In this day and age, all “shopping” is by default “online shopping” – which is why RateX is such a godsend.
If you’re wondering what it is, the ‘x’ in its name comes from the ‘ex’ in forex, which is RateX’s main business. But before you yawn and assume RateX is some boring trading platform that’s of no use to you, hear this: RateX is actually a free tool that helps shoppers avoid the biggest hidden costs of online shopping – poor exchange rates and high foreign transaction fees.
Also, it searches for the best promo code you’re eligible for and automatically applies it to your cart.
Got your attention? Good.
What is RateX?
RateX is a free browser plug-in that basically converts all your foreign currency shopping into local currency for payment. That means you can shop on Amazon in USD, and when you cart out, it’ll be in SGD.
If you’ve ever wondered why the prices on your credit card statement and shopping receipts never tally, it’s the pesky foreign transaction fees and shitty bank-given exchange rates that are to blame. (Surprising news? You can read up more on the common “hidden” fees charged by banks.)
So paying in SGD means you avoid all those extra charges. Whatever you see during checkout is whatever you’ll pay.
Traditionally, before any Singaporean shopper hits “checkout”, we must Google for promo codes to use. RateX does this for you: the browser extension automatically searches for the best promo code you’re eligible for and applies it to your cart. It’s based on things like your account, shipping address and etc.
In case you suspect this is an advertorial – because I feel like it’s beginning to sound like one – it’s not. I’m just very passionate about the topic because I vividly remember the rude shock the first time I paid in foreign currency. Even until now, I’m super cautious about paying in non-SGD currencies because banks are real sneaky with this stuff.
The banks don’t publish the exchange rates that they use for your credit card transactions, so even if you can do the math for the processing fees, it’s still impossible to know for sure how much you will be paying.
How does RateX work?
RateX is a browser extension, so you’ll have to first download and install it to Google Chrome or Firefox. Those are the only 2 supported desktop browsers.
Then, you shop as per normal. When you’re on a RateX-supported site, the extension will light up. RateX Pay (the payments system) supports many popular merchants like international Amazon sites, eBay and Hotels.com.
For coupons, there are 65 partners, including Sephora, Forever21, Scoot and more. Check out the full RateX merchant list.
Once you’re done adding stuff to cart, RateX will hop back in at the checkout page to search for promo codes. The best one will automatically be applied to your cart.
Your cart will show the exact SGD price you’re paying, based on RateX’s exchange rate. It’s supposedly the “true” exchange rate, so feel free to Google and verify that before you pay.
Voila, you’re done! You’ll get billed the exact SGD total you saw upon checkout – no more, no less.
RateX also has a rewards programme. As you shop, you earn a fixed percentage (up to 10%, depending on the site) of your purchases in “clovers” which you can subsequently exchange for cash, credits, miles and even cryptocurrencies.
You’ll need to earn at least 1,000 clovers before you can redeem anything. Clovers don’t “expire”, but if your account has been inactive for 1 year, they will be wiped out.
If you use RateX, do you still earn your credit card cash back, rewards and/or miles?
RateX is middleman (like PayPal), so when you look at your credit card statement, you’ll see that you paid RateX (instead of say, Amazon).
So you might wonder if you still earn rebates, rewards or miles for the transaction. The answer: it depends on what the criteria for the earning is, but in most cases, you should.
Here are some things to note:
|Bonus cashback, rewards or miles category||Is RateX eligible?|
|Online shopping (local currency)||Yes|
|Online shopping (foreign currency)||No|
|Merchant-specific bonus rewards (e.g. Amazon, Zalora, etc)||No|
1. RateX payments are considered online purchases (local). If your bonus rebates are for online shopping, you will earn it.
2. RateX’s merchant code is 5399 (miscellaneous general merchandise). So if your bonus rebates category is specific to say, dining or groceries, you won’t earn it.
For example, if you use RateX to shop on Redmart, it won’t be considered grocery shopping.
3. RateX transactions are made in Singapore, in local currency. You will not earn bonus miles or cash back in the foreign spending category.
4. Some credit cards have tie-ups with specific merchants for accelerated rebate or miles accrual (e.g. Amazon, Zalora, etc). If you pay via RateX, you will not be eligible for it.
What are the best credit cards to use with RateX?
I would recommend using either a cash back or rewards credit card. If you use an air miles card, you won’t be getting maximum utility from it because they typically offer poorer earn rates for local currency spending.
Top 5 cash back cards for local online spending:
|Credit card||Online shopping rebate||Monthly minimum spend||Monthly cashback cap|
|CIMB Visa Signature Card||10% cashback||$600||$50 for online category ($100 total)|
|BOC Zaobao Credit Card (UnionPay)||10% cashback||$600||$80|
|OCBC FRANK Credit Card||6% cashback||$400 offline||$60|
|BOC Family Card||5% cashback||$700||$30 for online category ($100 total)|
|DBS Live Fresh Card||5% cashback||$600||$20 for online category ($60 total)|
Read more about the best cash back cards for online shopping.
Top rewards credit cards for local online spending:
|Credit card||Bonus rewards||Spending categories|
|UOB Preferred Platinum Card||10X ($1 = 4 miles)||Online shopping, food, entertainment + contactless payment|
|DBS Woman’s Card||5X ($1 = 2 miles)||All online spending including travel|
|HSBC Revolution Card||5X ($1 = 2 miles)||Online spending, dining, entertainment|
Read more about the best rewards cards for online shopping.
Is there a minimum or maximum spending limit when using RateX to shop?
Yes, the transaction limits are as follows:
|Online shopping site||Min spend||Max spend|
How does RateX make money?
Sounds too good to be true (read: scammy), hor? If they pass on all the savings to us, how does RateX actually earn money!?
As expected, I’m not the only kaypoh who’s wondered this. In fact, it’s covered in the FAQ section: Apparently, RateX gets paid by the merchants for helping them “drive foreign sales”, and they then earn a “small cut” from this model.
Is RateX safe? Will they steal my data?
Personally, I was slightly concerned about how “legit” RateX is – you know, it being a browser extension and all. I don’t super like the idea of having to download it and have it “watch” my internet activity.
On its FAQ page, RateX says that uses Google Analytics (GA) and collects data to improve the user experience. It’s quite vague lah, so if you’re not comfortable with this you can opt out of GA tracking, or set up an ad blocker filter.
Does RateX work on mobile?
Nope, it’s for desktop only. However, if you mostly shop on your smartphone, you can download the RateS app.
It’s designed more like a marketplace (i.e. shopping aggregator), but it has most of the same functions as the website. For instance, it also auto applies promo codes for you.
If I need an exchange or refund, who do I look for?
Ah… this is tricky because if you pay RateX in SGD and RateX pays the merchant in foreign currency, who is the “customer”? Who handles the disputes?
It depends, but most times (like when the products are defective, etc) you can contact the seller directly. That’s because you use your own email or account to make the purchase.
The refunds will go back to you.
… And there you have it!
I personally have not tried RateX, but from the online reviews and feedback, it sounds promising. So if you don’t mind, I’ll BRB. Going to start adding stuff to cart for Black Friday now!
Have you tried RateX? Share your experience (and tips) with us in the comments below!
In-article image credit: RateX