One of the biggest draws of the Amaze card — apart from its 1% cashback and ability to convert any offline transaction into an online 4 mpd-eligible one — is its “zero FCY fee” proposition.
|💳 tl;dr: Amaze card|
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Unlike traditional banks, Amaze does not charge any foreign currency transaction fees. There’s some spread built into the conversion rate it uses, but it’s almost identical to the spot rates.
Or rather, it was. In recent weeks, I’ve noticed (and received reports) of Amaze rates diverging from the spot and Mastercard rates. It’s not a big enough difference to ditch the Amaze, but it’s certainly worth taking note of.
Amaze FX rates
The first thing to remember is that Amaze doesn’t actually promise to give spot rates, or even Mastercard rates for that matter. Amaze promises to give “Instarem FX rates”:
Amaze offers competitive FX rates, unlike banks which typically add a substantial markup and FX admin fee. Thus, you get the best possible value for your FX transactions and overseas purchases with amaze.
Exchange rates and applicable FX fees are available in-app after you initiate a transaction. amaze offers competitive exchange rates which are very close to the published rates you can see on Google or other financial sites.
Historically speaking, the rate Amaze used was very close to the spot rate.
In my recent experience, however, things have changed. Let’s take the New Zealand Dollar (NZD) as an example, since I’ve been charging quite a few transactions in this currency lately.
|SGD per 1 NZD|
(numbers in bracket represent Amaze spread)
I’m not so much interested in the cases where the difference is <0.5%, but what’s clear to me is that there have been certain transactions where Amaze’s rates were up to 1.9% higher than spot prices.
At the same time, there isn’t a clear pattern to this, because on other days the difference is marginal.
Another reader provided these rates for transactions made in GBP. Notice how the Amaze rate tracks Mastercard until 26 April (or possibly earlier), when it starts diverging.
Other users in the Telegram Group have reported similar divergences for AUD, EUR, KRW, and USD, which hover around 1%. However, those transacting in VND and IDR have reported Amaze rates very similar to spot, so there’s no consistent pattern here.
Should you still use Amaze?
Amaze offers 1% cashback on FX transactions (with a minimum spend of S$1,500 per quarter, capped at S$50 per quarter), which means they could charge a 1% spread over spot rates, and it’d be a wash overall; at least for spending within the caps.
But even beyond that, I’m fine so long as Amaze offers relative parity with Mastercard rates. That’s because the alternative for me, should Amaze not exist, would be to use a traditional credit card and incur Mastercard rates + applicable FCY fees (if your alternative would be to use Revolut or YouTrip, then the spot rates would be more relevant).
For my NZD transactions, Amaze was charging a sub-1% spread over Mastercard, meaning I still came out on top once the 4 mpd is factored in. However, it does mean the sweet spot is ever-so-slightly smaller, and keep in mind you won’t actually know the rate that Amaze offers until after the transaction is performed.
Amaze FX rates have historically been very close to spot rates in my experience, but there’s been more divergence of late. It’s not significant enough for me to switch away, but definitely something to keep an eye on.
Instarem is understandably tight-lipped as to how exactly it derives its FX rates, and one imagines the spreads will differ depending on dates and currencies. Still, it’s worth doing a cursory inspection of your transactions now and then, to ensure you’re not paying above the odds.
Amaze users: have you noticed any differences in the rates you’ve been charged recently?