Comparison of best credit cards for overseas spending in Singapore (2023)

Hannes Ausmees

If you love to travel or shop with international ecommerce stores you may be looking for ways to cut the costs of cross border spending. As regular credit cards often charge international transaction fees, getting a specialist card designed for spending in a foreign currency can mean you save.

This guide walks through some of the best credit cards for overseas spending available in Singapore. As credit card overseas charges can be fairly high, we’ll also introduce an alternative - the Wise card. The Wise card is a debit card, not a credit card, which means there’s no interest to pay and no minimum income requirement, plus you get mid-market rate currency conversion for overseas spending. More on that later.

Table of contents


What to look out for when choosing a credit card for overseas spending

We’ll walk through some of Singapore’s best international credit card options one by one in a moment, with a comparison and more details to check and compare. However, it’s worth investing a bit of time thinking about what’s important for you in a credit card for overseas spending - so you’ll be able to pick the perfect card for your needs.

Credit card overseas charges - foreign transaction fees

If you love to shop overseas with ecommerce retailers, look for a low foreign transaction fee. Foreign transaction fees are added onto your bill every time you spend in a foreign currency, often pushing up your costs by 3% or more.

As most credit cards will have a foreign transaction fee to pay, one common tactic is to look for the card which has the highest cashback on international purchases. This can also be good if rewards are important to you - but you’ll need to compare the costs with the benefits to see if they really balance out.

In general, looking for a credit card with the lowest foreign transaction fee - or picking an alternative like the Wise card, which has no foreign transaction fees - works best.

Exchange rate

If you’re planning on getting a credit card for overseas use, it’s important to know the exchange rate that’ll be used to convert your spending to SGD. Usually this is the network rate - so Visa, Mastercard or American Express for example. Network exchange rates are pretty fair, but the overall cost is then inflated if there’s a foreign transaction fee tagged onto overseas purchases.

To see how your card network rate shapes up, it’s helpful to compare it to the mid-market rate, which is the rate the card network gets when buying and selling currencies in the first place. Check out the network rate for your card type online, and compare it to the mid-market rate (same rate you see on Google) to see if any markup or extra fee has been tucked away here.

ATM fees and DCC

If you’ll be making ATM withdrawals or buying foreign currency in cash, check if there’s a cash advance fee payable - this can push up the costs significantly. Cash advance fees are usually a percentage of the withdrawal value, subject to high minimum amounts. Interest may also accrue instantly, and can be at a higher rate compared to purchases.

The other thing to watch out for is DCC - dynamic currency conversion. This is where the ATM asks you if you want to pay in SGD instead of the local currency wherever you are. If you agree you’ll get a less favourable exchange rate, paying even more for your foreign currency spending

Learn more about how to avoid DCC

Benefits and rewards

One of the major perks of a credit card is the option to earn while you spend.

If you expect to travel often you might want to choose a card which offers Air Miles and travel related perks like airport lounge access or insurance. On the other hand, if your card will be for local use as well as international, look for the best cashback across both local and cross border purchases, and any specific discounts and offers which suit your habits. Weigh up the costs of your card against the benefits you could accrue to check it’s worthwhile.

Best credit cards for overseas spending comparison - Overview

To give you some inspiration and kickstart your search, we’ll look at 5 credit cards from different providers, comparing them across key features and fees.

We’ve also included a look at the Wise card in the comparison as an extra. The Wise card isn’t a credit card, it’s a debit card, which means it comes with different benefits and drawbacks, features and fees, which you may want to compare alongside your credit card options.

Foreign transaction feesATM withdrawal feesExchange rateAnnual fees / eligibility requirementsRewards
Wise card (debit card)No foreign transaction fee2 withdrawals to 350 SGD/month fee free¹²

1.5 SGD + 1.75% after that
Mid-market rate, conversion fees from 0.43%No annual fee

No minimum salary requirement
Partner merchant offers available
DBS® Altitude Card¹Up to 3.25%²15 SGD or 8% cash advance feeVisa® /AmEx rate + foreign transaction fee194.40 SGD annual fee

Salary requirement: 30,000 SGD for Singapore citizen, 45,000 SGD for foreigner
Up to 10 miles per dollar spend on travel purchases
Citi® PremierMiles Card³Up to 3.25%⁴15 SGD or 6% cash advance feeMastercard® rate + foreign transaction fee194.40 SGD annual fee Salary requirement: 30,000 SGD for Singapore citizen, 42,000 SGD for foreigner2 miles per dollar on foreign currency spend, 1 mile per dollar on other spend
UOB® PRVI Miles Card⁵3.25%⁶15 SGD or 8% cash advance feeAmEx rate + foreign transaction fee259.20 SGD annual fee

Salary requirement: 30,000 SGD for Singapore citizen, 40,000 SGD for foreigner
Up to 6 miles per dollar on travel spend, 1.4 miles per dollar locally, some complimentary insurance offered
CIMB® Visa Signature Card⁷3.25%⁸15 SGD or 8% cash advance feeVisa rate + foreign transaction feeNo annual fee

Salary requirement: 30,000 SGD for Singapore citizen

Other applicants can apply for a secured card
Up to 10% cash back on select spending, travel insurance and benefits
KrisFlyer Credit Card (American Express®)⁹2.95%¹⁰5%AmEx rate + foreign transaction fee178.20 SGD annual fee

Salary requirement not disclosed; subject to credit checks
Up to 3.1 KrisFlyer miles per dollar, 1.1 miles on local spending

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

Wise card

Wise doesn’t offer credit cards, but the Wise international debit card is a great option for frequent travellers and anyone who spends in foreign currencies regularly.

You can open a Wise account online or in the Wise app, add money in SGD and spend in 40+ currencies with the mid-market exchange rate and low fees from 0.43%¹¹. Either exchange to the currency you need within your account in advance, or let the Wise card automatically convert to the currency you need to pay at the point of purchase.

There’s no annual fee, no minimum income requirement, and you’ll get some fee free ATM withdrawals every month¹².

  • Issued on Visa network for global use
  • Spend in 160+ countries with the mid-market exchange rate and no foreign transaction fee to pay
  • No annual or ongoing fees, no minimum balance
  • Up to 350 SGD/month in international ATM withdrawals fee free, with low costs after that
  • Debit card, not a credit card - so no interest or penalty fees to worry about

Order your Wise card today! 💳

DBS Altitude Card

As you’d expect DBS offers a broad range of credit cards, including some with perks for travellers and people who spend in foreign currencies regularly. The Altitude card has a good balance of cashback for local spend, with extra cashback available when you’re booking trips abroad, or spending in a foreign currency.

However, there are fees you’ll need to consider, including a 3.25% foreign transaction fee and a cash advance fee if you make ATM withdrawals.

  • Cards offered on both Visa and American Express networks
  • Up to 10 miles per dollar on travel spending, 2.2 miles per SGD spend on other eligible retail spend
  • Points never expire and can be redeemed for travel perks and benefits
  • 3% foreign transaction fee on AmEx cards; 3.25% foreign transaction fee for Visa cards
  • Possible to waive the annual fee if you use the card regularly enough

Citi PremierMiles Card

Citi’s PremierMiles Card offers double the miles earning for overseas spending compared to SGD spend, which can be attractive. You’ll also get lots of travel related perks like lounge access, discounts on holiday bookings and exclusive benefits from time to time.

Bear in mind the foreign transaction, annual and cash advance fees which can push up the overall costs here.

  • On Mastercard network for good global coverage
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar when you spend abroad, and 1 mile per dollar at home
  • Bonus miles available on sign up, plus some extra promotions from time to time
  • Points never expire and can be redeemed for travel perks and benefits
  • Travel discounts and lounge access available

UOB PRVI Miles Card

The UOB PRVI Miles Card is a fairly flexible option which allows you to earn 1.4 miles per dollar at home, with boosted earning rates overseas and when spending on travel with select UOB partners. There are also handy benefits like some insurance, although you’ll have to remember to activate this before you travel to qualify.

Compare the cash back or miles earning options against the overall fees, costs and foreign transaction charges before you sign up.

  • Card on the American Express network, which has fairly good global cover
  • Possible to out down a 10,000 SGD deposit if you don’t meet minimum income requirements
  • High mile earning on eligible travel spend, with some miles still offered on local spending
  • Redeem rewards for miles, cash back or vouchers depending on your preference
  • Some insurance offered for medical and emergency support when on holiday
  • Bonus, welcome and exclusive offers available

CIMB Visa Signature Card

CIMB promotes its Visa Signature Card for Singapore citizens and PRs, although you may also be able to get a secured card with a deposit of 10,000 SGD if you find you don’t qualify under the other eligibility routes. There’s the option to earn a high cash abc of 10% on selected categories, with some extra travel benefits like complimentary insurance and concierge services.

  • Cards offered on Visa network, well supported globally
  • 10% cash back offer on some spending categories, with some opportunities for cash back on other categories too
  • Travel insurance included
  • No annual fee to pay
  • Salary eligibility information online is only for Singapore citizens and PR; if you’re a foreign resident you’ll need to contact CIMB for more details on eligibility

KrisFlyer Credit Card (AmEx)

If you frequently fly with Singapore Airlines (SIA) you may like the KrisFlyer Credit Card from AmEx. You’ll get some extra benefits when you sign up and can then earn miles on local spend, with boosted earning rates on some categories, including Grab. The annual fee is waived in the first year which is a benefit but there are still other costs to consider when you choose this product, including foreign transaction fees.

  • American Express network card
  • Earn KrisFlyer miles on local and overseas spending
  • Slightly lower foreign transaction and annual fees compared to some featured cards
  • Annual fee can be waived in year 1
  • Some extra SIA benefits available for new customers
  • American Express is not as globally popular as a network compared to Visa and Mastercard - check your destination is likely to accept it

Summary: which card is the best for overseas spending in Singapore?

There’s no single best credit card for overseas spending - your choice will come down to your spending habits and personal preferences.

Whichever card you select, also check out the Wise card as a smart way to spend at home and abroad - and make withdrawals when you travel - using the mid-market exchange rate with no foreign transaction fees. You might find you can save.

Wise sign up

  1. DBS Altitude Visa Card
  2. DBS card fees
  3. Citi PremierMiles Visa Card
  4. Citi card fees
  5. UOB PRVI Miles Card
  6. UOB card members agreement
  7. CIMB Visa Signature
  8. CIMB card fees
  9. KrisFlyer Credit Card (AmEx)
  10. AmEx fees
  11. 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
  12. Wise will not charge you for these withdrawals, but some additional charges may occur from independent ATM networks.

Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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