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  • With globalisation becoming the flavour of the day and the relative ease of transport in today’s world, travelling has become the norm for many individuals. Whether for business or leisure, travelling overseas is no longer an arduous journey fraught with peril. And while travel has caught up with convenience and technology, so has the way to pay when you’re off on your sojourn.

    What is a Forex Card?

    Forex cards are slowly becoming the norm instead of the exception when individuals travel abroad nowadays. A forex card is a foreign exchange prepaid credit card that can be used overseas and can be loaded with multiple currencies. A forex card is considered the successor to travel currency cards which allowed for a single foreign currency to be preloaded on the card.

    Forex cards function like credit cards, with the only exception being that money is being debited from the card each time a transaction is made. Most forex cards available today allow for the loading of multiple currencies (this could differ based on the issuing bank and the type of card being availed) and provide the safety that comes with using plastic money.

    Types Of Forex Cards

    Forex cards are a safe solution to carrying around cash or incurring heavy charges when using a credit or debit card while abroad. In order to suit the needs of every type of traveller, there are various types of forex cards offered.

    The Two Main Classifications Of The Types Of Forex Cards Available Are Mentioned Below:

    • Single currency forex card- As the name suggests, the single currency forex card can be preloaded with one particular currency. The card can be reloaded as and when required.
    • Multi-currency forex card- This card can be preloaded with multiple currencies, depending on the card chosen. Banks, financial institutions and travel agencies often have a choice of cards that applicants can choose from based on the currencies that can be loaded on the cards.

    In addition to this, card issuers also have forex cards that are offered to privileged banking customers or that are by invite-only. These cards generally have lower fees and charges or additional perks and privileges.

    Features Of A Forex Card

    Forex cards come loaded with a host of features and benefits, which are listed below:

    • They are a safe and secure way to make payments overseas as they have all the security features that come along with a credit card.
    • Since they are pre-loaded, it is easier to rein in spending when abroad since the cardholder can decide on a budget and top-up the card if and when required.
    • The ease of use and wide acceptance also make it easier for cardholders, since they need not worry about the hassle of finding an ATM or alternate payment method.
    • They eliminate the need to carry currency around, making them a safer and more convenient option compared to cash or travellers cheques.
    • Cardholders are protected from fluctuations in currency values. The currency amount loaded into the card is based on that day’s exchange rate, ensuring there is no potential loss as a result of changing money from day-to-day.
    • They are a cheaper alternative to credit or debit cards. A debit or credit card requires the cardholder to pay a currency conversion charge each time the card is used. This is due to the fact that the card issues payments in Indian Rupees, which then has to be converted into the currency of the country the cardholder is in. This conversion charge, called a cross currency mark-up is between 2-5%, depending on the type of card and the issuing bank.
    • They are a cheaper alternative to buying currency when travelling, since exchange bureaus and banks will charge a fee for converting currency. The exchange rate will also fluctuate, which could result in a loss after all fees and charges have been paid.

    Benefits Of A Forex Card

    Forex cards have a number of features that make them an attractive alternative to the traditional payments methods when overseas. In addition to these, forex cards also offer benefits such as the ones mentioned below:

    • Forex cards are a cheaper alternative to exchanging currency, especially at banks. It is cheaper for banks to issue forex cards, with the result that applicants will receive a better conversion rate.
    • Most banks do not need applicants to have an existing relationship with the bank in the form of a bank account or fixed deposit. Thus, applicants can choose from a wide range of available cards based on their needs.
    • Since forex cards come with all the safety features of a credit or debit card, they are safer than carrying around wads of cash. The chip and pin technology that secures other plastic money is also used in these cards.
    • In the event of theft or loss of the card, it can be hotlisted by contacting the issuing bank/financial institution and the balance in the card will be frozen.
    • There are no charges when the forex card is swiped at PoS terminals abroad, while debit and credit cards will be charged a small fee each time.
    • Forex cards provide ease of use as they are universally accepted and recognised. Some of them can also be used to pay for online purchases made abroad.
    • The balance on the card can be encashed when the cardholder returns at current exchange rates.
    • Some card issuers also allow for the card to be temporarily blocked and then reactivated when the cardholder goes abroad again. In this way, there are no additional charges such as maintenance charges or penalties for lack of use.
    • Queries or assistance is available round the clock with dedicated helplines and online tracking in case of a query or related issue.
    • A number of card issuers also offer deals and discounts when the forex card is used, incentivising their use.

    Benefits Of Using A Forex Credit Card For Foreign Travel

    Whether you visit a foreign location once in a while or quite frequently, carrying cash is one of the important aspects. As one country’s currency is not valid in another, we cannot carry cash in Indian currency. Similarly, not all the debit cards or credit cards are allowed for use in other countries. We can neither pre-book each and every aspect of our travel. Hence, we certainly need a way to carry money to foreign locations.

    Conventional ways of carrying money to other countries include carrying cash exchanged in the country’s currency or carrying traveller’s cheques. However, both have their own security concerns. What if you lose your money or the cheques you’re carrying? In a country where everyone else is strangers other than your companions, you can’t even ask for help.

    Forex credit cards have evolved as a safe and convenient method to carry foreign exchange. Forex cards are prepaid credit cards which can be loaded with currencies of one or more countries thus offer travellers the convenience to use the card just like a debit or credit card.

    Travellers can purchase the card well in advance to their journey, recharge it with a money equivalent to $10,000 to $25,000 based on the trip type. Compared to traditional options, forex cards provide multiple benefits in a single card. Listed below are all such benefits, one can avail by using a forex credit card in a foreign land.

    Advantages of Using Forex Cards During Foreign Travel

    • Load multiple currencies: The cards can be loaded with single as well as multiple currencies. Imagine you’re visiting two different countries in a single trip, then you should ideally purchase a multi-currency forex card that allows you to load the card in different currencies. You can thus avoid the hassle of carrying two different cards for two countries.
    • Enjoy locked-in exchange rates: Most of the forex cards offer locked-in exchange rate feature which protects the cardholder from fluctuating currency rates. Irrespective of the dollar rate on a given day, your money in the card remains the same.
    • No currency exchange hassles: Carrying a forex card, frees you from the hassle of exchanging currency is foreign locations. With a pre-loaded forex card, you don’t have to search for a money exchange outlet in a foreign location. Further, loading currency in a forex card is much cheaper compared to buying foreign currency as cash.
    • Shop without limit: Forex cards can also be used at most of the merchant outlets located across the globe. You can also shop on international sites using the card just like how you do with your normal credit card or debit card. There won’t be any extra charge for all such point-of-sale or online transactions.
    • Cash withdrawal from any ATM: You can also withdraw the loaded amount in your forex card from any international ATM. The card will automatically detect the country you are in and dispense cash in local currency. However, users will be charged with a flat ATM withdrawal fee per transaction.
    • Safe and secure: Most forex cards come with an embedded chip technology which is more secure than the magnetic strip technology, typically used on regular debit cards and credit cards. The chip stores confidential information in encrypted form hence provides enhanced security against counterfeiting and skimming credit card frauds.

    Well, these are a few benefits of using forex credit card while travelling abroad compared to other conventional methods. Forex cards are available as over-the-counter products at any of the bank branches and can be purchased 30 days in advance to your travel. However, issuance of the card is subject to the submission of appropriate travel documents as required by the bank. The cards are valid for 3-5 years and can be recharged whenever necessary using your online banking accounts.

    How Does A Forex Card Work?

    Forex cards are the future of overseas transactions due to their safety, convenience as well as their universal acceptance. Forex cards, as mentioned above, work exactly like debit and credit cards.

    When applying for a forex card, it is advisable to look up the various cards offered by banks and other institutions. Choose between a single currency card (if the trip is to a particular region or country) and a multi-currency card. Multi-currency cards can be loaded with up to 16 different currencies.

    Once the applicant has submitted all the paperwork and received the forex card with the PIN, he/she should change the assigned PIN and check the card balance at an ATM of the issuing bank/financial institution. Alternatively, cardholders can check the balance using internet banking if the issuing bank has this facility.

    The forex card can then be used at merchant establishments overseas by simply swiping/dipping the card (based on the type of card availed). Since the card is preloaded, the balance will reflect the payments charged to the card instantly.

    Cardholders can keep track of their balance and transactions through methods such as SMS alerts or notifications from the issuing bank/financial institution.

    How To Use A Forex Card

    When abroad, a forex card can be used at ATMs to withdraw cash or for balance enquiries, statement requests and other such facilities.

    When using a forex card at an ATM, the type of card to be selected for the transaction is ‘credit card’.

    A forex card can be used like a credit card for payments at merchant outlets overseas. Depending on the type of card, it can be dipped/swiped at a PoS terminal and the amount charged would be instantly deducted at source.

    How To Apply For A Forex Card

    With the host of benefits and features that it offers, a forex card is the ideal solution for those travelling abroad and looking for a safe and secure payment method. Applying for a forex card is a quick and easy process, with a number of banks and financial institutions, as well as large travel agencies offering these cards.

    At the outset, choose the type of forex card and look at options offered by various issuers. Depending on the time of year, banks offers deals and discounts on forex cards, so it would be beneficial if you as an applicant looked at all options.

    Following this, you can visit a bank branch or apply online for a card of your choice. Most banks and financial institutions offer different cards depending on the type of perks and benefits that can be availed.

    After selecting the card you wish to apply for, you can either visit a bank branch with the required documentation or you could apply online if the facility is provided.

    Documents Required For Forex Card

    When applying for a forex card from a bank, financial institution or travel agency, there are some criteria that have to be met before the card is issued. There are also certain documents that have to be submitted. While documentation may differ based on the card issuer,

    The Basic Documents Required Are As Follows:

    • Application form.
    • Copy of passport (self-attested).
    • Copy of visa (visas if the trip involves multiple countries).
    • Airline ticket copy.
    • PAN card.

    Based on the card issuer and type of forex card being applied for, there could be other documents that need to be furnished. This would depend on the amount being loaded onto the card as well as in case any regulatory changes are made.

    Fees And Charges For A Forex Card

    Applying for a forex card is a quick and hassle-free process, from the application process itself to the documents and fees. Fees and charges would depend on the card issuer, as well as the type of forex card selected. Multi-currency cards and those with additional benefits are likely to have higher fees associated with them.

    There Are Various Types Of Fees And Charges Associated With A Forex Card, Which Have Been Briefly Explained Below:

    Forex Card Fees: These fees are levied for expenses related to the physical forex card and are as follows:

    Forex Card particulars  
    Initial fee This is the amount that is to be paid when applying for the card.
    Reload/Renewal fee This amount is to be paid each time the card is reloaded with currency or renewed (in case of inactive cards).
    Add-on card fee If applicable, this fee is levied on an additional card that is provided.
    Encashment charges This fee is levied when the balance amount on the card is encashed.

    Forex Card ATM Fees: These are fees chargeable when the forex card is used at ATMs and are as follows:

    Forex Card ATM particulars  
    Cash withdrawal This fee is levied on each cash withdrawal made while abroad
    Balance enquiry This fee is levied each time a request for the card’s updated balance is made.
    Cross currency charge In the event the currency on the card does not match the transaction currency, this fee will be levied at the time of making the transaction.
    Replacement card fee This fee is levied if a replacement card is to be issued to the cardholder.

    Quick Do’s And Don’ts When Using A Forex Card

    A forex card is a boon for those looking for a convenient and safe way to make payments when overseas. While forex cards are safe to use and have a number of benefits, there are also some points applicants should keep in mind when using a forex card.

    A Quick List Of Tips Is Provided Below:

    • DO check the balance on the forex card after each transaction is made. Most card issuers provide alerts in the form of SMS or email or through online banking.
    • DO take a back-up card in the event the forex card is lost/stolen or malfunctions. While some card issuers provide a supplementary card, this is usually chargeable but is a good contingency.
    • DO change the PIN at a local ATM before leaving for the trip.
    • DO check the expiry date mentioned on the card. Depending on the type of card, it could expire at the end of the month or could be blocked temporarily and activated at a later date.
    • DO NOT use a forex card to pre-hire a room or pay for a deposit for a rental house/car/room when abroad. Doing this effectively freezes funds on the card till the bill has been cleared. As a result, it is advisable to use a regular credit or debit card to pay for a security deposit.
    • DO NOT use the forex card to pay in currency other than the one loaded on the card. This could result in additional conversion charges being levied in the process of conversion, which could differ from the rates the cardholder paid when loading the card.
    • DO NOT use the forex card to pay toll at toll booths when abroad as the prepaid card will not work at such places. It is advised to either use cash or make alternate payment arrangements in such cases.

    FAQ’s of Forex Card

    1. What is the minimum amount that I can load on my forex card?

      The minimum amount that can be loaded on a forex card would depend on the card issuer and the type of card selected.

    2. How do I withdraw money from my forex card when abroad?

      When abroad, you can withdraw money from your forex card by simply visiting an ATM and choosing ‘credit card’ as the type of card. Follow the instructions on the screen in order to make your withdrawal from the card.

    3. What is a multi-currency forex card?

      A multi-currency forex card is a type of forex card on which multiple currencies can be loaded. These forex cards can have up to 16 currencies at a time.

    4. Can I reload my forex card when overseas?

      No, most forex card issuers do not allow you to top up the card when overseas. Instead, you can authorise an individual to top it up on your behalf.

    5. How many days prior to my trip can I buy the forex card?

      Subject to meeting the requirements for the forex card, you can apply up to 60 days prior to your trip.

    6. What do I do if I lose my forex card while overseas?

      If you lose or misplace your forex card, you can contact the card issuer on toll-free helplines and request that the card be blocked. It is advisable to report the theft or loss of card as soon as you realise it is missing.

    7. Can I change the foreign currency loaded onto the card back into Indian currency after I return from my trip?

      Yes, it is possible to re-convert the foreign currency on the card into Indian currency once you have returned by visiting a branch/office of the card issuer.

    8. Will my forex card come with insurance cover?

      Yes, most forex cards come with insurance cover. However, it is advisable to check with the card issuer prior to applying.

    9. How do I cancel my forex card?

      You can cancel your forex card by contacting the card issuer and submitting a request for card cancellation.

    10. Is there a transaction fee each time I use my forex card?

      No, there is no transaction fee levied each time you use your forex card for purchases abroad, provided they are made in the currency preloaded on the card.

    Know More About Forex Card

      

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