Singapore Expats Forum

Best exchange rate for moving large sums from SGD to USD?

Discuss about life in Singapore. Ask about cost of living, housing, travel, etiquette & lifestyle. Share experience & advice with Singaporeans & expat staying in Singapore.

Sponsored by:
Image
AE Logistics - Movers & Storage

Grumpy77
Chatter
Chatter
Posts: 151
Joined: Thu, 30 Jul 2009

Re: Best exchange rate for moving large sums from SGD to USD?

Postby Grumpy77 » Wed, 18 May 2016 10:09 pm

As already mentioned, it is highly dangerous to carry more than the minimum required to facilitate your travel as US police simply confiscate anything they see as 'too much'. Their MO is to create a nightmare where you need to spend months and many trips to a courtroom to prove you are not a criminal. There is no more assumption of innocence - your funds are considered a lovely little revenue stream to buy more riot gear.

Against what BBC mentioned, the safest method is to use a local MAS regulated remitter as they are 100% required to complete or make-good the transaction (assuming you supply correct bene info).

Next safest is either using an overseas fx provider, or if you stomach the hype and learning curve then bitcoin.

User avatar
Brah
Manager
Manager
Posts: 1956
Joined: Sat, 18 Dec 2010

Re: Best exchange rate for moving large sums from SGD to USD?

Postby Brah » Wed, 18 May 2016 10:29 pm

JR8 wrote:[... perhaps my reasons for suggesting carrying it in cash are becoming a little clearer? ;)]

I have not forgotten that, and it remains a serious consideration.
Ape Shall Not Kill Ape.

User avatar
JR8
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 16514
Joined: Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Location: K. Puki Manis

Re: Best exchange rate for moving large sums from SGD to USD?

Postby JR8 » Wed, 18 May 2016 10:54 pm

The apparently doom-laden statute wasn't even linked so that the suggested 'reasonable grounds' for confiscation might be considered. Vs which you have payslips, bank statements, a receipt from the money-changer, reasonable cause to be carrying it; repatriating home after a relo away being a very solid one IMO/E.

I've done it twice at Heathrow, and declared it to customs. Their questions were simple to answer. Remember there are reporting limits, but they are not absolute limits. And if bitcoin etc were such a simple route around customs vs physically carrying it and declaring it, then how come it's still legal?

But as you wish... :)
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard

User avatar
Brah
Manager
Manager
Posts: 1956
Joined: Sat, 18 Dec 2010

Re: Best exchange rate for moving large sums from SGD to USD?

Postby Brah » Wed, 18 May 2016 11:33 pm

JR8 wrote:The apparently doom-laden statute wasn't even linked so that the suggested 'reasonable grounds' for confiscation might be considered. Vs which you have payslips, bank statements, a receipt from the money-changer, reasonable cause to be carrying it; repatriating home after a relo away being a very solid one IMO/E.

I wonder what the biggest bank notes for SGD are. And JPY......
Ape Shall Not Kill Ape.

User avatar
sundaymorningstaple
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 34270
Joined: Thu, 11 Nov 2004
Location: Still Fishing!
Contact:

Re: Best exchange rate for moving large sums from SGD to USD?

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 18 May 2016 11:46 pm

Singapore, $1000. The $10,000 were discontinued a year or so ago.

http://www.ifaq.gov.sg/MAS/TOPICS/CURRE ... #FAQ_65788

User avatar
JR8
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 16514
Joined: Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Location: K. Puki Manis

Re: Best exchange rate for moving large sums from SGD to USD?

Postby JR8 » Thu, 19 May 2016 1:00 am

Brah wrote:
JR8 wrote:I wonder what the biggest bank notes for SGD are. And JPY......


First time I did my pre-exit x-border cash extraction is was (IIRC) something like S$25k. I closed my a/c at DBS, Raffles Place. And since I was going straight to the next door 'The Arcade' to change it I wanted it as small, discreet and portable as possible. So that was 2 * S$10k bills and a few $1k's and then the rest.
I remember when I drew it out of DBS I had to manually sign in a large hand-written financial ledger/book, for each of the $10k bills, their individual serial numbers, my id, signature etc. [Pretty weird eh?!]. Then I had to do similar again at the money-changer. Clearly even back then MAS kept a very close eye on those big and mobile bank-notes... but again, 'nothing to hide - nothing to fear' eh...

There has been a more recent and wider move progressively in recent times to reduce the max size of notes in normal circulation. That is precisely to reduce the use of large bills for money laundering, viable counter-fitting etc. Maybe typically -> UK = GBP50, US = US$100, SG = realistically perhaps S$100, Euro = Eu100. Same reason I wouldn't touch anything (for regular use) over those denominations, just way too difficult and treated with suspicion.

2nd time I left SG. I had far less cash that time. Maybe $5-10k. I took that out in max denomination $100 bills, specifically to avoid additional bureaucracy.

Don't know re: Yen, but the biggest note I've ever seen is the 'Ichii-mon', i.e. Y10k

p.s. This was why even back then the S$10k note was so amazing. It was worth about 100 more that the biggest UK banknote of the time. It is a physically big thing too. I remember taking double-sided photocopies of the two I had, just for posterity... still have one somewhere, I used to used them as book-marks :)
Last edited by JR8 on Thu, 19 May 2016 1:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard

User avatar
sundaymorningstaple
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 34270
Joined: Thu, 11 Nov 2004
Location: Still Fishing!
Contact:

Re: Best exchange rate for moving large sums from SGD to USD?

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 19 May 2016 1:09 am

Don't know what happened to the second half of my post, but the largest Japanese note is 10,000 Yen.

https://www.boj.or.jp/en/note_tfjgs/not ... index.htm/

User avatar
JR8
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 16514
Joined: Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Location: K. Puki Manis

Re: Best exchange rate for moving large sums from SGD to USD?

Postby JR8 » Thu, 19 May 2016 1:30 am

Yep the Y10k is the biggest I've seen. Considering the cost of living there it's not a lot really, even 20 years ago that might be one average night out clubbing/boozing. Or less than you'd typically splash on one of our SGn 'Eagle's nights' out :)
Same as I never saw above a US$100 bill in the US despite time on Wall Street etc. amongst some supposedly 'big-swingers'.
I think that's why the SGn big bills were such a memorable stand-out... far bigger than anything you were likely to find anywhere else in the world.
I reckon big bills used to be something of a national Treasury dick-extension, but money-laundering finished them off. The likes of Euro500 notes etc. are verging on pariah objects these days, and personally even the few EU100's I've had have been inconvenient to use, and the likes of Eu200's downright uncomfortable since there's a chance they'll simply be refused.
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard

BBCWatcher
Editor
Editor
Posts: 1035
Joined: Sun, 13 Sep 2015

Re: Best exchange rate for moving large sums from SGD to USD?

Postby BBCWatcher » Thu, 19 May 2016 8:56 am

Cash has already been ruled out, properly so. Banks don't want to deal with the stuff in any large quantity, and they charge to handle it. There are declarations to make as it's carried, and there is significant risk of loss, theft, or confiscation. Not recommended.

Interactive Brokers has a local custodial account in Singapore at Citibank. Assuming you have opened a Singapore dollar-denominated (SGD "base currency") account with IB, you use GIRO or FAST to transfer funds into their custodial account. Total cost so far: zero. Usually within an hour or two of receipt the funds pop up in your IB account. You then go to the Forex section of their trading site and buy U.S. dollars. You can set a limit price and wait, or you can execute the trade immediately at a very narrow spread. IB charges 0.2(*) basis points (0.002%) for the conversion with a minimum of US$2 per trade and US$10 in commissions per month (assuming a minimum US$2,000 account balance value; US$20 otherwise). For "mere mortals" the minimum commission will govern, and it will for a $100,000 sum. Total cost so far: IB's commission plus the (very narrow) spread, arguably less if you're slightly patient and set a limit price. Finally, you withdraw the U.S. dollar funds via the ACH (U.S. domestic clearing) network to your U.S. bank or credit union. (Both the sending and receiving bank accounts must be in your name.) You can make one ACH withdrawal per month free of charge.

That's pretty tough to beat, at least for "thousands and up." If you're trying to convert $100 then yes, try Raffles Arcade. If anybody can beat IB, please let me know. I'm always interested in alternatives.

....One alternative that generally doesn't beat IB is Charles Schwab, but it's worth mentioning since Schwab can still be a good option. If you have a Charles Schwab brokerage account in the U.S. (free to have) then you can deposit Singapore dollar funds into Schwab's custodial account in Singapore via GIRO or FAST. You can't control the exact timing of the conversion -- no limit price available -- but that path seems to result in a pretty good total cost of about 0.3%, plus or minus. There's no charge for the GIRO/FAST transfer inbound, and your funds automatically land in your U.S. Schwab account, ready to do whatever you want (including free ACH transfer out if you wish). So if you're in the "hundreds to thousands" monthly range I think I'd recommend Schwab for the Singapore-to-U.S. remittance path. Charles Schwab (even the brokerage; you don't need a Schwab Bank account) has a fantastic debit/ATM card as well that's great for international travelers: no foreign exchange fee (except for whatever the Visa network charges) plus ATM fee rebates if the ATM operator charges a fee. That might be the best debit/ATM card in the world right now.

....For what it's worth, my current favorite U.S. credit card is the obscure Citizens Bank CashBack Plus World MasterCard -- assuming that you set it up for automatic full monthly balance payment, as always with credit cards. And assuming you don't use the card at an ATM and only use it for merchant purchases. That card gives you the pure MasterCard network rate (slightly better than Visa's) with no foreign exchange markup plus a 1.65% rebate, assuming you use the card at least once per month. (If you don't then you get 1.5% back -- still excellent.) The only thing I don't like about that card is you've got to call them up (on the phone) to let them know about upcoming use of the card outside the United States. You can't notify them online yet, unfortunately. There's no annual fee for that card.

(*) Less if you're converting US$1 million or more. Most of us are not, sadly. ;)


  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to “Staying, Living in Singapore”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest