Payment Modes in Singapore for Travelers

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A Guide of Payment Modes in Singapore for Travelers: Best Tips for Transport, Dining, and Hawker Centres

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Overview of Payment Modes in Singapore for Travelers

Singapore offers many payment options catering to the needs of locals and travelers.

In this guide, we will cover the multiple payment modes in Singapore, specifically for travelers.

Singapore Dollar Notes for Cash Payment in Singapore

The country’s shift towards a cashless economy is reflected in the widespread acceptance of various payment modes.

While cash is still commonly used, especially at smaller hawker centers and markets, alternatives like credit cards, debit cards, and NETS (Network for Electronic Transfers) are everywhere across the city-state, from high-end shopping malls to traditional food stalls.

Contactless payments and digital wallets are swiftly gaining popularity for their convenience.

Apple Pay vs Google Pay in Singapore
PAynow Paylah in Singapore

Tourists can make payments using their mobile phones via apps like Apple Pay and Google Pay or local solutions such as PayLah! and PayNow.

These systems allow for quick and secure transactions with a simple tap or scan of a QR code.

Foreign travelers should note that while multi-currency cards and traveler’s checks are accepted in some places, these are less common.

It’s advisable to exchange some amount for Singapore dollars for smaller purchases where digital transactions are impossible.

Here is a breakdown of payment methods available:

Payment Modes in SingaporeAccepted atRemarks
CashNearly everywherePreferred in smaller establishments
Credit/Debit CardsMost retailersWidely accepted; includes Visa, Mastercard, and American Express
NETSRetailers, taxis, some hawkersLocal debit payment system
Mobile PaymentsVarying retailersContactless and QR code payments
Traveler’s ChecksLimitedBest to exchange for SGD

For convenience and a seamless experience, travelers are advised to use a mix of payment modes.

A contactless card or mobile payment can serve most transactions while keeping some cash enables visits to cash-only vendors.

Read our Essential Travel Apps for your Singapore Trip:

24 Best Apps for Singapore Travel: Explore the City with Ease!

Public Transportation Payment Systems

Travelers in Singapore enjoy a seamless experience regarding transportation payment systems, with multiple options catering to both efficiency and convenience.

Public Transport Options

Singapore’s public transportation is renowned for its reliability and coverage, with the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and buses forming its backbone.

Transportation MRT Cashless with Credit Card
Top Up the EzLINK with Cashless

Commuters can access these services using an EZ-Link card, a FlashPay card, or a contactless bank card. These cards are readily available and can be topped up at various locations.

Alternatively, payment can be made through mobile wallets on one’s smartwatch or smartphone, making the process even more straightforward.

Payment Modes in SingaporeDescriptionWhere to Use
EZ-Link CardA stored-value card that can be topped up and used for multiple transport modesMRT, buses, and some taxis
NETS FlashPayAnother stored-value card option, similar to EZ-LinkMRT, buses, taxis, and retail outlets
Contactless Bank CardsCredit and debit cards with contactless payment capabilitiesMRT, buses, and some taxis
Mobile WalletsE-payment apps such as GrabPay, linked to one’s phone or smartwatchTaxis and ride-hailing services

Taxi and Ride-Hailing Services

The next topic in our guide to payment modes in Singapore is taxi and ride-hailing services.

Taxis and ride-hailing services provide an alternative for more direct routes or traveling late at night. Services like Grab allow payment through their GrabPay wallet, an in-app mobile payment solution.

Grab Pay

Riders can also pay using PayNow, facilitating immediate transfers between bank accounts using a mobile number or Singapore NRIC/FIN.

Credit Cards and other contactless payment options (such as Google Pay, Apple Pay, Ali Pay, etc.) can also be used on taxis or private hire, but there is additional surcharges.

Contactless payment options are preferable for visitors as they can be used without incurring foreign transaction fees.

Taxis in Singapore are also equipped to accept EZ-Link and NETS FlashPay cards for payment, offering a frictionless payment experience for passengers.

My Tips as a local: Always prepare a stand-by cash of around $100 everywhere you go for the transport; in case your credit card is an error or the Private Hire App is not working correctly, at least you can proceed as usual with cash payment.

Save your money by reading the details of Taxi Surcharges in Singapore:

Taxi Surcharges in Singapore: A Quick Guide for Passengers

Eating Out: What are the best Payment Modes in Singapore?

When dining out in Singapore, travelers will find a variety of payment methods at their disposal.

Restaurants and Cafes

Customers can expect to pay using Visa and Mastercard in restaurants and cafes, as these are widely accepted. Diners often have the option to pay with either their credit or debit cards.

Payment Modes in Singapore for Travelers

Many establishments also support payment through NETS, a typical local payment solution that links directly to Singaporean bank accounts.

  • Credit/Debit Cards: Accepted universally, offering convenience.
  • NETS: Direct payment from bank accounts, widely used by locals.

Apart from traditional payment methods, restaurants are increasingly adopting cashless payment systems such as SGQR and PayNow, which allow customers to make payments by scanning a QR code using their smartphones.

Hawker Centres and Food Stalls

Moving to the more traditional hawker centers and food stalls, there has been a significant shift towards cashless payments.

While cash remains a prevalent method, vendors progressively embrace digital payments to cater to changing consumer behaviors.

  • Cash: Still commonly used, especially in smaller stalls.
  • Cashless Payments: Growing in popularity for faster transactions.
SGQR at SG Hawker Centre stalls
SGQR has become one of the Payment Modes in Singapore for the food stalls

A standard system in hawker centers uses a QR code payment structure, where customers can scan the stall’s QR code and pay through apps like GrabPay, Paynow, and Paylah.

This simplifies the transaction and minimizes the physical handling of money, aligning with the country’s push for a more innovative, cashless society.

Shopping and Discounts

In Singapore, shoppers can experience a seamless and efficient purchasing experience with a mix of traditional and modern payment options.

Discounts and sales are prevalent, allowing savvy travelers to save while indulging in their shopping spree.

Retail Shopping

Regarding retail shopping in Singapore, customers are often greeted with many payment options.

Marina BAy Sands Mall Singapore

Most retailers accept various cards, including Visa and Mastercard, and they are easily facilitated for those who prefer debit card transactions.

Digital payment platforms have become a staple in streamlining checkout in many urban retail environments.

Shoppers may also want to look out for participating outlets that offer discounts when using certain credit cards or digital payment platforms, further enhancing convenience and potential savings.

  • Card Payments: Widely accepted, often including rewards or cashback.
  • Digital Payment Platforms: Increasingly common; may provide exclusive discounts.

Markets and Street Vendors

Markets and street vendors in Singapore might lean more towards cash transactions but are progressively embracing digital payment platforms like GrabPay, which allow for contactless card payments.

cash payment in wet market - Payment Modes in Singapore
Cash Payments in the wet market are still one of the primary payment modes in Singapore.
Arab Street Market - preferaby use cash as  one of the Payment Modes in Singapore

Some vendors also accept debit and credit cards, providing buyers with the convenience of cashless purchases.

Travelers should watch for occasional sales and ask for any possible discounts for using particular payment methods.

  • Cash: Still a prevalent form of payment.
  • Contactless Card Payments: Growing acceptance promotes a quick and secure way to pay.

Managing Currency and Budget

When planning a trip to Singapore, travelers should be mindful of their budget and the various modes of payment available. Utilizing a combination of cash, credit cards, and mobile wallet applications can streamline purchases ranging from transport to dining.

Payment Modes in SingaporeUse CaseNote
CashHawker centers, Small vendorsCarry small denominations
Credit CardsRestaurants, Shopping mallsLook for no foreign fee cards
Mobile WalletTaxis, MRT, BusesTop up with local currency

Singapore’s currency is the Singapore Dollar (SGD), with coins in denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents and notes ranging from $2 to $1,000.

Visitors rarely encounter cheques as they are not a standard payment method for daily transactions.

For those looking to manage their budget wisely, using apps like Revolut can be beneficial.

These apps typically offer competitive exchange rates and the ability to track spending in real time. Additionally, they might offer options like freezing a card if it’s lost or stolen.

An essential tip for tourists is to leverage mobile apps widely used in Singapore for payment and discounts, such as GrabPay for transportation or Foodpanda for meal deliveries.

Read our Essential Travel Apps for your Singapore Trip:

24 Best Apps for Singapore Travel: Explore the City with Ease!

Remember to inform your bank before traveling to avoid card suspensions due to sudden foreign activity.

Tourists should also know the potential fees associated with international transactions and withdrawals and seek cards that offer perks, such as waiving those fees.

Being informed about the local payment ecosystem allows travelers to enjoy Singapore’s offerings seamlessly without overspending or facing payment issues.

I hope this guide can help you navigate payment modes in Singapore while traveling.

Frequently Asked Questions

Travelers in Singapore can navigate the city’s payment options with ease, knowing that both modern and traditional methods are widely available.

From hawker centers to food markets, understanding the local payment landscape enhances the travel experience.

  1. What payment methods are accepted at hawker centers in Singapore?

    Hawker centers in Singapore typically accept cash as the primary payment method.
    However, some stalls might also accept digital payments like NETS or mobile apps, catering to the convenience of locals and tourists.

  2. Can you buy alcohol at hawker centers, and what are the payment options for it?

    Yes, one can purchase alcohol at hawker centers, and the stalls that offer alcoholic beverages usually accept cash. Some may also accept digital payments depending on the individual vendor’s available facilities.

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