Singapore styles itself the Switzerland of Southeast Asia, owing to its stable and well-developed banking system, low government corruption, and high living standards. Underpinning all of this is the Singapore dollar, one of the most stable and reliable currencies in the region.
Visitors will have no problem changing their US dollars for Singaporean currency in any of the many moneychangers or banks throughout the island. Lower expectations simply do not apply - Singapore is a thoroughly modernized nation, and visitors can expect to play by the same money rules as they would in London or New York.
Legal Tender in Singapore
The Singapore dollar (SGD, known on the street as the "sing-dollar") is Singapore's official unit of currency. Paper notes are denominated in $2, $5, $10, and $50 (less commonly seen are $100, $500, $1,000 and $10,000 bills). Coins come in 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents and $1 denominations.
The Brunei dollar is also legal tender in Singapore on a 1:1 exchange rate, owing to an agreement between the two tiny Southeast Asian nations.
Some shopping centers and hotels accept US Dollars, Australian Dollars, Japanese Yen and Pounds Sterling. Many stores will accept these denominations, including travelers' cheques, at a slightly lower rate compared to those of moneychangers.
Changing Money in Singapore: Moneychangers & Banks
Singapore is a major Asian financial hub, so it has a fully developed banking and exchange system. Money can be changed in banks and authorized moneychangers everywhere in the city-state.
Licensed moneychangers can be found at Singapore Changi Airport, Orchard Road shopping centers, the Central Business District near City Hall, and other major areas of commerce (Little India and Chinatown, among others). Look for a "Licensed Money Changer" sign to be assured of prompt and honest service.
Moneychangers' exchange rates are competitive with those of banks (even better, because moneychangers don't charge service fees). Many moneychangers sell many other currencies besides Singapore dollars, but you should inquire first.
Banks also will change your dollars to local currency. There's a bank on every corner to do business with, although banks may charge a flat fee of SGD3.00 per transaction.
Banks are open from 9:30am to 3pm during weekdays, and 9:30am to 11:30am on Saturdays.
ATMs in Singapore
Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are located all over the city-state - every bank, MRT station, or shopping center has its own. Machines with a Plus or Cirrus sign will let you withdraw money using your own ATM machine. Most machines allow Visa or Mastercard withdrawals.
- United Overseas Bank - Sitemap (to find ATM locations, click on"ATMs" link in "General Information"
- Development Bank of Singapore - ATM Locator
- StreetDB Singapore - Nearest ATM
Major credit cards are accepted islandwide. Surcharges on credit card purchases are not permitted, and any shops that attempt to impose one should be reported to credit card company involved:
- American Express (www.americanexpress.com, +65-6299-8133)
- Diners Club (www.dinersclub.com.sg, +65-6294-4222)
- JCB (www.jcbinternational.com/sg, +65-6734-0096)
- MasterCard & Visa (1800-345-1345)
Travelers' checks may be changed in most banks or moneychangers across the island - some shops and restaurants accept them as legal tender, too! Show your passport when cashing your travelers' checks.
Tipping is restricted throughout the island: the practice is discouraged in Changi Airport, and is not expected at establishments where a 10% service charge is in force (read: most hotels and restaurants). Not even taxi drivers, hawker centers and coffee shops expect tips.