Exchanging Foreign Currency in Singapore? Here’s a Way to Decide Which Money Changer to Visit

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Before you head overseas for your end-of-year vacation, you’ll need money. And of course, you’ll head to the nearest money changer to exchange your hard-earned Singapore Dollars into the currency of your destination country.

Smart travellers always do this in advance, because they know two things: firstly, the money changers at Changi Airport are essentially ripping you off, and secondly, there’s always a queue at the best money changers around the island.

 

Wait… what do you mean the money changers at the Airport are ripping me off?

Let’s think about it this way – you’re all packed, everything’s in order, and then you realise that you still haven’t gotten any overseas currency (and you know that using your credit card overseas will incur significant fees). Your only option? The 24-hour money changers at the Airport, all of which are run by banks. They’re conveniently placed at each Terminal, of course, but they also take advantage of your urgency to offer you really poor rates.

 

But even for those who take the time to exchange money early, you could still be losing out

There are almost 400 licensed money changers in Singapore, all over the island. Many of them are independent private businesses, which means they can buy and sell currency at rates determined by them. Sure, you could just head to the one that is most convenient for you, especially if you don’t plan to change a large amount of money. But if you’re going to be changing more than $1,000 in Singapore Dollars, then you could be saving a significant amount of money by shopping around for the best rate.

As an illustration, say you and your friends want to live like royalty in Japan, and you’re looking to get 500,000 Japanese Yen for your upcoming holiday. If one money changer is selling Yen at a rate of 1,000 JPY for S$12.60, then as a group you can expect to exchange S$6,300.00 to get your desired amount. But if another money changer offers a lower rate of 1,000 JPY for $12.50, then you can save S$50 by going to this money changer instead! That’s enough to get one of you a decent omakase meal.

 

But how will we know which money changer has the best rates?

Some money changers have a reputation for consistently giving good rates for some currencies, but the truth of the matter is, there’s really no way of knowing who has the best rates for a particular currency on any given day. Frequent travellers may form groups on social media or forums to update one another, but for the rest of us who travel maybe once or twice a year, we will probably want to get this information quickly and conveniently.

 

Now there’s a site out there which allows you to see money changer rates all over Singapore

It’s called CashChanger and it gives you up-to-date rates for 13 currencies. Started only about 7 months ago, it now provides information from over 80 money changers in Singapore.

 

Wah, only around 80 money changers in Singapore?

Yes, they only have information from 20% of the almost 400 money changers in the country, but among these 80 are some of the more popular money changers, such as those based at The Arcade and People’s Park, so you know you’re still getting the most competitive rates in Singapore. The CashChanger team is working hard to get more money changers listing their rates in Singapore.

 

Who updates the rates on the site and how often do they get updated?

Because this is a free service, it relies on the help of both their money changer partners who can update their own rates directly on the site, as well as a WhatsApp chat community of over 150 members to contribute rates on a daily basis. CashChanger also relies on email updates from the public as well as their live chat widget on the site.

Having so many different sources ensures that the exchange rates are up-to-date and reliable. Since all rate data comes timestamped, the more recent the update, the more reliable the rate. If a money changer’s rate has not been updated on CashChanger for days, chances are their rates would’ve changed by then.

 

Hmmm… I’m looking at their website and it seems like most of their money changers are in town

Because of the number of money changers in the Raffles Place and Harbourfront area, it’s understandable that they would have the most competition and therefore the best rates. But what happens when you’re not interested in travelling across the island to exchange money?

As CashChanger grows, they’re hoping to give you the best rates by area, and they can only do this by getting more money changers on their platform. If your preferred money changer isn’t on CashChanger, show them the site on your mobile and let them know that they can get more business by showcasing their competitive rates online.

In a business that thrives on competition like money changers, it’s important that a comparison site like CashChanger is able to provide as much information as possible, making exchanging currencies transparent and up-to-date.

 

Are there other services like CashChanger in the market today?

Yes, there is a mobile app called Get4x which has been around for a couple of years now. It also claims to be able to provide exchange rates from money changers across the island. They have also recently introduced the ability to “book” a currency exchange rate. This means that you can lock in the rate you want, without having to be present at the money changer. Then, later in the day you can just head down to the money changer to pick it up.

The service is currently available in 8 countries, not just Singapore – they’re also present in Kuala Lumpur, Bali, Pattaya, Phuket, Bangkok, Mumbai and Hong Kong. Moving forward, they’re also planning to list money changers from Jakarta, Johor, Macau, Dubai, Sydney and Melbourne so for all you frequent travellers out there, this could be a key way to save money on your foreign currency exchange.

There are three issues with Get4x however. Firstly, they don’t allow you to see the money changer’s details until you sign in to the app and provide your contact details. Secondly, the rates you see are not actual rates – they’re estimated rates with a (usually) small margin of error. That means you might not actually be seeing the best rates in Singapore.

Thirdly, the “Request to Book” feature isn’t available for most of the popular money changers in Singapore, and at the moment, the app doesn’t really display which money changers allow this feature. This is currently being worked on so hopefully that changes in the near future.

 

Do you have a preferred money changer? Why do you frequent them? Let us know.

Peter Lin

I am the poster boy for reinventing one's self. I've been a broadcast journalist, a technical writer, a banking customer service officer and a Catholic friar. My life experiences have made me the most cynical idealist you'll ever meet, which is why I'm also the co-founder of a local pop culture website. I believe ignorance is not bliss, and that money is the root of all evil only if you allow it to be.

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