- No additional fees on top of exchange rates
- Easy tracking of all cash flows via app
- Earn AirAsia BIG Points when you spend
- Easy to deposit, withdraw, and transfer funds
- Can’t store multiple currencies in BigPay wallet
- Features are only useful if you use BigPay for all your spending
- BIG Points exchange rate is low and points expire within 24 months
- Cannot earn interest on balance
AirAsia-backed BigPay aims to make banking accessible to everyone.
Their mission? “Become a leading challenger bank across Southeast Asia.” To that end, they’ve launched a number of financial products and features — including a multi-currency account with a linked card.
But just how well do they live up to this goal? Does their money app really put customer needs at its centre? How’s the multi-currency account compared to apps like Wise or YouTrip?
We’ll cover that and more in our review of BigPay:
TL;DR: BigPay vs a Few Other Multi-Currency Accounts
|Exchange Rates||Visa wholesale exchange rate||Mid-market rate||Mastercard wholesale exchange rate||Mid-market rate||Bank exchange rate|
|FX fees||1% + network charges||From 0.35%||None||Up to 2%||Up to 3.25%|
|Currencies that can be stored in wallet||N.A||56||10||28||13|
|Daily Contactless Spending Limits||S$300||S$900 by default, up to a maximum of S$1,750||None||None||Depends on your debit card spending limits|
|Account Balances||No minimum; maximum S$5,000||No minimum; maximum S$5,000||No minimum; maximum S$5,000||No minimum; maximum S$5,000||Minimum S$3,000, no maximum|
|Overseas Withdrawal Fees||1st withdrawal is free.|
2% on subsequent withdrawals.
|2 free monthly withdrawals up to S$350.|
Above S$350, 1.75%.
Above 2 withdrawals, S$1.50 per withdrawal.
|S$5 per withdrawal||Free up to S$350.|
|S$7 per withdrawal + up to 3.25% in admin fees|
|Standout Feature||Earn AirAsia Big Points when you spend||Compatible with both Apple & Google Pay||No FX fees when you pay in 150+ currencies||1% cashback at metal tier||Interest-generating account|
What is BigPay?
BigPay’s initial purpose was as an e-wallet that leveraged AirAsia’s customer network. The app has since grown to become one of Malaysia’s largest e-money issuers by gross transaction value.
Subsequently, it launched in Singapore in 2020 as a mobile money app with a prepaid Visa card. BigPay is regulated as a major payment institution by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
How Does BigPay Work?
Think of BigPay as another multi-currency account similar to Wise, Revolut, and YouTrip. Opening an account is really simple with BigPay’s integration with SingPass Myinfo. Once that’s done, verify your identity by uploading a snapshot of your NRIC.
The BigPay Prepaid Card
Once you transfer S$20 into your new BigPay account, you’ll be eligible for a card. It will take around 5-7 business days before the card arrives.
The BigPay card works like a debit card, so you won’t have to worry about getting into an overdraft and having to pay excessive fees. It can be used locally and overseas at any merchant that accepts Visa.
The maximum amount of money you can retain in your card each day is S$5,000 with a S$2,500 daily overseas withdrawal limit.
Before you can make any contactless payments, you’ll need to activate the payWave feature on your card. To do so, you’ll have to make your first purchase on the card via Chip and PIN or through online payment.
Note: There’s also a limit on payWave payments set at S$300 daily. This is fixed by VISA and the limit cannot be changed.
If you lose your card, you can freeze it in-app immediately instead of having to call someone. You can unfreeze it again via the app once you’ve found it.
BigPay Features and Benefits
Among the many features it boasts, BigPay allows you to:
- Make payments almost everywhere
- Keep track of cash flows through the app
- Convert and pay with foreign currencies easily through the card or app
- Earn AirAsia BIG Points and cashback credits when you spend
- Stack rewards from various platforms
Earn AirAsia BIG Points When You Spend
If you already have an AirAsia account, you can link it up and merge your existing BIG points balance. If you don’t, signing up for a BigPay account will already allow you to earn BIG points when you spend.
Here are a few things to note:
- Every S$5 spent translates into 1 BIG Point.
- All points will expire 24 months after their issue date.
- You won’t get points for making bank transfers or sending money to friends on BigPay.
- You can redeem BIG points for discounted AirAsia flights and other rewards.
- You can transfer your BIG points to other BIG members through the app.
Unfortunately, the spending-to-rewards ratio for BigPay is abysmal.
To give an example, AirAsia’s rewards page states that you can earn 4 BIG points for every US$1 spent on Trip.com. That translates to 2,400 BIG points for a US$600 booking.
But for some reason when it comes to BigPay, you’ll only get one measly point for every S$5 spent. That means a US$600 transaction (about S$815) will only get you 163 BIG points.
Stack Rewards From Various Platforms
Since BigPay works like a debit card, you’ll need to top up the account with money from your other bank accounts or e-wallets.
Every e-wallet comes with its own set of benefits. Let’s use GrabPay as an example.
By topping up your BigPay wallet with your GrabPay card and making a purchase thereafter, you’ll be able to earn points from both apps:
- BIG Points by making a purchase after topping up your BigPay wallet
- Grab Points by spending through the Grab wallet
Comparing BigPay vs Wise, YouTrip, and Revolut
Make Payments Almost Everywhere
Your BigPay account comes with Visa or Mastercard that is accepted by over 40 million merchants worldwide. The BigPay card can be used for all your payments on and offline.
Convert, Pay, And Send Various Currencies Easily Through The App
BigPay does not charge markups on their exchange rates and you’ll know exactly what the conversion rate is for every transaction. The same goes for Wise, YouTrip, and Revolut.
When it comes to sending money though, YouTrip lags behind the rest. You can’t transfer money to overseas banks via YouTrip, but you can on the other 3 apps.
Bigpay Wallet Cannot Store Different Currencies
You can’t store foreign currencies on the BigPay wallet. You can do so with the rest.
That’s a big deal for one reason: you can’t lock in good exchange rates in advance. Instead, BigPay converts your money on the spot so you’re at the mercy of the FX rates at the point of transaction (which could be terrible).
The one saving grace here is that like the other digital MCAs, BigPay uses mid-market rates to convert your money.
Exchange Rate Comparisons Across Accounts
BigPay uses Visa’s rates to convert currencies for its users.
Apart from Visa’s FX rates, BigPay does not charge users any additional fees. This means there are no annual fees, account service fees, cross-border transaction fees and whatnots.
Here’s a quick snapshot of how much you’ll get if you’re looking to convert S$10,000 on BigPay vs other apps or banks for your next big adventure:
Rates fluctuate all the time, but it seems from this snapshot that YouTrip has the best exchange rates for most of the countries above.
Overseas Withdrawal Fees
Since the first withdrawal on BigPay is free, we’ll take an example where it’s our 2nd withdrawal for the month and compare it across all wallets for a $500 withdrawal.
- BigPay (2% of withdrawal amount) = $10
- Wise (1.75% per withdrawal) = $8.75
- YouTrip ($5 per withdrawal) = $5
- Revolut (2% of withdrawal amount) = $10
From this example, YouTrip’s flat fee of $5 is most cost-effective with larger or more frequent withdrawals.
|Rewards for Spending||Accrue AirAsia Big Points||10% off Booking.com + 3% cashback for payments through Apple/Google Pay||Cashback and discounts at various merchants||1% cashback at metal tier + cashback and discounts at various merchants|
When it comes to rewards, BigPay lags behind the rest. With BigPay, you can only earn and redeem your BigPoints at specific merchants. In comparison to the other cards, users can even earn cashback and additional discounts at specific merchants.
If you’re looking for cashback, then Wise is the best choice. For discounts, YouTrip has the largest selection of participating merchants.
Keeping Track Of All Cash Flows Through The App
Big Analytics allows you to view all your cash flows on one screen. You can also extract the statements and export them to Google Sheets to make charts, graphs, and so on.
BigPay categorises your expenses so you can easily monitor your budget and what you spend most on.
All 4 digital multi-currency accounts have in-built cashflow management features that allow you to view your balance, track transactions, and deactivate or replace your card. Among them, BigPay has the most well-thought-out analytics system.
Despite the thoughtful addition, if you’re only using BigPay for overseas travel expenditures, then the insights it provides aren’t all that helpful.
BigPay vs DBS Multi-Currency Account
Since both apps allow users to track cash flows, the main differences here will be the cost savings and the varying flexibility in both accounts.
BigPay allows for greater cost savings as users do not incur any exchange rate markups. There are also no card fees and minimum balances required, making things more convenient and flexible for users.
Interest-Generating Savings Account
The DBS MCA allows you to earn interest on your idle cash — though the rates are low. Just make sure the account management fees and higher FX rates are worth it.
The Bottom Line: When’s the Best Time to Use BigPay?
If you’re planning on booking a flight with AirAsia, then BigPay would be the best card to use out of all the multi-currency accounts. You get to enjoy processing fee waivers and discounts on pre-booked check-in luggage and meals.
Also, since BigPay has a daily spending cap of S$300, you’ll want to use BigPay at local or overseas merchants for small purchases. For bigger overseas purchases such as your luxury branded goods, you’ll need to use any of the other 3 digital multi-currency cards.