Withdrawing Cash Overseas When You Travel – What To Look Out For & Withdrawal Fees

withdrawing cash overseas

I know, who even uses cash anymore? But when you’re overseas, and say you’re at a street market, you’ll still most likely need to pay in cash.

Here’s what you need to know about withdrawing cash overseas with your Singapore ATM or debit card.

How to withdraw cash overseas using your ATM cards?

Before you leave Singapore, you’ll want to make sure your card is activated for overseas use.

You can usually activate your card for overseas usage using either internet banking or an ATM machine. If you can’t find out how to do so, give your bank a call or head down to a branch with your card.

Once your card is activated, you can withdraw money at any ATM machine overseas that will accept it.

How do you know if your card will work? Look at the logos on the front and back of your card (eg. Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus, Plus, Maestro) and match them with the logos on the ATM machine. If there is at least one matching logo, the machine should work.

Withdrawal charges for POSB, DBS, OCBC, UOB, Citibank

Withdrawing cash with your local ATM card is usually free in Singapore, but not when you use the same card overseas, UNLESS the you have a card or account that specifically offers free overseas ATM withdrawals.

Here’s what you can expect to pay when using cards from the following local banks to withdraw cash overseas.

Bank Withdrawal charges
POSB/DBS $7 withdrawal fee
Currency conversion factor 1% (Visa/MasterCard)
Administrative fee of up to 2.65%
(Total admin fee and conversion factor should not exceed 3.25%)
OCBC 3% withdrawal fee (min $5, max $20)
Administrative fee of 2.25%
UOB $5 withdrawal fee
Processing fee of 2.8%
Citibank No withdrawal fee
Administrative fee of 2.5%

In addition to these charges, you might also have to pay charges imposed by the foreign bank, if any.

Fee-free international ATM withdrawals

Here are some tips for withdrawing cash for free.

Look for ATMs from your bank

As a general rule, if you withdraw money from the same bank your card is from, you do not have to pay withdrawal fees. That’s easier said than done though, as your destination might not have ATMs from your bank.

Check if your bank has any partner banks that offer free withdrawal

Your bank might have partnerships with an overseas bank that enables cardmembers to withdraw cash for free overseas.

POSB and DBS cardholders can withdraw money for free from ATMS belonging to Australian banks in the Westpac group (Westpac, St George Bank, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA), while withdrawals from Bank of Central Asia and HDFC in India and Bank of Philippines Island in the Philippines attract a $2 fee rather than the usual $7.

Get a card that offers fee-free international ATM withdrawals

Citibank and CIMB ATM cards allow you to withdraw cash at overseas ATMs without having to pay any administrative fees. However, you will still have to pay a currency conversion fee (1% in the case of CIMB) as well as any services fees imposed by the other bank.

Another option is to open a RHB TravelFX account, which gives you a card that enables you to withdraw cash overseas without having to pay administrative fees.

Tip: Withdraw in lump sums if you really need to

As overseas withdrawal fees usually involve a lump sum fee, to reduce the cost to yourself it’s a good idea to make lump sum withdrawals in order to reduce the number of times you have to use the ATM machine. Instead of withdrawing $50 every day, withdraw all the cash you need at the start of your trip.

Adjust your daily withdrawal limit ahead of time so you will be able to withdraw the sum you need, and be aware that some ATM machines will also have their own withdrawal limits.

Do you have any tips for withdrawing cash overseas for free or cheap? Share them in the comments!