Credit Cards

UOB increasing credit card foreign currency transaction fee to 3.25%

The FCY fee on UOB credit cards will increase from 3.1% to 3.25% from 9 March 2020.

The current trend of banks increasing credit card foreign currency transaction (FCY) fees shows no sign of abating, and from 9 March 2020, UOB will increase the FCY fee on its cards from 3.1% to 3.25%

What is an FCY fee?
When you transact on your credit card in a currency other than SGD, the bank will convert the transaction to SGD based on the Visa/Mastercard exchange rates, then apply a mark up to the entire transaction known as the FCY fee

UOB last hiked its fees on 4 September 2019 (from 2.8% to 3.1%), so this represents the second fee hike in six months.

This change does not affect the UOB PRVI Miles, KrisFlyer UOB and UOB Reserve cards, which have all along imposed a 3.25% FCY fee anyway.  UOB-issued American Express cards will continue at their current 3.25% rate.

How does this affect the cost of using UOB cards overseas?

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With the revised 3.25% fee, here’s how much it costs to use these UOB cards overseas:

Card FCY Earn Rate CPM @ 3.25% Remarks
UOB Visa Signature 4.0  0.78 0.81 Min S$1K Max S$2K FCY spend per statement month
UOB Lady’s Card 4.0 0.78 0.81 On selected 10X categories only
UOB Preferred Platinum Visa 4.0 0.78 0.81 Must be contactless transactions, capped at S$1,110/month
UOB PRVI Miles (all versions) 2.4 1.35 Fee remains at 3.25%
KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card 1.2  2.71 Fee remains at 3.25% 

My opinion is that it’s still worth using a credit card on transactions that qualify for 4 mpd. It’of course depends on your personal valuation of a mile, but I’d say that most people would gladly pick them up at a sub-1 cent price.

Up, up, up

With the latest changes, here’s how each bank’s FCY fee compares:

BankVisa/MCAMEXRemarks
DBS3.25%3.0%
UOB3.1% (3.25% from 9 Mar 20)3.25%UOB PRVI Miles MC/Visa, UOB Reserve, KrisFlyer UOB: 3.25%
OCBC3.25%N/A
Citibank3.25%3.3%
HSBC2.8%N/A
SCB3.5%N/A
Maybank2.75%N/A
CIMB3.0%N/A
BOC3.0%N/A
AMEXN/A2.5% (2.95% from 1 Mar 20)
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It says quite a bit about what’s going on in the market that I need to update this list every few months:

With 4 mpd opportunities it can still make sense to use your credit card overseas, but every fee hike simply sends more people into the arms of non-bank competitors like YouTrip and Revolut.

One wonders why banks continue to raise FCY fees when improved technology and the emergence of alternative payment options should be putting downward pressure on prices. In any case, I’ve given up figuring out what the game plan is here, and wouldn’t be surprised if we see HSBC and Maybank join the rest of the 3%+ club soon.

Conclusion

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A 3.25% FCY fee isn’t the end of the world, but the bigger picture here is that there’s no sign banks plan to stop the increases anytime soon.

It’s fine to continue using your credit card overseas for now, if mileage accumulation is the goal, but otherwise you might be interested in learning about some of the alternatives which I’ll be covering in a future post.

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(HT: Anthony)


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Willy

This gives you an idea how much Revolut and YouTrip burns to sustain their no fee model. Looking at Revolut’s financial statements, they lose about 1.5 for every 1 revenue they bring in. And this does not even include other costs like staffing, rental and all.

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