- Large, reputable bank that’s familiar to local users
- No currency exchange fees
- No storage or transaction caps
- Ability to set FX alerts for your ideal rates
- Supports fewer currencies than Wise and Revolut
- S$7 per overseas ATM withdrawal
- DBS FX rate includes a markup
- Little to no interest on cash balance
Getting ready for a vacation abroad often involves a trip to the money changer, followed by stuffing rolls of foreign cash in your luggage.
Now, thanks to the convenience of multi-currency accounts, physically carrying large amounts of foreign currency could be a thing of the past.
But with the growing popularity of digital multi-currency accounts, it’s worth examining if legacy bank offerings are still competitive.
We’ll cover those questions and more:
- What is the DBS Multi-Currency Account (MCA)?
- How does it work?
- How do the exchange rates compare?
- What are the fees?
- DBS MCA vs YouTrip vs Revolut vs Wise
- Whom it’s good for
What Is the DBS Multi-Currency Account?
In 2017, DBS launched multi-currency accounts to help customers save on their overseas spending by avoiding high foreign exchange transaction fees.
This account is similar to a regular savings account: it allows you to hold and transact up to 13 currencies (including SGD) at a time and earn interest.
It’s technically not the only DBS account that can hold multiple currencies. For the purpose of our review though, we’ll focus on the DBS My Account (since it’s branded as the main DBS multi-currency account).
How Does It Work?
Like a typical savings account, you can deposit and hold your money in the DBS My Account, leaving it to earn interest.
The rates are nothing much though: you’ll get 0.05% on your Singapore dollar balance and between 0.03% to 0.05% on your USD balance. No other currencies earn interest. (That said, if you have the DBS Multiplier Account, any transactions with your DBS MCA will also count towards the Multiplier bonus interest requirements.)
Here are the 13 currencies you can hold and spend in with DBS My Account:
- Singapore Dollar (SGD)
- Australian Dollar (AUD)
- Canadian Dollar (CAD)
- Chinese Renminbi (Offshore) (CNH)*
- Euro (EUR)
- Hong Kong Dollar (HKD)
- Japanese Yen (JPY)
- New Zealand Dollar (NZD)
- Norwegian Kroner (NOK)
- Sterling Pound (GBP)
- Swedish Kroner (SEK)
- Thai Baht (THB)
- US Dollar (USD)
* Chinese Renminbi Offshore (CNH) is not available for card transactions
Spending While Overseas
You can link your DBS Visa Debit Card to the account to transact directly in the specified foreign currencies — assuming you hold enough of that foreign currency.
Spending in a currency you don’t hold means you’ll pay the marked-up exchange rates PLUS the conversion fees from the card provider. This can be as much as 3.25%.
But if you look out for good exchange rates in advance — and convert your SGD via the digibank app — you can avoid unfavourable rates and conversion fees. Just note that if you don’t have enough foreign currency for the transaction or the merchant charges you in a different currency, you’ll still incur those high conversion fees.
Paying Foreign Merchants While Shopping Online
Likewise, you can transact with foreign merchants online with your linked DBS Visa Debit Card. Just make sure to select the correct currency at the point of purchase.
A word of caution: Even though there aren’t any conversion fees, DBS still determines the exchange rates. Because of that, you’ll still get a markup compared to the rates you see on Google or XE.com.
Withdrawing Money Overseas
ATM withdrawals will be automatically deducted from your respective foreign currency account, provided there’s enough balance. Otherwise, the foreign cash withdrawal will be deducted from your SGD balance.
An ATM withdrawal fee of S$7 applies.
Setting Up Exchange Rate Alerts
Perhaps the most helpful feature of the DBS My Account is the option to set up push notifications for FX rate changes.
Simply set up the currency pair you want to keep an eye on, enter an amount, and set a period when you want to monitor the rates. You’ll get notifications whenever the rates are in your favour.
For example, if you’ve been buying Euro sporadically in preparation for a year-end ski holiday in France, a push notification will alert you of price movements on EUR.
Or suppose you need to frequently send Pound Sterling over to your daughter studying in the United Kingdom. In that case, this feature makes things so much more convenient for you.
How Good Are the DBS MCA Exchange Rates?
Say you’re going on a family vacation and plan to exchange $10,000 for your trip. Here’s how much you get for different destinations:
|USA||$7,270||$7,320||$ 7,319||$ 7,322|
|Europe||€ 6,437||€ 6,494||€ 6,491||€ 6,490|
|Japan||826,856 Yen||836,768 Yen||836,140 Yen||837,131 Yen|
|Thailand||243,451 Baht||247,301 Baht||247,043 Baht||247,698 Baht|
Bottom line: Because mid-market rates tend to be better than the rates that banks offer to retail customers, you’ll usually get more from digital multi-currency accounts.
DBS Multi-Currency Account Fees & Charges
By itself, the DBS MCA is free to use. Other fees may apply though.
For example, if you have a linked Multiplier account, there’s a fall-below fee of $5/mo if your monthly average daily balance is below S$3,000. This fee is waived until the account holder turns 29.
The DBS My Account doesn’t have a minimum balance or fall-below fee, but it does have an account fee of $2 per month for hardcopy statements. Avoid this by asking for the free eStatements instead.
DBS MCA vs YouTrip vs Revolut vs Wise
Speaking of alternative multi-currency accounts, let’s do a comparison:
Who Would Benefit Most from DBS MCA?
Overall, the DBS multi-currency account offers convenience due to its reputation and access to a broad local ATM network. DBS multi-currency accounts are a good option for shoppers who want the versatility to use the card locally and abroad.
In a nutshell, we’d recommend the DBS MCA for:
- Existing DBS account holders who want the convenience of having a linked multi-currency account
- Shoppers who often buy from foreign retailers
- Those who wish to store larger amounts for investments or to earn bonus interest with the DBS Multiplier