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A Singaporean's Guide to Visa Credit Card Surcharge Fees

profileJoel Koh

With Vaccinated Travel Lanes opening up left and right, you’re probably planning to travel again.

And if you’re financially savvy, like our Seedly community

You’ll probably be looking at ways to lower or minimise paying extra on the foreign exchange rate.

One of the best ways to do so is by using the YouTrip card.

Source: YouTrip

Unfortunately, come 20 December 2021, a 1.5% service fee will be applied for YouTrip account top-ups made using Visa credit cards.

This is not the first time platforms and services have imposed a surcharge for using Visa credit cards and other credit cards.

Here’s all you need to know about which platforms and services are imposing a Visa surcharge fee.


TL;DR: Platforms and Services in Singapore That Impose a Visa Credit Card Surcharge

Wondering if the platform or service that you’re using has a Visa credit card surcharge?

This table will help:

Platform or ServiceSurcharge or Fee(s)Remarks
Amazon.sg0.5% surchargeFor purchases on SG site
GrabPay wallet$1 processing feeFor wallet top-ups below $400
Taxis (ComfortDelGro/Trans-Cab/Premier)10% administrative fee

(FYI: also applicable to other credit cards too)
Applied when you flag or book taxis directly

Note: fees will also be charged when you use other types of credit cards
YouTrip1.5% service feeFor top-ups from 20 Dec 2021, 9am

Don’t worry… we’ll also show you how to avoid these surcharges, legally of course.


Which Platforms and Services in Singapore Impose a Visa Credit Card Surcharge?

Currently, there are a few platforms and services in Singapore that have implemented Visa credit card surcharge fees.

Or have plans to impose Visa credit card surcharge fees.

For those going, “Can like this meh?!”

This is allowed as there’s no law in Singapore that prevents merchants from passing on merchant credit card fees to customers via surcharges.

However, Visa frowns upon this practice as stated in their official U.S. site:

Surcharging remains prohibited outside the U.S. unless there is a local law or variance that requires merchants be permitted to engage in the practice.

But in reality, enforcement of this is not as straightforward for Visa…

Amazon Singapore Visa Surcharge

Case in point, Amazon.

Source: u/longtongislife on r/Singapore | Email sent by Amazon.sg to its users on 10 August 2021

From 1 November 2021, Amazon has started levying a 0.5 per cent surcharge on purchases made using a Visa credit card on its Singapore site Amazon.sg.

In a statement to The Straits Times, an Amazon spokesperson gave this reason for imposing the surcharge:

These costs should be going down over time, with innovation and technological advancements, which allow merchants to reinvest savings into low prices and shopping enhancements for customers. Yet, despite these advancements, some cards’ cost of payments continues to stay high or even rise. As a result of Visa’s continued high cost of payments, a surcharge is being added to Visa credit card payments in Singapore.

In response, Visa stated that:

Visa maintains that the simplest, most economically efficient and consumer-friendly approach is for merchants to not surcharge consumers for using cashless payment methods.
Consumers who choose to pay with cards should have to pay for only the cost of the service provided or purchased item. Merchant surcharging has a negative impact on consumers and businesses.

More importantly, the surcharge will not be levied on payment for other goods and services like:

  • Amazon Fresh groceries
  • Amazon Prime subscription fee, and
  • digital purchases on Amazon-owned streaming service Twitch

Also, it’s worth noting that this surcharge is ONLY limited to Amazon.sg.

This means that you will not have to pay this surcharge when purchasing products directly from Amazon.com and shipping them to Singapore instead.

Grab Visa Processing Fee

Since 1 October 2021, Grab implemented a $1 processing fee for all GrabPay wallet top-ups made using a Visa credit card.

TL;DR: find other ways to make your top-ups if you wish to avoid the processing fee.

Here’s all you need to know about this “processing fee” and how to avoid it:

Singapore Taxis Administrative Fee

Back in 2013, Visa had a very public falling out with taxi companies in Singapore.

The latter were imposing a 10 per cent admin fee for using a Visa credit card or any credit card to pay for taxi fares.

Even after Visa requested for the taxi companies to waive this fee, they did not back down.

As a result, Visa payment services for ComfortDelGro Corporation Ltd (SGX: C52), Trans-Cab and Prime taxis, Premier and SMRT were suspended from July 2013.

But in 2015, Visa reinstated its payment services for ComfortDelGro Corporation Ltd (SGX: C52), Trans-Cab and Premier taxis with the 10 per cent surcharge.

FYI: this 10% admin fee is also applicable to other credit cards too

This is less of an issue now as you can book taxis using third-party apps like Grab and Gojek without incurring the 10 per cent surcharge when paying with your credit cards.

P.S. DBS will waive the 10 per cent administrative fee for ComfortDelGro if you pay with your DBS/POSB Mastercard & Visa Cards and book using:

  • ComfortRIDE via ComfortDelGro Booking App
  • Street Hail via ComfortDelGro Booking App

The promotion is valid from 26 July 2019 to 31 January 2023.

YouTrip Visa Service Fee

The latest company to levy a Visa surcharge is… YouTrip.

From 20 December 2021 at 9am, a 1.5 per cent service fee will be applied for YouTrip account top-ups made using Visa credit cards.

If you’re using a Visa debit card, you will not be subjected to this service fee.

Alternatively, you can choose to make top-ups via:

  • PayNow
  • Mastercard debit or credit cards

in order to avoid the service fee as well.

YouTrip also recommends that you change your default top-up method via the YouTrip app before the 20 December 2021 deadline.

How to Avoid These Visa Surcharges and Credit Card Fees

It’s really easy to avoid the Visa surcharges for Amazon, YouTrip and taxi fares.

For Amazon.sg, you could always choose to pay via:

  • AMEX
  • China Union Pay/Union Pay
  • Mastercard debit or credit cards
  • Visa debit cards

For YouTrip, you may continue to top up your wallet for free via:

  • PayNow
  • Mastercard debit or credit cards
  • Visa debit cards

For taxis, you should only book your ride via third-party ride-hailing apps like:

  • Grab
  • GoJek

BUT… you’ll have to pay booking fees (between $2.60 to $8.30) when you make a standard or advance booking of a taxi using those ride-hailing apps.

If you’d like to continue using a credit card to pay for stuff without dealing with the Visa surcharge as well as the myriad of payment options available…

You can always just switch to a Mastercard credit card instead.

Need help figuring out which is the best Mastercard credit card?

We got you.

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About Joel Koh
History student turned writer at Seedly. Before you ask, not a teacher. My time as a history student has equipped me with the skills to evaluate the impact societal development has on financial and nonfinancial events.
You can contribute your thoughts like Joel Koh here.

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