening feeMinimum deposit requiredAnnual feeMinimum balanceTransaction chargeCurrencies available
Wise NoneNoneNoneNo minimum balanceNone, only a currency conversion feeCan hold 50+ currencies, can transact in 150+ global currencies
RHB RM 20 fee to get debit cardUSD 200 or currency equivalentRM 20No minimum balance1%JPY, GBP, SGD, AUD, NZD, EUR, USD, CHF, HKD, CAD, SAR, ZAR, THB
Hong Leong Bank NoneUSD 1,000 or currency equivalentRM 60No minimum balanceRM 10USD, CAD, AUD, GBP, CNH, EUR, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD
Public Bank Berhad NoneUSD 1,000 or currency equivalentRM 30No minimum balanceCurrency equivalent of USD 1USD, GBP, AUD, EUR, HKD, NZD, SGD, JPY, CNY, CHF, THB, CAD
Maybank Master Foreign Currency Account None1,000 USD or currency equivalentNone5,000 USD minimum balance to earn interest4 USDAUD, JPY, GBP, USD, HKD, NZD, CAD, DKK, SEK, CHF, EUR, SGD, AED, QAR, THB, CNY
CIMB Bank Current Account NoneUSD 1,000RM 12No minimum balance.6-1%USD
CIMB Bank Savings Account NoneUSD 1,000 or currency equivalentRM 12No minimum balance.50-.70%USD, AUD, EUR, GBP, JPY
HSBC Card fees may applyUSD 1,000 or currency equivalentFall below fee may apply if you hold a balance under 20,000 RMBelow RM 20,000 has a fee of RM 10 per monthApprox. USD 4 or currency equivalentUSD, GBP, AUD, SGD, EUR, YEN, BND, CAD, CHF, NZD, HKD and CNY

Wise multi-currency account

Wise has changed the game with one of the largest global reach and some of the lowest fees for a multi-currency account

  • You can hold 50+ currencies, and transact in 150+ global currencies
  • You get the same exchange rate you see on Google and only a low currency conversion fee
  • An online multi-currency account without physical locations

Wise’s multi-currency account offers one of the most extensive coverage of global currencies compared to the banks. You get 50+ currencies that you can hold, and a debit Visa card to spend as you travel. Wise uses smart technology to cut completely down on fees, so there is no annual fee, minimum balance fees or minimum deposits required.

There is a just a currency conversion fee when you move from Ringgit to another currency. You can also get local bank details to receive money in 10 currencies including MYR, SGD, USD, AUD, CAD, NZD, HUF, TRY, EUR and GBP with the Wise multi-currency account. Wise operates completely online, so there are no branches to go to, but you can sign up and get a free online account easily

Learn more about Wise

RHB multi-currency account

One of the more up to date accounts, RHB comes with a debit card for ease of use abroad and lets you convert between currencies

  • You can hold up to 16 different currencies, including SGD, USD, GBP and EUR.
  • Ability to convert foreign currency into Ringgit in account
  • A minimum deposit of USD 200 or currency equivalent

The RHB Multi-Currency Account is an interest-bearing account that lets you hold 16 different currencies. More attuned to how people travel, unlike some other foreign currency accounts, RHB provides a debit card to use on the go. Beyond the traditional Western and major market currencies available, RHB also gives you access to currencies in the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia Pacific region. Plus you can convert between the currencies that they have on offer.

But all these features do come with fees. There are fees to get the debit card, per card use, for ATM withdrawals and annual fees. So while it can be easier than some other banks, it can still cost you to use the account. If you don’t need the debit card, you can sign up for their Multi-Currency Account that then gives you access to an additional 4 currencies.²

Learn more about the RHB multi-currency account here.

Hong Leong multi-currency account

One of the banks with the lowest amount of currencies on offer, Hong Leong isn’t providing much beyond standard features or options to be competitive in the multi-currency field.

  • You can hold currency in USD, CAD, AUD, GBP, CNH, EUR, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD
  • There is an annual service charge, and transaction fees every time you use the account
  • Has limited options for the Southeast Asia region

Hong Leong offers a Foreign Currency Savings Account. It is suited for Malaysians working overseas, business travelers, parents of students studying abroad and those that travel often. With the Savings account, you have the ability to hold money in 10 different currencies and get preferential foreign exchange rates.

But that still means the exchange rate is set by Hong Leong itself. When you do want to make a transaction, you will be hit with a fee of RM 10.00, and there is a fee of RM 30.00 twice a year. On top of that, you are required to hold a minimum balance of the currency equivalent of USD 1,000. If you are looking for a basic foreign currency savings account, this may do the trick, but it can feel limiting and expensive. ³

Ready to read more? Get a full HLB multi-currency account review here.

Public Bank Berhad multi-currency account

The PB Foreign Currency Current Account is a bit strict on use, as you won’t get an ATM card or checkbook with this account

  • You can open the account in NZD, GBP, AUD, USD, EUR, JPY, HKD, CHF, SGD, THB, CNY or CAD
  • A minimum deposit of USD 1,000 or equivalent is required
  • Available for businesses and individuals

Public Bank Berhad has a PB Foreign Currency Current Account that you can maintain in one of the foreign currencies listed above. You can make and receive payments using this account, under the rules of the Foreign Exchange Administration Rules and Bank Negara Malaysia. But you don’t receive a chequebook or an ATM card with this account so it’s not ideal for day to day use.

As far as fees, there is an account maintenance fee that is paid annually of RM 30. Plus, there are individual transaction charges depending on the currency you are using that can range from USD 1 to THB 36. While there is a minimum initial deposit of USD 1,000 to open, there is no minimum balance required to maintain⁴.

Read more about the Public Bank Berhad multi-currency account in this handy guide.

Maybank Master Foreign Currency Account

The Maybank Master Foreign Currency account is available in a range of currencies, but intended for people who want to hold and make payments in foreign currencies, rather than for day to day spending.

  • Open an account in one of 16 foreign currencies
  • Make payments through Maybank branches
  • Get free personal accident insurance based on the amount of balance you hold

Open your Maybank multi-currency account with a minimum opening deposit of 1,000 USD or the currency equivalent. The Maybank Master Foreign Currency account has transaction fees which are based on the currencies being used - usually the equivalent of 4 USD per transaction. There’s no ATM card with this account, so it’s not really useful for people travelling frequently - although it might be handy for anyone who wants to hold a foreign currency balance and minimise the risks of currency market fluctuations⁵.

Read more about the Maybank Master Foreign Currency Account here.

CIMB multi-currency account

CIMB offers two types of multi-currency accounts, but holders may find that it has one of the lowest numbers of currency options

  • Free USD Cheque book with Current Account
  • You can hold USD, AUD, EUR, GBP and JPY in the Savings Account.
  • Minimum of USD 1,000, or currency equivalent to open

CIMB offers both a Foreign Currency Current Account and a Foreign Currency Savings Account. The Foreign Currency Current Account is only available in USD, while the Savings Account lets you hold money in USD, AUD, EUR, GBP, and JPY. The minimum age to apply for the Current account is 21, while for the Savings account it is 18 years old.

Both accounts let you deposit and withdraw money using cheques, demand drafts or Electronic Funds Transfer. The Savings account lets you invest, trade, receive and pay in the 5 currencies listed. But if you are looking for a more global account, that also takes into account regional countries, you may want to look at another option.⁶

HSBC multi-currency account

The global bank HSBC can be a strong option with a diverse amount of currencies, but even so, the fees can be some of the highest out there

  • You can hold currency in USD, GBP, AUD, SGD, EUR, YEN, BND, CAD, CHF, NZD, HKD and CNY
  • A high minimum deposit of 1,000 USD or equivalent
  • Fall below fees apply if you hold a balance of under 20,000 MYR or equivalent

HSBC’s Foreign Currency Account, or CombiNations Account, is a savings account that lets you hold money in 12 different currencies. HSBC recommends it as an account for parents of students studying abroad, those working abroad or receiving remittances. You can begin to move your Ringgit into one of the 12 foreign currencies and hold it in the currency you need now or for the future. It can also be used to repatriate money from offshore Foreign Currency Accounts.

To open an account comes with a minimum deposit amount depending on the currency you want to hold. There is also an ability to hold a Fixed Term Deposit of 1-2 months. But when it comes to fees, they can be on the high side, even for a specialist account product. That means less in your pocket for travel and spending abroad⁷.

Summary

Hopefully this roundup gives you a flavour for the type of multi-currency account product available in Malaysia, from a range of online and brick and mortar providers. If you’re still not sure which one will suit you best, you can also read more about multi currency accounts in Malaysia, in this handy guide.


Sources used for this article:

  1. Wise
  2. RHB
  3. Hong Leong
  4. PB Berhad
  5. Maybank
  6. CIMB
  7. HSBC

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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