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What you should keep in mind when using your International Debit Card Abroad

If you’re planning on going abroad, or have to make a business trip, it will be required for you to avail an debit card from the bank holding your account for the time that you spend there. Though it is possible to use your domestic debit abroad, when you make a withdrawal at a foreign ATM or make a transaction at a POS terminal, you will be charged a fee that will be astronomical. To avoid this inconvenience of having money unnecessarily being debited from your account, it is advised to avail an international debit card before you set off abroad. Banks across the country offer international debit cards that come with various features and benefits as well as discounts, airport lounge access, offers on various products and most importantly - lost baggage and air travel insurance. While there are number of benefits that come with international debit cards that will lure customers into blindly availing them, one needs to know what the charges or fees of the card are before availing them. In addition, it is important for the customer to know if one can use that particular card in the country they are travelling to and the availability of ATMs and POS terminals that will accept the international debit card that you are availing. Let’s discuss firstly the benefits of an international debit card followed by the points that you need to keep in mind when using an international debit card abroad.

Benefits of using an International Debit Card Abroad

Listed below are some of the benefits of using an international debit card while travelling abroad:

  • Using an international debit card, bank customers can carry out transactions in foreign currencies as well. Before availing the card, ensure that the foreign currency of the country you are travelling is included in the list of currencies you can carry out transactions with. The money in your account will be in Indian rupees but when the customer makes a transaction, the money will be converted to that foreign currency. Depending on the currency exchange rate of the day.
  • Using an international debit card abroad, it would be redundant for the customer to carry physical cash - thereby reducing the chances of the money getting stolen or lost.
  • If by chance the card does get lost or stolen, then the customer can immediately block the card from anywhere on the globe. The card holder can block the card either via his/her internet banking account or by calling the bank’s customer care service.
  • Customers have to enter their PIN (Personal Identification Number) for every transaction online, at an ATM or at a POS terminal. The PIN enhances the security of the card.In addition, most international debit cards come with the EMV chip that offers an additional layer of security when making transactions.
  • When using an international debit card to make a withdrawal at an ATM or POS terminal, the card holder is not charged an additional fee. However, this is the case if the customer uses his/her domestic debit card.
  • As already mentioned, when making a transaction using one’s international debit card, the transaction takes place using the foreign currency, but the money is debited in Indian rupees. This helps customers keep track of the funds in their account.
  • International debit cards come with attractive discounts, offers on a plethora of products, restricted airport lounge access, and will earn reward points for every transaction.
  • Customers holding the international debit card can assign nominees to their account.
  • Possible the most important benefit of an international debit card is that it comes with a personal accident insurance and an air travel insurance coverage. In case of an eventuality, the insurance will kick in.

What to keep in mind when using your International Debit Card abroad

Listed below are some of the factors that card holders need to keep a note of when using their international debit cards to make transactions abroad.

  • Depending on who your card associate is - be it VISA, Mastercard or PLUS - you will be able to use it at any foreign ATM has any of the aforementioned card associate logos.
  • The PIN that you will use to complete a POS terminal transaction or at a withdrawal at an ATM will be the same as what you have set it to be in India.
  • When using a foreign ATM, you will be given the choice of choosing your preferred language to make the withdrawal.
  • Though you will be transacting and making withdrawals in foreign currencies, the money from your account will be debited in Indian rupees - depending on the foreign exchange rate of the day. Make sure that you check the currency rates everyday to know how much you will be spending. That said, with the debits being in Indian currency, one can keep track of the funds in the account easily.
  • Usually, the customer is charged 3.5% as the foreign currency markup fee plus GST. The charges vary between ATM withdrawals, transactions at POS terminals and so on.
  • Usually, card associates charge their customers a currency conversion fee between 1%-2% for the foreign exchange during transactions - which is on the complete transaction amount. Make sure you know exactly what the currency conversion fee is before availing the international debit card.
  • Card providers and associates also place a foreign transaction fee of 2.5%-3.5% of the complete transaction amount as well.
  • When making an ATM withdrawal abroad, customers will be charged the local withdrawal ATM fee as well as a charge between 1%-4% for every withdrawal plus GST. This however depends from bank to bank and the type of debit card the customer chooses as some come with no charges.


  1. Are all foreign currencies available for every type of international debit card?

    All international debit cards come with certain foreign currencies that you can use abroad to make transactions or withdrawals at ATMs. When availing the card, make sure that it can make transactions and withdrawals in the foreign currency of the place you are travelling to.

  2. How do I determine the transaction fee and the exchange rate that my card will come with for every transaction?

    The transaction fee of the particular card that you have availed will be displayed on the bank page. Ensure that you know what the fees and charges are before getting the card. For the exchange rate, you will have to check every single day as it fluctuates as per the global market performance.

  3. Do I have to apply for a certain package to get discounts, offers and insurance on my international debit card?

    No, once you have availed the card, all the insurances coverages are inclusive and part of one the features of the card. In some cases, you just might have to buy the coverages at a nominal cost. Check with the bank with regard to this. The other additional bonuses of the card such as discounts, offers and reward points come along with the card with no additional fee to be on the receiving end of such benefits.

  4. Will I have to pay an exorbitant amount if I have lost my international debit card?

    You do not have to pay for losing your card, but that said, you will have to pay a certain amount for the replacement of the lost debit card. Most international debit cards come with coverages for lost baggage and lost cards, basically an advance to get you out of your sticky situation. Contact the bank to know more.

  5. Do international debit cards come with a withdrawal and spending limit per day?

    Yes, all debit cards - domestic and international - come with a daily spending limit and a bracket on how much you can withdraw from ATMs. If you exceed the amount, you will not be able to make any more transactions for that particular day.

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