YouTrip – Your New Traveling Wallet

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.  

Credit card payment makes Sydney commuting so easy

IMG_20190516_131505.jpgOne of the the biggest joy of my trip to Sydney was the discovery that I could use the credit card to pay for public transportation.

There’s no need to buy and top up an Opal card. The contactless credit card works perfectly.

Why didn’t they think of this earlier? OK, kudos to Sydney but why not in all major cities in the world? This makes taking public transportation so much easier, especially for travellers.

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I only got to know of this payment method when I wanted to take a ferry to Darling Harbour last week. My Sydney friend said that I could just tap my credit card.

It seems like this feature was introduced last November and is available for all public transportation — light rail, train and ferry. This will be expanded to buses this year.

Having enjoyed the convenience, I’m so glad that Singapore will be implementing contactless card payment using Visa card for train and bus fares from June 6. Mastercard payments have been available since April.

 

Second chance for Garmin

 

Garmin VivoActive 3Truth be told, after my first experience the Garmin Vivosmart, I wanted to steer clear of Garmin. I bought three of the devices — one for me and two for my daughters and all had displays that malfunctioned just after a year of use. That’s not great value by any measure and is a red flag for me.

Based on this negative experience. I never thought that I would consider having another Garmin device. Since then, I’ve been using a Pebble 2, which is still running perfectly after more than two years. Of course, the sad part is that Pebble has since been sold to Fitbit and support is almost non-existent.

Back to Garmin. I was asked if I wanted the Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music as a gift. Believe me, I thought long and hard. There are many other options out there, including the over-priced Apple Watch, various Fitbit models and Samsung Gear devices.

After some research online, I decided to give Garmin a second chance.

It’s been a week since I started using the Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music and so far, the experience has been good. I won’t say “great” yet because I’m still trying to get used to the interface.

Here are five reasons why I like this smartwatch:

  1. Big enough screen. The 1.2-inch display is sufficiently large without being overwhelming. I don’t have a bulky arm so it looks just nice. My hope is that this screen will continue functioning for a long time.
  2. Long battery life. It’s supposed to have up to seven days of battery life, which is wonderful for a short trip overseas without needing to bring the cable. However, when GPS and always-on synching are activated, battery life is considerably shortened to a couple of days. The key is to keep it simple and cut out unnecessary features.
  3. Many pre-loaded settings. I was thrilled to see so many activity settings — walk, run, threadmill, indoor track, bike, bike indoor, walk indoor, floor climb, pool swim, and strength among others. This makes it easy to get started on many activities.
  4. Simple customisation. The Garmin Connect app is easy to use and allows downloading of apps, changing of watch faces and smart notification settings.
  5. Easy payment. I’m not talking about installment payment for the smartwatch but rather the Garmin Pay feature which enables contactless payment for purchases when tagged to a credit card. At the moment, only OCBC Bank in Singapore supports Garmin Pay, which is fine with me because I have the bank’s credit card.

I’ve yet to try out the music feature as I’m more accustomed to Spotify, which is currently not supported by the smartwatch.

Overall, the signs are good and I am optimistic that the Garmin Vivoactive 3 can at least match my sturdy Pebble 2’s shelf life.

 

Fraudulent iTunes charges

Stanchart.pngChannel News Asia reported yesterday that dozens of Apple customers have had hundreds of dollars each deducted from their bank accounts for purchases they did not make on their iTunes accounts.

This reminded me of my own experience last October. I received a SMS from Standard Chartered Bank that a transaction of S$150 for iTunes was charged to my credit card and to respond if I did or did not make the transaction (see above).

As I did not, I replied accordingly but did not get any further response from the bank. I thought that was that until I received my credit card bill.

The bill showed two charges of S$150 each from iTunes. I was aghast and immediately called the bank where the call centre person told me to call iTunes instead as these were already charged. After persisting that I did not make these transactions, she relented and said that the bank will put a hold on that amount provided I file a report so that the bank investigate.

She told me that the case can take months to assess and conclude. As of today (nine months later), I’ve yet to hear of any closure to the case — and I hope that everything has been settled.

My questions are:

  1. What’s the point of the SMS reply if the bank does not follow up?
  2. Since I have already indicated that I did not make the first transaction, why did the bank allow the second transaction?

Herein lies a process that is good in thought but flawed in execution. Obviously, somebody must have received my reply but nobody bothered to follow up with a call, thus letting the cheat get away with a second transaction.

From my experience, I’d like to share the following tips should you encounter a similar incident.

  1. Contact your bank immediately.
  2. Do not pay for any fraudulent transaction no matter what the call centre person says.
  3. Ask for the transactions to be investigated.
  4. File a report, if necessary.
  5. Ask for a replacement credit card as the details have been compromised.
  6. Change your iTunes password.

Remember, always check your credit card bill clearly and do not pay blindly.