Credit Cards

10 Best Credit Cards for Overseas Spending For Pro Travellers (2019)

overseas foreign currency spending credit card singapore

Clara Lim


So you’ve been saving up your annual leave and spending every hour searching for cheap air tickets online. And now, it’s time to embark on well-deserved overseas holiday. But before you blow the rest of your cash on your trip, make sure you get yourself one of these best travel credit cards in Singapore.

“Wait, why can’t I just use my usual credit card?” you ask. You can, of course, but you should first check the T&Cs. Not all credit cards give you the same generous cash rebates or rewards points on overseas spending.

Another reason you might want to get a dedicated travel credit card is that the foreign currency transaction fee (which varies from bank to bank and sometimes even credit card to credit card) may erode whatever rebates you’re currently getting.

In short: Use the wrong credit card on holiday, and you’ll come back to a depressing credit card bill. Let’s see which credit card is best for travel.


10 best credit cards for overseas use when you travel 2019

Credit card Overseas spending rewards Foreign currency fee T&Cs
CIMB Visa Signature 10% cashback on dining & nightlife, online spend 3% Minimum spend $600 / cap $100
CIMB Platinum Mastercard 10% cashback on travel, beauty & spas, transport 3% Minimum spend $600 / cap $100
UOB YOLO Card 8% / 3% cashback on dining, entertainment, Grab 2.8% Minimum spend $600 / cap $60
BOC Zaobao Card 5% cashback in mainland China 3%
0% for RMB
Minimum spend $600 / cap $80
BOC Qoo10 Mastercard 5% Qmoney rebate 3% Minimum spend $600 / cap $80 worth of Qmoney
Amex True Cashback Card 3% cashback 2.5% Valid up to $5,000 for first 6 months only
ICBC Global Travel Mastercard 3% cashback 2.5% No cap
BOC Elite Miles Card $1 = 3 miles 3% No minimum spend, no cap
Citi PremierMiles Card $1 = 2 miles 3% No minimum spend, no cap
UOB PRVI Miles Card $1 = 2.4 miles 3.25% High transaction fee


CIMB Visa Signature & Platinum Mastercard – best travel credit cards

Don’t see Malaysian bank CIMB no up, because the two major credit cards they offer are seriously some of the best for avid travellers, i.e. 99% of Singaporeans.

I’m talking about them in the same breath because I think they’re best used together. Use the CIMB Platinum Mastercard to pay for hotels, flights, travel packages, Grab/Uber rides, and spas. Supplement it with the CIMB Visa Signature for online travel spending (like Klook and Agoda) and when you’re wining and dining overseas. 

Plus, there’s no harm hanging on to both, because CIMB doesn’t charge annual fees for these cards.

CIMB also used to offer the lowest foreign currency transaction fees in town of just 1%, but as of 23 Nov 2018, CIMB is pushing it up to 3%. Boo. That works out to be a nett rebate of 7%, which still beats the competition.

On the other hand, CIMB’s upcoming changes make it easier to hit the juicy 10% (or 7% rebate). Previously, the minimum spending requirement was rather complicated and required quite a bit of micromanaging. But from 23 Nov, you just need to hit a minimum of $600.

The one thing you need to be careful about is that each category cashback is capped at $50 a month. The total cashback you can get each month is $100, which is still very generous.

Key features:

  • 10% cashback on dining & nightlife, online transactions (CIMB Visa Signature)
  • 10% cashback on flights, hotels, travel agencies, spas, salons, transport (CIMB Platinum Mastercard)
  • 3% foreign currency transaction fee
  • Minimum spend $600 in a month
  • Total cashback cap $100, but sub-cap of $50 applies per category


UOB YOLO Card – best for spontaneous weekend getaways

UOB YOLO Credit Card

UOB YOLO Credit Card

Card Benefits

    • 16%* cash rebate on weekend Dining & Entertainment**; 3% cashback on weekday Dining & Entertainment
    • 3% cash rebate on Online Travel^ and fashion
    • Minimum spend: S$600. Cashback cap: S$60/month
    • 1 year principal card fee waiver; no annual fees for first supplementary card
    • Base rate: 0.3% cashback if minimum spend of S$600 is not met

    We’ve covered the local benefits of the UOB YOLO Card pretty extensively already, but what’s often overlooked is that their generous 8% cashback on weekend dining, entertainment and Grab rides apply overseas too.

    That makes the UOB YOLO Card a terrific choice for swiping on weekend getaways to nearby places like JB, KL, Batam, Bintan and Bangkok. (On weekdays, the rebate drops to 3%.)

    Do your hotel and flight bookings online and you’ll get a 3% rebate on them too, making it a good all-rounded travel credit card without the onerous minimum spending requirement.

    Key features:

    • 8% cashback on dining, entertainment, Grab on weekends
    • 3% cashback on dining, entertainment, Grab on weekdays
    • 3% cashback on online travel bookings
    • 2.8% foreign currency transaction fee
    • Minimum spend $600 in a month
    • Cashback cap $60


    BOC Zaobao Card – best for travelling to mainland China

    Always jetting to the Mainland to visit your WeChat buddies and to stock up on Xiaomi electronics? Then the BOC Zaobao Card, despite its fuddy duddy name, should be your go-to travel credit card for China.

    It gives you a cool 5% rebate on all your spending and 0% transaction fees for renminbi. Plus, it’s a UnionPay credit card so there’s no chance of it being declined.

    Oh yes, there’s a minimum spend of $600 a month, but since the card can be used to pay for your hotel too, it shouldn’t be an issue.

    Key features:

    • UnionPay credit card
    • 5% cashback on transactions in mainland China
    • 0% transaction fee for RMB (other currencies 3%)
    • Minimum spend $600 in a month
    • Cashback cap $80


    BOC Qoo10 Mastercard – best for a blowout holiday this year-end

    Hate to sound like a Bank of China fangirl, but BOC’s Qoo10 Mastercard also makes a pretty good travel credit card (and not just for travelling to China).

    You get a 5% Qmoney rebate on all overseas spending and there’s no cashback cap until 31 Dec 2018. I repeat, NO CAP.

    Okay, sure, Qmoney isn’t quite a good as real money, but since most other cashback cards have caps of $60 or $80, you’ll get a better deal with this card if you’re spending a lot.

    Let’s say you take this credit card on your obligatory year-end Europe family trip and you spend a rather painful $10,000. At least you’ll have $500 of Qoo10 credits to console you when you get back to Singapore.

    Key features:

    • 5% Qmoney rebate on overseas spending
    • 3% foreign currency transaction fee
    • Minimum spend $600 in a month
    • No cap for overseas spending rebates until 31 Dec 2018


    Amex True Cashback Card – best for travelling to Western countries

    American Express True Cashback Card

    American Express True Cashback Card

    Card Benefits

    • MoneySmart Exclusive - Bonus S$80 Cash
    • Apply through MoneySmart from 22 Mar - 19 Apr 2018 to get S$100 worth of Grab OR NTUC Vouchers. Application must be approved by 3 May 2018. Submit your (i)Contact Details and (ii)14-digit Reference Number on the Thank You Page upon completion at this link before 19 April 2018. T&Cs
    • 1.5% Cashback on any purchase you make, anytime
    • 3% Cashback for the first 6 months up to $5000 spend
    • Enjoy first year fee waiver
    • Eligible for use with Apple Pay

    After all these generous rebates, the standard 1.5% offered by American Express True Cashback Card is bound to seem rather stingy. However, you get a bumped-up 3% cashback in the first 6 months of card membership. This is good for up to $5,000.

    Note that the 2.5% foreign currency fee will erode some of the rebate though. Also, Amex isn’t as widely accepted worldwide as Visa/Mastercard, so it’s suitable only for certain destinations.

    Key features:

    • American Express card
    • 3% cashback on all spending for first 6 months up to $5,000
    • 1.5% cashback subsequently
    • 2.5% foreign currency transaction fee
    • No minimum spend
    • No cap for 1.5% cashback


    ICBC Global Travel Mastercard – unlimited overseas spending rebate

    A lot of the credit cards I mentioned here are good only for a limited amount of time, but when credit card promos expire, it’s nice to have a fallback.

    Despite being a totally non-mainstream card – who even banks with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China!? – the ICBC Global Travel Mastercard is an online forum favourite.

    It’s one of those unlimited cashback credit cards with no minimum spend and no cap, meaning you can earn 3% cash rebates on your overseas spending forever and ever and ever.

    Key features:

    • 3% cashback on overseas spending
    • 2.5% foreign currency transaction fee
    • No minimum spend
    • No cap


    BOC Elite Miles Card – awesome $1 = 3 miles earn rate

    Wow. This is the 3rd BOC credit card to make it on the list. Seems like China banks are absolutely killing it with their travel offerings.

    The BOC Elite Miles Card – affectionately referred to as the “call me huang shang” card in the MoneySmart office – launched this year and its overseas spending promo rate is insanely high.

    $1 = 3 miles is impressive compared to the usual $1 = 2 miles (meh). Before 31 Dec 2018, they were even running a promotion of $1 = 5 miles – crazy!

    The only things to be wary of are that BOC points expire within a couple of years, and converting them to miles costs $30 rather than the usual $25.

    It has just increased its foreign transaction fee from 2.5% to 3% from 15 January 2019.

    Key features:

    • $1 = 5 miles overseas until 31 Dec 2018
    • $1 = 3 miles subsequently
    • 3% foreign currency transaction fee
    • No minimum spend
    • No cap


    Citi PremierMiles Card – best no-expiry miles card for travelling in 2018

    Citi PremierMiles Visa Card

    Citi PremierMiles Visa Card

    Card Benefits

    • Get S$300 NTUC Fairprice OR CapitaLand Vouchers with Citibank!
    • S$1 = 1.2 Citi Miles on Local spend
    • S$1 = 2 Citi Miles on Foreign currency spend
    • Earn up to 7 Citi Miles per S$1 spent on (valid till 31 Jul 2019), 3 Citi Miles per S$1 spent on (valid till 31 May 2019) and 10 Citi Miles per S$1 spent on (valid till 31 Dec 2019)
    • Citi Miles never expire
    • Priority Pass™ membership gives you access to more than 600 airport lounges twice a year
    • Complimentary Travel Accident Insurance up to S$1,000,000 coverage, Medical Assistance Programme and Travel Inconvenience Coverage

    If you’re looking for a miles card with a bit more longevity, my pick is the Citibank PremierMiles Card, since Citi Miles don’t expire.

    The accrual rate is $1 = 2 miles after the previous promotion of $1 = 2.4 miles ended on 31 Dec 2018.

    Another promo to take advantage of: sign up by 31 Jan 2019 and spend $7,500 in your first 3 months, and you can get a bonus 30,000 miles (if you’re new to Citibank).

    Key features:

    • $1 = 2 miles
    • 3% foreign currency transaction fee
    • No minimum spend
    • No cap


    UOB PRVI Miles Card – runner-up miles card

    UOB PRVI Miles Card

    UOB PRVI Miles Card

    Card Benefits

      • S$1 = 1.4 miles (Local spend); S$1 = 2.4 miles (Overseas spend)
      • S$1 = 6 miles for spends on major airlines and hotels booked through Expedia, UOB Travel, and Agoda
      • No minimum spend and no cap on earned miles
      • 20,000 loyalty miles every year with min. spend of S$50,000 in a year; Up to 8 complimentary airport transfers to Changi Airport in a year (Exclusively for UOB PRVI Miles American Express Card)
      • Complimentary travel insurance coverage of up to S$1,000,000. T&Cs apply.

      The UOB PRVI Miles Card used to be the miles market leader with the best overseas spending earn rate of $1 = 2.4 miles, until BOC launched its miles card and Citibank caught up.

      Even as Citibank’s accrual rate has gone back down to $1 = 2 miles, some mile chasers still prefer Citibank as you earn points for every $1 charged on your Citibank credit card while for UOB, you earn points for every $5 block.

      I’m still including this card in light of its (still good) overseas earn rate, but be warned. UOB charges a higher-than-usual foreign currency transaction fee for the PRVI Miles than for its other cards. Damning evidence here:

      Screengrab from

      Key features:

      • $1 = 2.4 miles overseas
      • 3.25% foreign currency transaction fee
      • No minimum spend
      • No cap

      Which is your favourite credit card to use for overseas spending? Share your recommendations in the comments!

      Also, check out the latest credit card promotions in Singapore before you apply for one. 


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      Clara Lim

      I used to be MoneyDumb. I hung out at H&M every day and thought that a $50 lunch set was a good deal. These days, I spend my time researching the crap out of life and trying to maximise utility on micro-decisions. I'm not sure if that's an improvement.