A debit card that uses real exchange rates and touts 6 times lower fees just launched in Singapore

TransferWise claims it is the first debit card in Asia to use the real exchange rate, which is the rate that pops up when you Google a currency conversion.
TransferWise

Travel overseas often? There’s now a debit card claiming to charge fees six times lower than everybody else – and it’ll even allow you to withdraw money overseas for free.

Launched by London-based fintech unicorn TransferWise, the platinum debit Mastercard was made available in Singapore from Tuesday (Oct 15) on the company’s website.

Both businesses and consumers can get the card, which has already been launched in the UK, Europe, US, Australia and New Zealand.

The TransferWise card's landed in Singapore!

Singapore, this one’s for you! 🎉🇸🇬You can now order your TransferWise Platinum Debit MasterCard – and start saving up to *7x as much* every time you go abroad!

Posted by TransferWise on Monday, 14 October 2019

It comes with the ability to store money in different currencies, and acts as the equivalent of a local bank account in the five aforementioned countries.

Users get Mastercard benefits, and can withdraw up to S$350 every 30 days at any ATM in the world that accepts Mastercard.

Read also: Revolut – an app providing currency exchange with no fees – is launching in APAC next year, and there are already 50,000 people on the wait list

TransferWise claims it is the first debit card in Asia to use the real exchange rate, which is the rate that pops up when you Google a currency conversion.

Fees are 0.67 per cent of every transaction (or 0.44 per cent for conversions to US, UK, Europe, Hong Kong and Australian currency) – compared to the market average of 4 per cent, the company said.

Unlike other cards, TransferWise said it does not charge sign-up fees, annual fees, or dormancy fees.

It added that it is working to make money-changing free for customers.

Read also: New Mastercard YouTrip that lets users pay in 150 currencies with no fees has scored nearly 10,000 subscribers in its first week – and the wait list is getting longer

TransferWise’s APAC head for card products, Surendra Chaplot, said banks and card providers usually hid their fees in marked-up exchange rates.

“When you book a flight or a room, the airline or hotel tells you how much you are charged. But when you spend your card overseas, banks somehow believe they have the right to hide what they charge,” he added.

“This may have been acceptable in another century or decade, but consumers in an age of transparency should and will reject it,” he said.

TransferWise said the average Singaporean household spends S$650 a year on foreign exchange fees alone.

Read also: Paying overseas? The average Singapore household loses S$1,400 a year from banks marking up the exchange rate, study finds