MAE vs BigPay vs Wise: Which is the best multi-currency card in Malaysia?

Hannes Ausmees

Looking for a smart multi-currency card and account to help you manage your finances across currencies? Whether you’re planning to travel, need to hold, receive and spend in foreign currencies, or just love to shop online with foreign retailers, there’s a perfect fit out there for you.

Here in Malaysia, great multi-currency card and account options include MAE by Maybank¹, BigPay² and Wise. But which suits you best? Join us as we explore MAE vs BigPay vs Wise, looking at what these providers offer, and how they compare.

Table of contents

What is a multi-currency card?

A multi-currency card works in a similar way to your regular debit or credit card for payments and withdrawals. The key difference is that multi-currency cards have been designed to make it easier and more flexible to spend foreign currencies, often offering neat features like low cost currency conversion and international transfers, as well as day to day spending.

Each of the providers we’re looking at - MAE, BigPay and Wise - offers a great multi-currency card for Malaysian citizens and residents. However, they’re all different, so which one suits you best might depend on how you’re planning on using it.

MAE vs BigPay vs Wise - main comparison

So what is the difference between the MAE card vs BigPay vs Wise? We’ll get into the detail about each provider in just a moment - but first let’s split them out in a head to head feature comparison.

MAEBigPayWise
EligibilityMalaysian residentsMalaysian and Singaporean residentsPersonal and business customers, in most countries around the world
Currencies available to hold and exchangeMYR onlyMYR only (for BigPay Malaysia card holders)40+ currencies including MYR
Maintenance fees8 MYR annual fee to get MAE card³No maintenance fee but you’ll need 20 MYR to open the account - this is yours to spend later⁵No maintenance fee; one off 13.7 MYR fee to get a card⁷
ATM feesFree at Maybank ATMS

1 MYR at MEPS ATMs

12 MYR at Plus ATMs
6 MYR locally⁶

10 MYR internationally
2 withdrawals to 1,000 MYR/month free⁹

5 MYR + 1.75% after that
Foreign transaction feeCan vary based on transaction type - QR code payments include an exchange rate margin, for exampleUp to 1% + network feeNone

If you don’t hold the currency you need you can convert with low fees from 0.41%
Fees to send money overseasSend from the MAE app to Cambodia for 10 MYR⁴

Other transfers processed using the Maybank2u online banking service
Up to 22 MYR based on destinationLow fees from 0.43%
Other featuresBudgeting and expense management features

Easy ways to spend with local merchants in-app
Budgeting features

Available in both Malaysia and Singapore
Send payments to 80+ countries

Local account details for 10 currencies

Pricing/fees: Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information

What is MAE by Maybank2u?

MAE is Maybank’s app based e-wallet and card, which allows you to hold MYR and spend or withdraw internationally. To apply for MAE you’ll need to be a Malaysian resident, but if you’re eligible you’ll be able to get everything set up in-app easily enough.

Add funds to MAE or link to another Maybank account for automatic top ups, and get budgeting and expense tools, ways to save on your own or in a group, options to request payments from other MAE users and more⁸.

Pros ✅Cons ❌
  • No fee to open MAE account
  • Fast ways to pay with your card or by scanning a QR code
  • Set group savings goals and track your expenses
  • Card and app can be used internationally
  • 8 MYR annual fee to get a MAE card
  • You’ll need to inform Maybank of your travel plans if you want to use MAE abroad
  • Up to 12 MYR ATM withdrawal fee

Want to learn more about MAE and how to apply? Get the full MAE by Maybank review here.

What is BigPay?

BigPay is a popular e-wallet in both Malaysia and Singapore, which comes with a linked physical and virtual card. You’ll be able to hold MYR only, but can use your card to spend and withdraw internationally, and can also send payments overseas to select countries.

bigpay-homepage

When you spend with your card you can earn AirAsia points, and there’s no need to tell BigPay you’re travelling - your card is already set up for international use automatically.

Pros ✅Cons ❌
  • Free to download app, no fee to get a card
  • Send international payments to select countries
  • Spend internationally with physical and virtual card
  • Popular and trusted app in both Malaysia and Singapore
  • 6 - 10 MYR ATM withdrawal fee
  • Fees of up to 1% apply when spending in foreign currencies
  • You’ll need to deposit 20 MYR to apply for a card

Learn more in our full BigPay Malaysia review.

What is Wise (formerly TransferWise)?

If you’re looking for a bit more from your e-wallet and multi-currency card, Wise might suit you. You’ll be able to hold 40+ currencies, and get local bank details to receive fee free (except USD wire transfers) payments in up to 10 currencies, including MYR. Order a Wise card, and it’s free to spend any currency you hold. If you don’t have the currency you need, you’ll get the mid-market exchange rate and low conversion fees from 0.41%.

Wise-card

The Wise account and international card comes with all you need to spend, send, and receive payments in foreign currencies. Make payments - fast - to 80+ countries, spend in 150+ countries, and get paid like a local from 30+ countries. Once you have a balance in your account you can switch to any of the supported 40+ currencies with the mid-market rate and low, transparent fees - to withdraw back to your regular MYR account, or ready for the next time you head abroad.

Pros ✅Cons ❌
  • Free to open a personal account
  • Hold 40+ currencies, and spend any of them for free
  • Currency conversion uses the mid-market rate and low fees from 0.43%
  • No foreign transaction fee to pay
  • Pay 13.7 MYR one off fee to get a Wise card
  • No branch network, so no option to get face to face service

Pricing/fees: Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information

MAE vs BigPay vs Wise: Fees and charges

What you pay to use your multi-currency card is important. Keeping costs down means you have more money to enjoy. Here’s how MAE vs BigPay vs Wise compares across costs and fees:

MAEBigPayWise
Fees to get a card8 MYR annual feeNo maintenance feeOne off 13.7 MYR fee
Opening deposit requirementNone required20 MYRNone required
Top up feesNo fee to top up in MYR1 MYR + 2% for cash top ups Up to 1% for credit card top upsFree to add funds in 10 currencies with local bank details
ATM feesFree at Maybank ATMS

1 MYR at MEPS ATMs

12 MYR at Plus ATMs
6 MYR locally 10 MYR internationally2 withdrawals to 1,000 MYR/month free⁹ 5 MYR + 1.75% after that
Foreign transaction feeCan vary based on transaction type - QR code payments include an exchange rate margin, for exampleUp to 1% + network feeNone

If you don’t hold the currency you need you can convert with low fees from 0.41%
Fees to send money overseasSend from the MAE app to Cambodia for 10 MYR

Other transfers processed using the Maybank2u online banking service
Up to 22 MYR based on destinationLow fees from 0.41%

Pricing/fees: Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information

Exchange rates

If you want a multi-currency card to help you cut the costs of spending in foreign currencies, you’ll also need to understand how the exchange rate used to convert your MYR to the currency you need is set.

Wise uses the mid-market exchange rate to convert between currencies - whether that’s when you spend with your card, send a payment or switch between balances in your Wise account. The mid-market rate is the one banks and currency conversion services get when they buy foreign currency on global markets - and the rate you’ll usually find on Google.

If you’re spending with either MAE or BigPay you might find you’ll pay a currency conversion fee or foreign transaction fee when you spend overseas.

BigPay’s fees are set at up to 1%, plus network charges. That means the exchange rate you get can include some extra charges - making it trickier to see exactly what you’re paying when you transact internationally.

MAE might also add a fee to the exchange rate that’s used for your overseas spending. That depends on the transaction type, so you’ll need to check the details in-app before you spend, to make sure you’re clear on the rates available.


Summary: Which should you choose in Malaysia?

All three providers - MAE, BigPay and Wise - have their own great features.

If you’re already a Maybank customer, getting MAE can be convenient as you’ll be able to link your existing MYR Maybank account to MAE for automatic top ups. There are also useful budgeting and expense management tools - but you could find you’re paying extra fees when you’re overseas, including foreign transaction fees and higher ATM withdrawal charges.

BigPay is set up for international use automatically, which is handy. You’ll get a physical and virtual card, which makes it easy to spend and withdraw around the world - plus you can send international payments to select countries and regions. One downside of BigPay is that you can only hold MYR, which means fees apply when you spend overseas, including BigPay’s cost of up to 1% and any charges added by the network.

If you’re looking for a multi-currency account and card with a real international leaning, Wise might be the one for you. Hold 40+ currencies, use your card in 150+ countries, and get local bank details to get paid fee free in 10 currencies. That means you can do more with your Wise account and card - plus you’ll benefit from Wise’s low fees, and get the mid-market exchange rate every time you need to convert from one currency to another. Easy.

Order your Wise card today! 💳


Sources:

  1. MAE
  2. BigPay
  3. MAE Terms and Conditions
  4. Maybank Bakong transfer
  5. BigPay FAQ - opening deposit
  6. BigPay Terms and Conditions
  7. Pricing/fees: Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information
  8. MAE by Maybank FAQ
  9. Wise will not charge you for these withdrawals, but some additional charges may occur from independent ATM networks.

Sources checked on 04/05/2023


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 Wise Payments 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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