YouTrip – Your New Traveling Wallet

YouTrip Card

In today’s day and age, many have taken to e-payment rather than conventional cash. If you travel often enough, you may have realised by now that while it is convenient, using the credit card for overseas payment often results in an additional one- to three-percent transaction fee, and that’s on top of the less than favourable currency conversion rates. A tip a friend shared on her trip to the US earlier this year was to use YouTrip instead.

YouTrip is a multi-currency travel wallet that comes in a form of a physical card and is managed through an app. This partnership between Mastercard and Ezlink helps travellers to save by allowing us to:

  1. Convert currencies and store them within the e-wallet (up to 10 specific currencies)
  2. Use it for e-payment and cash withdrawal overseas

Let me share a scenario on how this app works.

Before a trip to Australia, I topped up S$200 to my e-wallet via the app. As I saw that the conversion rate was in my favour (i.e. S$1 = A$1.055), I chose to convert half the amount. So now, I have S$100 and A$105.50.

In Australia, I saw a bag which I liked that cost A$150. When I went to the cashier, I took out my card and paid for the item. A$105.50 was deducted from the A$ stored value, and the remaining A$44.50 is converted to SGD and drawn down from my S$ stored value.

So what’s so fascinating about the above scenario?

Firstly, I did not incur any transaction fees. In-app conversion of currencies are free, and using of my card overseas does not charge any bank fees.

Secondly, I knew that I had locked down a favourable rate earlier and even though an amount was deducted from my S$ stored currency, I knew that I was getting the best available rate at the point of transaction (very close to what you see when you Google it real-time).  Also, the transaction was recorded in my app for my reference.

The YouTrip card can be used to withdraw cash at all overseas Mastercard, Maestro or Cirrus ATMs. There is only a small withdrawal fee of S$5 (or equivalent) which will be charged so do not worry about carrying large amounts of cash with you as you can withdraw the cash at your destination. In addition, the YouTrip card can be used for online overseas purchases such as Amazon (US), Taobao, Uber, and Grab (non-Singapore).

Final thoughts

I have personally used the YouTrip card in four countries, and thoroughly enjoyed using it knowing that I’ve gotten the best bang for the buck. I also have peace of mind that this card can be easily deactivated through the app should I misplace my card.

You can read through more of YouTrip’s FAQs here.

PS: New card users can get $10 when using this referral link: https://youtrip.app.link/INEZ%20JIE130144.  

Free Work/Study Spaces in Singapore

Cafes have always been a hide-out for students, and working adults alike for the space to study and work. However, there has been an increasing concern on how businesses are suffering as a result of space usage within cafes with just a single purchase made by these users.

Measures that have been taken include loud (deafening) music, darker areas and even limited Wi-Fi (in 30 min log in periods) and some of these have proven to be pretty successful. However, larger establishments like Starbucks seem to be taking it in their stride by not ‘forcing’ patrons out of their places but instead sticking stickers on all of its tables:

Starbucks x Singapore Kindness Movement

This is a pretty unique way of just encouraging users and I’m honestly all for it. I just found it odd how they should also print a ‘Please clean up after yourself” message together as that advocates kindness as well.

So where are some places where you can get free Wi-Fi and power plugs for the juice to your devices? Here are three FREE places you can study at:

Our Tampines Hub

Opened in 2016, Our Tampines Hub is home to the Tampines Stadium, Tampines Regional Library, and many other facilities. This seven-storey establishment also has many, and I really do mean many, places where one can work and study.

From air-conditioned seating areas to sheltered areas, there are many pockets of canteen-like tables with power plugs nearby. I’ve personally been there in the afternoon and late at night, and on both occasions, many students and adults alike can be seen working hard here.

If you’d like to score an air-conditioned place, you may want to come slightly earlier as these are the more popular spots.

National Libraries

The National Library Board has multiple libraries scattered across Singapore. These locations are popular among students and adults alike because of the free air-conditioning and quiet surroundings they boast.

One such library I’d like to recommend is the brand new library at Vivo City. Spots are limited but once you’ve secured one, you’ll enjoy it as it has a pretty good view to it!

Sengkang Community Centre

Study Area

With the free food and drinks for students, this lecture-like space allows students to study, with both power plugs and Wi-Fi available!

Workspace @ Sengkang CC

Working adults can also make use of Workspace@Sengkang CC which offers private meeting rooms for free – on a first come first serve basis. It also provides coffee and snacks. Learn more here.

Final thoughts

It’s fun to work and study in different environments at times, but let’s all strive to be considerate users of public spaces!

Looking for cheap flights? Here are three sources to consider before making your purchase!

As an avid traveller, I am always on a look-out for cheap deals. Here are three of my go-to sources before planning a trip.

Google Flights

If you do not have a fixed destination in mind, Google flights is a good site for you to explore different destinations based on your budget and travelling time. At the site, after keying in your ideal dates, leave the destination empty and click “Search”

Google Flights

You will then be presented with the following page where the cost to each of the destinations are presented. To refine the search, you can filter based on the number of stops, airlines, times, no. of bags and duration.

Summary of cost per destination with specific filters

For this example, I have selected Osaka as my chosen destination and am presented with the overall potential cost my ticket will be. I have the option to “Track prices” and to also book from the specific sites through the links.

Booking options for selected flight

A feature on this page that I really like is that the bottom where it has a cost comparison on the range of cost of flights to this destination. It gives me a glimpse of the ‘deal’ I’m getting.

For example, if I’m heading to the destination during a peak season, and I see that the cost is in the ‘low/green’ range, I know that I’ve scored a great deal!

Do note that for budget carriers like Scoot, the listed price does not include baggage and credit card fees (usually $20/pax).

Cost comparison of flights to selected destination

Skyscanner

Similar to Google flights, Skyscanner allows users who do not know where they’d like the option to explore. All you need to do is to enter the destination field as “Everywhere”. Skyscanner will then list down the country and estimated cost to the country based on non-stop flight prices.

Exploring destinations on Skyscanner
List of prices of flights ranked lowest to highest by country

Skyscanner provides a good overview of the flight prices and often list additional travel booking sites it searches through as well. However, for the Scoot flight from Singapore to Osaka, the flight price listed in Skyscanner was higher than Scoot’s. Also, Google flight redirects the booking to the actual site while in Skyscanner, the booking is done through the Skyscanner site although the booking is fulfilled by Scoot.

The additional costs, including credit card fee, somehow amounted to $405.18 instead of the $380 it would have cost if I had booked directly from Scoot (including credit card fees).

Booking a Scoot flight using Skyscanner

I’d personally use Skyscanner just to view the range of prices and compare them especially if I’d like the cost to be listed from least to highest.

ITA Matrix

ITA Matrix is less user-friendly but is powered by Google. It provides users with more details on the specific flights it searches through, including the booking type. For a similar search from Singapore to Osaka (24 – 31 Aug 2019), the cost breakdown is as follows:

Breakdown of cost with ITA Matrix

You will notice that the cost is generally higher than the search from both Skyscanner and Google flights.

My analysis is that it doesn’t use real-time data and may have been a screenshot of its last captured data. Hence, cost may be higher and does not take into account a price-drop from the carrier. It is, however, good if you would like to purchase the ticket from a travel agent or the carrier’s agent. See “Fare construction” data just above Total Airfare & Taxes.

Final thoughts

Google flights and Skyscanner are great sites if you are exploring destinations that you may not have considered before and the data on cost and flight timings are also presented in a very intuitive way. For the ITA Matrix software, it is good for looking through data, including multi-city flights, as it provides you with the travel codes and estimated costs.

In addition to the above methods, I would also like to strongly recommend subscribing to the Telegram channel SG Travel Promos where you can be notified on latest travel deals out of Singapore.  

Now that you’ve learnt about the three tools above, why not begin planning for your vacation?

Flying Singapore Airlines while booked on a Scoot flight!

For those that frequent Australia, this might not be new for you – you may receive a notification from Scoot a couple of weeks before your flight to be notified that your flight has been changed to a chartered flight by Singapore Airlines due to tighter aircraft utilization across Scoot’s network.

On a recent trip to Sydney, my return flight to Singapore was changed to a Singapore Airlines flight and here are some of the unique things about flying on this flight.

Check-in counter

The check-in counter was switched from the Scoot check-in counter to the Singapore Airlines check-in counter at Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport Terminal 1. Staff at the check-in counter were Singapore Airlines staff and were not in the bright yellow/black shirt we usually see Scoot staff in.

Meals and snacks

Having not purchased any meal during the booking for this flight, the note in the notification email on the vegetarian/ halal options did not concern me. The note on how water will be served and readily available on the flight did appeal to me though. Also, they indicated that passengers on this flight were able to bring onboard our snacks and drinks on the plane.

The surprise for me, however, was that all passengers on-board the flight (whether you’ve purchased the meal or not) were each given a meal option. An elderly couple seated in front of me were really surprised when the air stewardess approached them for their food choice whilst they were serving the food. She was also kind enough advise the couple to keep their prepared meals for a later time as the 8 hour flight only had that single food-service option.  

Entertainment

On the way to Sydney, I was on ScootBiz, which provided a scaled-down entertainment service through the use of my personal device. That service, however, is usually not provided to passengers flying Scoot economy. To my delight, the entertainment system was turned on throughout the duration of the flight – say ‘yay’ to movies, games, and music! This was definitely a treat for me as I managed to catch-up on some of the latest movies. Two passengers seated behind me also commented as we left the plane that they were spoilt by Scoot and hoped that their return flight to Sydney was also going to be a chartered one.

Final thoughts

The chartered flight back to Singapore was definitely a pleasant one – but what about those add-on items which I’d purchase? Scoot advised that all purchased add-on items, including seats chosen, extra cabin baggage, and scoot priority, will be refunded within 4 weeks of departure of flight.

While I enjoyed my flight, part of me wished that I had purchased ScootBiz for my return flight – ScootBiz passengers were upgraded to the business class seats on the Singapore Airlines flight! Now, that would definitely have been a greater treat.