Amex foreign transaction fee Singapore: What you should know

Elle Kasser
29.12.20
3 minute read

If you love to travel or shop with retailers based overseas, you need to know about the foreign transaction fee that’s added to your costs when you spend on your credit card.

This is a percentage charge added to all purchases and withdrawals made in a foreign currency - and may come as a surprise if you’ve not read your card terms and conditions carefully.

There’s been a general trend in Singapore for banks and card issuers to raise their foreign transaction fees¹ - and Amex is no exception. This guide covers all you need to know. We’ll also highlight an alternative way to spend abroad for less, using the Wise multi-currency account and card. Let’s get started.

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Amex overseas transaction fees

American Express issues a range of credit cards in Singapore, including premium cards like the Amex Platinum card, Krisflyer cards issued in conjunction with Singapore Airlines, and business credit cards.

In the sample we reviewed (Amex true cashback card², Amex Platinum card³, Amex Capita card⁴ and the Krisflyer card⁵), the foreign transaction fee used is 2.95%.

This is up from the 2.5% which was the Amex standard foreign transaction fee prior to March 2020. You may also pay an additional fee if you use your card to make cash withdrawals under the Amex Cash Express scheme.

Raises like this are common across a range of card issuers and networks in Singapore. In fact, it’s been reported that foreign transaction fees have gone up on cards issued by many banks including DBS, UOB and OCBC, often pushing the overall fee for spending in a foreign currency over the 3% mark.

It’s good to know that there’s an alternative way to cut your costs when you spend overseas and shop with your favourite international ecommerce stores.

Check out the Wise multi-currency account and card which allows you to spend in dozens of different currencies without any foreign transaction fees.

Open your account online, and top up in SGD. Then switch your balance to the currency you need - or allow the autoconvert tool to do it for you. You’ll only ever pay a low, transparent fee for currency conversion which uses the mid-market exchange rate - and there’s no foreign transaction fee at all. This can work out much cheaper than using your credit card overseas.

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What other fees should I know about?

The foreign transaction fee isn’t the only additional cost when you use your credit card overseas. You may also pay additional fees in the form of an exchange rate markup, or as a result of dynamic currency conversion - DCC.


Let’s start with the exchange rate. When you buy something in a foreign currency, the bank or card issuer will decide the exchange rate which is used to convert your purchase back to SGD and charge to your card.

The rate used may not be the same as the one you’d find on Google or using a currency conversion tool. Instead, you might discover an extra fee has been added as a markup to the exchange rate, which pushes up the cost of your international spending. What’s worse is that you won’t know this until you see your credit card bill later down the line - and long after the transaction is actually processed.


The other sneaky charge to watch out for is DCC. This is where you’re abroad, and you’re asked if you want to pay for your purchase or withdrawal in the local currency wherever you are, or your home currency.

It might feel easier to pay in SGD because it will save you the hassle of converting the costs yourself. But opting to pay in your home currency will actually mean you pay more, as a poor exchange rate can be used, and extra fees may also apply.

Always opt to pay in the local currency wherever you are, to get the best deal - and why not learn more about dynamic currency conversion here.


Spending using your card when you’re abroad or shopping online is convenient - but you might find you’re paying more than you think for your international purchases. Take a look at the Wise multi-currency account and card as a smart way to cut the costs of travel and international spending. By paying less in fees, you’ll have more left to treat yourself.


Sources:

  1. Mileion - OCBC increasing foreign currency transaction fee to 3.25% from December 2019
  2. Amex True Cashback Card - Page 4 of PDF linked under ‘Cardmember Agreement and Benefits Terms and Conditions’
  3. Amex Platinum Credit Card - Page 11 of PDF linked under ‘Cardmember Agreement and Benefits Terms and Conditions’
  4. Amex CapitaCard - Page 12 of PDF linked under ‘Cardmember Agreement and Benefits Terms and Conditions’
  5. Amex Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card - Page 19 of PDF linked under ‘Cardmember Agreement and Benefits Terms and Conditions’

Sources checked on 18 December 2020


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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