Forex cards are a great tool for cashless transactions while travelling. They can be used for all electronic transactions and ATM withdrawals and enable you to transact in a local currency without the risk of rate fluctuation. Here is our pick of the top five
AXIS BANK MULTI CURRENCY FOREX CARD
The Axis Bank Multi Currency Forex Card is a single card supporting up to 16 different currencies. It gives insurance coverage up to INR 3,00,000 for lost and stolen card. You can also encash their refunds once you return and its validity is up to five years. Axis Bank Ltd charges INR 300 plus GST to issue a single- or multi-currency forex card.
Reload Fee: INR 100 + GST
Cash Withdrawal: USD 2
Currencies supported: USD, EUR, GBP, SGD, AUD, CAD, SEK, JPY, CHF, AED, SAR, THB, HKD, DKK, NZD and ZAR
THOMAS COOK FOREX CARD
Forex card is one of the mainstream services offered by Thomas Cook. They regulate two variants—Borderless Prepaid Card (multicurrency card) and One Currency Card.
Thomas Cook Borderless Multi Currency Prepaid Card is marketed as one card supporting eight different currencies. This card is globally accepted at 35.2 million merchant establishments. It provides access to wide range of merchant establishments and ATMs. They also provide free replacement of lost or stolen card and an insurance cover up to USD 10,000. The One Currency Card supports only USD.
Issuance Fee: INR 150
Reload Fee: INR 100
Currencies supported: USD, EUR, AUD, GBP, CHF, CAD, SGD, JPY, AED
HDFC REGALIA FOREXPLUS CARD
The USP of HDFC Regalia ForexPlus Card is no cross-currency conversion charges, which is very useful. However, GST is applicable on currency conversion. This card provides complimentary airport lounge access. You can use it online at e-commerce platforms. HDFC Regalia ForexPlus Card offers cashback of 5 pc or 5x Reward Points. It also offers emergency cash delivery at overseas locations.
Issuance Fee: INR 1000
Reload Fee: INR 75 per reload
Balance Enquiry: USD 0.50
ATM Cash Withdrawal: USD 4
Currencies Supported: AUD, AED, CAD, CHF, EUR, GBP, SGD, SEK and USD
ICICI BANK SINGLE CURRENCY FOREX CARD
This is a good choice if you are planning to visit a single location. The best feature of this card is that you can reload it at any of the ICICI Forex branches, their online platform-Forex@Click, or through their iMobile app.
The card also provides benefits such as up to 20 pc discount on dining, shopping and other expenses at merchant outlets across the globe; online account management facility, and a travel insurance cover of up to INR 10, 00,000. You don’t need to have a savings or a current account with ICICI bank for purchasing this card.
Issuance Fee: INR 150 (one time)
Reload Fee: INR 100
Reactive Fee: USD 5 (for every 180 days of inactivity)
Cross Currency Fee: 3.5 pc
Currencies supported: USD, SGD, GBP, AUD, AED, CAD, EUR, CHF and JPY
YES BANK MULTI-CURRENCY TRAVEL FOREX CARD
Yes Bank Multi-Currency Travel Forex Card is a good option for those who plan to visit multiple destinations abroad and don’t want to spend more money on card issuance fee. Even with the lower joining fees, this card offers you 10 currency wallets, but the default currency on this card is USD.
Issuance Fee: INR 125 (one time)
Reload Fee: INR 100
Encashment Fee: INR 75 (every time)
Cross Currency Fee: 2.75 pc
Currencies supported: USD, GBP, EUR, SGD, AUD, AED, JPY, CAD, HKD, CHF
AN AGENT ASSESSES
Debashis Biswas, senior manager-Cluster Sales-Corporate, EBIXCASH World Money Ltd. believes that a forex card is your best friend. “It is especially useful for Indians, who typically worry about how much currency to carry and how to keep it safe. His take:
•Availability of multiple currencies (you can load 16 different currencies in a single card)
• Easy withdrawal
• Online payment facility
• Most of the cards come with a back-up card
• Reward points
• Swiping is absolutely free
• Reloadable (currency can be reloaded even if you fall short of it during your travel)
ON THE MINUS SIDE
• Currency conversion fees
• ATM fees
• You still need physical currencies for some countries because of poor connectivity
• Cross currency charges: 3.5 pc
• ATM withdrawal charges: USD 3 or equivalent in major currencies like USD/ EUR / GBP / AUD. Charges vary for different currencies
• Know Before You Buy
• Be aware of the ATM charges while using a prepaid forex card
• Make sure that the forex card you choose supports the currency that you intend to spend
• Compare the coverage options of different cards before you pick one
“Being a frequent traveller, I find forex cards a blessing. Sometimes it’s really difficult to carry cash, especially on a long tour which involves multiple currencies; there comes the card as a saviour. With so many options, buying a card has become very easy and all it takes is a phone call to the sales executive if you want to reload currency. Forex cards are extremely travelfriendly and a big yes for all avid travellers,” says Riddhi Roy, a passionate traveller and operations manager in a Kolkata based travel company.
“I am a bit sceptical about using forex cards due to the lack of security layer. The magnetic strip of the card can get copied at a desolate ATM or a small store, which may lead to fraud. Following up on the investigation process can be terribly frustrating,” says Gopal Sadani, a travel enthusiast who works for an IT company.