A multi-currency account(MCA) lets you hold and spend a balance in a range of international currencies. That can be handy when you travel, and also when you shop with international ecommerce retailers, or need to send and receive payments overseas. Getting the right multi-currency account can save you time and money - but there are lots of products available, so shopping around is the smart way to get the best one for you.
This guide tells you all you need to know about the multi-currency accounts available from DBS. We’ll also touch on the Wise multi-currency account as an alternative which can offer a broader range of currencies, and fees up to 6x lower than your regular bank.
Many of the accounts offered by DBS can be used to hold, save and spend multiple currencies. These include:¹
- My Account or Multiplier Account
- DBS eMulti-Currency Autosave and Autosave Plus
- Multi-Currency Autosave and Autosave Plus
- Expatriate eMulti-Currency Autosave and Autosave Plus account
It’s useful to know that DBS organises accounts by customer status and need. So some accounts are available only to Singapore citizens and PRs, with others designed for expat customers. Check out the eligibility carefully when you’re choosing a product, to make sure it suits your needs.
The different accounts listed above may have different fees, including service fees, fall below fees and overdraft fees. However, the charges relating to foreign currency services are typically the same across all account types.²
If you’re living in Singapore and need a multi-currency account for day to day spending, the key DBS account products to know about are the DBS My Account and the DBS Multiplier Account.
The other account types listed above are more specialist products which can have enhanced multi-currency functionality when you link them with an eligible DBS debit card.
Let’s take a quick look at the My Account and the Multiplier Account as a starting point.
The DBS My Account³ won a recent award as a multi-currency account option which offers flexibility and ease of use. You can customise the way your account works, linking any of a whopping 150 different banking services according to your needs.
For foreign currency requirements you can hold and exchange up to 13 currencies using the digital banking feature. You’ll also be able to link your account to a Visa debit card which gives access to foreign currency travel wallets when spending overseas.
Hold, transact and save up to 13 currencies, and earn increasing interest on your balance the more you access DBS services⁴. The interest you earn could be up to 3%, depending on how you use your account.
Account holders can benefit from free or lower fee international transfer to select destinations - although there may still be costs included in the exchange rates applied. More on that later.
Customers wishing to open a Multiplier account must be 18 years or older. There is no age limit for the My Account. It can also be opened as a joint account - a useful option if you’re opening an account for a child who is not entitled to hold an account alone. Both accounts are available to Singapore citizens, PRs, and foreigners in Singapore who hold valid passes, including people on employment, dependent and student passes, and LTVP holders.
Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents will have to provide:
- A copy of the front and back of your NRIC
- Proof of address
Foreigners in Singapore will need to show:
- Passport or Malaysian IC
- Proof of employment or study - a valid, government issued pass
- Proof of address
Use your DBS MCA to transact in up to 13 currencies including Singapore, US, Canadian, Hong Kong, Australian and New Zealand dollars, euros, British pounds, Japanese yen, Thai baht, Swedish krona, Norwegian kroner and Chinese renminbi offshore.
Whenever you send or spend foreign currencies, it’s smart to look at the exchange rates being used. A bad rate can mean you pay way more than you need to for your purchase or payment.
Most currency exchange for the accounts highlighted above will use the DBS exchange rate⁶ - which you can find online on the DBS website. If you’re spending a foreign currency you don’t hold you may find the exchange rate used is the one set by the card network - Visa, for example. You’ll probably have to pay a foreign transaction fee in this case, which can be as much as 3.25%. More on the fees you need to know about later.
Compare the DBS exchange rate against the mid-market rate - which you can find on Google - to see if any markup or margin has been added for your destination currency. If it has you may be better off with an alternative provider, like Wise, which uses mid-market exchange rate for all currency conversion
Keep reading for more on the Wise multi-currency account and card.
There’s no minimum balance for the DBS My Account. For the Multiplier you may pay a fall below fee if your SGD balance falls below S$3,000. There are also separate minimum balance requirements for foreign currency balances.
Here are the costs you need to know about:
|Service||DBS multi-currency account fee²|
|Account opening fee||Free|
|Fall below or service fee||My Account has a $2/month charge if you need paper statements Multiplier Account may include a fall below fee of $5/month if your balance falls below $3,000. This is waived if you’re under 29 years old, or open this account online as a first account with DBS|
|Local ATM withdrawal fee||Free for DBS or POSB ATM withdrawals - other operators may impose fees|
|Overseas ATM withdrawal fee||Overseas ATM withdrawal fees may apply, depending on the card you select. Standard cards have a SGD7/withdrawal fee, plus foreign transaction fee ATM withdrawal fee may be waived if you use a partner bank|
|ATM withdrawal limit||Standard is set at SGD2,000 - you can alter your own limits for many cards|
|Currency exchange costs||Currency exchange uses the DBS exchange rate which may include a markup - an extra fee|
|Foreign transaction fee||If you’re spending in a currency you don’t hold, you may pay a foreign transaction fee of 3.25%⁷|
|Cost to send and receive international payments||Sending international payments: SGD5-SGD35 for payments through iBanking - varies according to the transaction value 1/8% (SGD10-SGD120) for other payments In both cases, cable charges of SGD20 + agent bank costs pay also apply Receiving international payments: SGD10 handling fee|
If you’re a Singapore citizen, PR, or foreigner with a valid pass, you may be able to apply online. You’ll need to upload copies of all the documents outlined above according to your situation. If you don’t have all the paperwork available you may still be able to open an account by visiting a DBS branch.
It’s worth knowing that POSB customers can also access DBS multi-currency account products. In fact, if you bank with POSB and require foreign currency services, you’ll be directed right to the DBS currency conversion information page.
You can link a range of several DBS Visa debit cards to your multi-currency account or travel wallet, to get a full range of overseas card services.
Shopping around is the best way to find a multi-currency account which suits your needs and comes with the lowest fees and best possible exchange rate. You’re not limited to only offers from major Singapore banks. Modern digital providers offer smart international accounts which can come with lower fees.
Let’s take a look at how DBS stacks up against the Wise multi-currency account as an example.
|Service||Wise multi-currency account fee||DBS multi-currency account fee|
|Fall below fee/service fee||Not applicable||Fall below or regular fees may apply depending on the account type|
|Available currencies||50+||12 + Singapore dollar|
|International ATM withdrawal costs||First 2 withdrawals a month, to the value of SGD350 are free 1.75% fee applies after that||SGD7|
|Cost to send an international payment||Low, transparent fee||SGD5-SGD120 + SGD20 cable charges + any agent charges Cost varies by value and the way the transfer is arranged|
|Cost to receive an international payment||Free to receive payments||SGD10|
|Exchange rate||The real mid-market exchange rate with no markup||DBS rate which may include a markup|
Getting the right multi-currency account can make life easier if you enjoy travel or shopping with companies based overseas. Check out the various options available from DBS and compare them with a few other account types, including the online Wise multi-currency account, to make sure you find the perfect fit for your needs.
- Multi Currency Accounts Interest Rates | DBS Singapore
- Deposit Accounts & Services For Individuals
- My Account - Multi-currency account | DBS Singapore
- DBS Multiplier | DBS Singapore
- Documents Required for Account Opening | DBS Singapore
- Foreign Currencies, Foreign Exchange Rates | DBS Singapore
- Important Notes for DBS/POSB Debit Cards
- Foreign Exchange Rates
- Wise account pricing: What are the fees?
Sources checked on 24th June 2021
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