The currency in Singapore is the Singapore dollar, which often gets abbreviated to SGD. You’ll see it written simply using the dollar sign $, or as S$ to differentiate it from other dollar currencies. It’s available in denominations of $1, $5, $10, $50 and $100. Notes feature Yusof bin Ishak, the first President of the Republic of Singapore, while on the reverse you’ll see scenes representing the nation’s civic values of education, the garden city concept, sports, the arts, youth, government and economics.
A Singapore dollar is made up of 100 cents, in 5 cent, 10 cent, 20 cent, 50 cent and one dollar coins. Only the 5-cent coin is brass-plated, with the rest being nickel, while the dollar coin is a mix of the two, with a brass outer ring and nickel centre. The front shows the nation’s coat of arms and features the name ‘Singapore’ written in the island’s four official languages, English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. On the reverse are national landmarks, including the Esplanade, Changi International Airport and the Merlion.
An agreement between the Singapore and Brunei governments means that the Singapore dollar is also accepted in Brunei and vice versa. So, you can change your Brunei dollars (should you have them) in any Singapore bank, like for like with no charge. Similarly, shops and businesses in Singapore are encouraged to accept the Brunei dollar in place of the Singapore dollar.
You can, of course, change your sterling currency in Singapore, but you may find it more convenient to change some prior to travelling. It’s a very safe city, so it’s no problem to carry cash on you. You might want to arrive on the island with a moderate amount for the first 24 hours, to take care of cab fare, tips and the first evening’s meal, then seek out the city’s many ATMs to top up. Your regular debit card for your current account in the UK will do the job, but make sure to let your bank know where you are travelling to and when, since most banks will now put a stop on any card with unusual activity as a security measure.
Or if you’re looking for a good alternative to carrying cash, think about using the Cash Passport from MasterCard by Thomas Cook. It’s like a debit card and can be used in ATMs and to pay for goods at the point of sale in the usual way. But the difference is, you load it with the credit you need from your bank account before you travel. It’s a great way of sticking to a tight budget, and is protected by 24/7 global assistance, including free card replacement if lost or stolen. Travel money has never been so safe and simple.