Having an affair sets off alarm bells.
We are talking about the affairs of exchange – foreign currencies that is.
When on journeys outside your home country, there are a number of considerations such as those listed here.
- Card (credit, debit, including prepaid travel cards). Obviously the exchange rate used will not be to your favor. And most likely on top of it you will have to pay a % service fee on the exchange rate. Most Singapore banks apply that % fee plus probably use a “lousier” exchange rate. If you pull cash out of a machine it is definitely a lot more expensive. Probably applies at a bank near you everywhere on the globe.
- Cash is obviously one of the must haves especially if you need to do small transactions in a digital unfriendly environment. No matter how “advanced”, in most countries you very likely still need a small amount of local currency some how for local vendors who cannot accept electronic payment.
- Travelers’ checks (they still have this???). Really unsure where this will be easily cashed or used. Perhaps at some hotels and local banks? Again you lose out in terms of the rates used.
We are lucky that Singapore is a tiny island with a lot of money changers. No these are not bank-backed exchange offices or large foreign exchange “chains” (such as Thomas Cook). They are licensed private exchanges that are literally everywhere all over the tiny island. Some of these enterpreneurial folks even have branches across the city!
Now as the world’s 4th largest foreign exchange trading hub, what can you expect?
We changed Russian roubles in Singapore for a rate of S$1 = 46. Not too bad, as we did not need to change from S$ into US$ or € before converting to roubles. Definitely a two time loss to be incurred if we had to!
But we told ourselves : we are not changing nor spending an inordinate amount of money. Thus the difference in exchange rate will not likely make a big dent in our budgets. But in cases where there is intent to spend more (such as shopping in Japan – see post here), then it matters…
So each time you embark on a journey outside your home country, you could well be on the way to a foreign exchange “affair”…