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Money & costs

Money

Currency and exchange

Singapore's currency is the Singapore dollar. Coins come in denominations of 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, and one dollar. Bills come in notes of $2, $5, $10, $50, $100, $1,000, and $10,000.

Taxes

Everyone leaving Singapore pays a departure tax, known as a Passenger Service Charge, of S$21. If it's not already included with the price of your ticket, it's payable at the airport. To save time and avoid standing in line, buy a tax voucher at your hotel or any airline office. Passengers who are in Singapore for less than 24 hours may leave the airport without paying this tax.

Value-added tax

There's a 7% sales tax, called the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the equivalent of Value-Added Tax. You can get the tax refunded at Global Refund Singapore counters in the airport as you leave the country for purchases of more than S$300 made at a store or retail chain displaying the Tax Free Shopping sticker (you can pool individual receipts for S$100 or more). When making a purchase, ask for a Tax Free Shopping Cheque, and find out whether the merchant gives refunds—not all stores do, nor are they required to. Have the form stamped like any customs form by customs officials when you leave Singapore. Be ready to show customs officials what you've bought. If you want to pack your purchases in your check-in luggage, head for the GST Refund Inspection Counter after you're through passport control. You can either take the form to a refund-service counter for an on-the-spot refund, mail it to the address on the form (or the envelope with it) after you arrive home, or ask for a refund to your credit card, though a surcharge may be levied for this option. Visit www.changiairport.com.sg for more information.

Tipping

Tipping isn't common in Singapore. High-end hotels and restaurants automatically levy a 10% service charge. Taxi drivers don't receive tips from Singaporeans

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.

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.

Credit cards

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

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.

Typical costs

Accommodation – Accommodation isn’t cheap in Singapore. A night in a hostel dorm will cost around $18-25 USD, and a budget hotel starts at $40 USD for a basic double room with fan. Most hotels here are around $80-100 USD per night.

Food – There are plenty of low-cost eateries around Singapore with street stalls typically selling food for less than $4 USD per meal. Chinese and Indian food is usually around $6-7 USD per meal. Most casual restaurants are around $15 USD and after that, the sky is the limit.

Transportation – There are plenty of buses and taxis around Singapore, but the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) runs the length and breadth of the country. MRT tickets vary in price, as they are based on the distance traveled, but generally cost around $3 USD.

Activities – On the whole, activities in Singapore are not that expensive. Some, like the Singapore Botanical Gardens and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, are free.  Entrance to Singapore Zoo is $17 USD and Underwater World is $23 USD.

Money saving tips

Take public transit – Travel on public transport is just $8 USD per day for tourists with a Singapore Tourist Pass. This will get you unlimited rides on a number of buses and trains.

Eat on Smith Street – The stalls here offer food for less than $4 USD and are a great place to sample local snacks.

Eat cheap – Save money on food by eating in Little India, Chinatown, or the hawker stalls throughout the town. Meals in these places cost only a few dollars.

See more Singapore travel guide at here.