Singaporeans often underestimate the cost of transferring money overseas – here’s where to get the best deals

If you have fallen victim to the higher-than-expected fees associated with sending money overseas, you aren’t alone.

In fact, the majority of Singaporeans (75%) don’t understand the true cost of sending money overseas – which includes both upfront fees and an exchange rate markup.

According to a report released by international money transfer portal TransferWise on Thursday (Dec 13), 88% of Singaporeans underestimate the fees involved in overseas money transfers.

The report surveyed over 1,000 Singaporeans.

This is despite the fact that close to 75% of people believed that their banks made it easy to understand the true cost of overseas money transfers.

The study also found that Singaporeans look for transparency of fees when they are making overseas money transfers.

“On a scale of what matters most to them when transferring money, more than half of Singaporeans ranked transparency regarding fees and charges more highly than price,” said TransferWise’s head of banking Mr Lukas May, in a statement.

“However, our research has found that people in Singapore are not aware of hidden costs of international payments. In fact, Singaporeans could be paying up to five times more than necessary when making money transfers abroad.”

When comparing major bank providers in Singapore, DBS provided the lowest fees when upfront fees and exchange rate markups were accounted for.

Meanwhile, Standard Chartered and HSBC proved to be the most expensive overall.

Online payments company PayPal showed to have the highest exchange rate markup across all of the providers, while Citibank was the bank with the highest rate.

Here’s a look into how the different providers compare in terms of the total fees charged when making a transfer of $1,000 to a range of countries:


It’s no surprise that TransferWise had the cheapest rates when pitted against the banks and even PayPal.

Interestingly, it was also found that sending money to India was the most expensive across all amounts of overseas money transfers.

Mr May added: “Many banks tell their customers they only pay a small upfront fee for international payments, but in reality customers pay much more through poor exchange rates”.

“These complex fees for international money transfers hide important information from consumers and Singaporeans don’t get the most value out of their transactions – whether they are sending money to support loved ones abroad or investing overseas”.