About to go to Malaysia and Singapore. I have a credit card for foreign transactions and a debit card for taking out money from foreign ATMs (this setup is just the best way to avoid foreign transaction fees and get the best exchange rate for me).

I'm trying to decide how much cash to load up on the debit card. Are credit cards used widely in Singapore and Malaysia? Here in Australia, credit cards are used everywhere even for tiny transactions and there are never really fees so I might stick a $20 in mywallet, and it might take me a month or two before I have to withdraw again.

Is that the same in Singapore and Malaysia? Can I basically just assume most of my costs will be on credit card?

2 Answers 2


For both Singapore and Malaysia credit cards are widely used. But for Malaysia, I would certainly have cash (Ringgit) on hand.

You can probably conduct all of your business in Singapore with a credit card. Some, smaller merchants may not take credit card. I'm thinking primarily of the hawker centers, I always paid in cash.

In Malaysia, I strongly recommend having cash on hand. Depending on what you're doing cash may be the only, or may simply be the best solution. Examples include short distance taxies, street food, and smaller merchants. If you are visiting outside of a developed portion of Malaysia then cash may be the only option. It is possible to visit Malaysia with only credit cards, but I do not think the friction is worth the ATM savings.


For Singapore, this really depends on where you shop and eat. Most shops and restaurants, especially in malls, will accept credit cards and there are generally no extra fees for using those. However, some cheaper restaurants even in malls will have cash and NETS (local debit card) only and if you want to eat in hawkwer centres or food courts (and you should) you will most likely need cash.

There is a big push to go cashless and there's a myriad of ewallet services. Some are linked to local bank accounts, but some are usable with credit cards (GrabPay for instance). However, this might not be ideal, because this is not accepted everywhere yet and you will probably end up with a balance at the end of your trip.

I don't have that much experience with Malaysia, but from what I have seen from my trips, the situation is quite similar.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .