Summary :- When embarking on an international trip, it is essential to plan ahead and consider the best way to carry foreign currency. In this blog, we will explore the most cost-effective and secure methods for carrying foreign currency for your trip abroad.
When it comes to planning an international trip, there are numerous crucial aspects to consider. One such aspect that requires careful thought and consideration is how to carry foreign currency. Having a reliable and convenient method of carrying foreign currency is essential to ensure a smooth experience while traveling abroad. Additionally, it is equally important to choose a method that offers potential savings.
In this blog, we will delve into the different ways to carry foreign currency for your international trip, providing you with valuable insights to make an informed decision.
Currency notes are the traditional and most straightforward method of carrying foreign currency. It offers immediate access to local currency, ensuring convenience in situations where cards may not be accepted. However, it is not recommended to carry a significant amount of cash at once due to the potential difficulties associated with managing it and the inherent risk of theft. Nonetheless, it is still essential to have some cash for smaller expenses like a cab fare or a quick meal.
- Accepted everywhere
- Best for smaller expenses
- No fixed exchange rate
- Safety/theft issues
2. Global INR Cards
The Global INR cards are loaded with Indian rupees and can be used to carry money abroad. The cards are similar to any other international credit or debit card provided by banks, however, these cards claim to have zero markup rates, which can be quite misleading. A quick comparison of the rates on Google and the visa rates on this card will show the additional difference one can expect to pay when using this card. The INR travel cards also require customers to open a bank account with the partner bank.
- Chip & PIN secured
- Global Acceptance
- Access to airport lounges across India
- Contactless payments (Simply tap to pay)
- Account opening required
- Open to rate fluctuations
- Hefty conversion charges
- High ATM withdrawal fees
- Lengthy documentation process
3. Forex Cards
Forex cards, also known as prepaid travel cards, have gained popularity among international travelers due to their numerous advantages. These cards allow you to load multiple currencies onto a single card, eliminating the hassle of carrying multiple cards. Forex cards offer the best exchange rates and lower fees compared to credit/debit/INR cards. They also provide enhanced security features, including PIN protection and the ability to lock the card if lost or stolen.
- Zero markup forex rates
- No rate fluctuations once the card is loaded
- Zero issuance/reload/unload/annual fees
- No account opening required
- Hassle-free booking process
- Quick delivery (usually same-day)
- Easy spend management via BMF app
- Complimentary travel insurance
- Available only in 15-20 foreign currencies
- Expensive if used in a currency that is not loaded on the card
Why Forex Card is Better Than Global INR Cards?
Out of the three options discussed above, cash/currency notes are considered the traditional way of carrying money while traveling abroad. It is advisable to carry cash in smaller amounts along with your travel card, as it can be helpful in situations where card payments are not accepted. Having cash in smaller denominations can ensure that you can make small purchases easily like a quick meal or cab fare.
Now, let’s move on to discuss two other card payment options: Forex cards and global INR cards. Both of them are popular methods of carrying money while traveling abroad. Which is the better option? Let’s find out!
1. Zero Markup Forex Rates
While these INR cards do claim to charge 0 forex markup, their base rates, however, are the underlying Visa rates. This, however, can be a little misleading as Visa rates themselves are marked up a little over the interbank rates (the transparent rates seen on Google).
What really sets apart forex cards is that one can load foreign currency on these cards at the exact interbank rates, which means that a forex card is a true zero markup card.
2. Exchange Rate fluctuations
In the case of Global INR cards, they do not offer protection against volatility as the currency rates are unclear. When you use this card internationally, the conversion happens at the rate prevalent at the time the transaction is executed.
A Forex card does not carry such a risk. They come preloaded with the currency of the destination country & the exchange rate gets immediately locked in, thus protecting you from rate fluctuations.
3. Card Issuance Ease
A Forex Card can be activated within 4-5 business hours as it is an instant prepaid instrument designed specifically for foreign travel. Only basic travel documents are required to get a Forex card.
Global INR card can only be obtained after opening a new account with a bank. The bank would require you to complete a KYC verification process. It may also take up to 15 days to receive the actual physical card from the time of KYC verification.
4. Management of Expenses
A Forex card comes loaded with the local currency of the country where it is used. Thus, you have complete control over each transaction and your overall spending.
In the case of Global INR Cards, because the currency in INR is being spent overseas, it will take a lot more effort to determine whether the actual conversion rate was good, bad, or very bad.
5. Theft or Loss of a card
In most cases, forex cards come with a backup card evidently within the same kit or can be opted for while buying a new card. In case you lose a card abroad, requests can easily be placed via calls & emails and replacement cards can reach you abroad within 5-10 working days.
Replacement of a Global INR Card can be a hassle with a lot of back and forth, and there is room for improvement.
6. ATM withdrawal fee
When you withdraw money from an ATM using an INR card in a foreign country, you may be subject to a withdrawal fee of up to Rs 450+GST.
ATM withdrawals through Forex cards are also subject to a cash withdrawal fee, which is typically 2$ or eqv. per transaction but it is much lower than what is being charged on a INR card.
|Multi-Currency Forex Card||Global INR Card
|Card pre-funded in destination Currency||Cards funded in Rupees (INR)
|All spends in destination Currencies||All spends in INR
|No Calculations: You got the best rates linked to live interbank rates!!||Always calculating and doing the mental math: 2 to 5% extra charges
|No rate fluctuations ||The haunting effects of rate fluctuations
|No Account Opening Required: just book it online and get same-day delivery||Account opening with partner bank and lengthy documentation process
Final Verdict – What is the best way to carry currency while traveling abroad?
When it comes to carrying currency abroad, a Forex card presents a secure, convenient, and cost-effective solution. With enhanced safety features, easy accessibility, and the ability to lock in favorable exchange rates, a Forex card is undoubtedly the best way to carry money while traveling. It is accepted everywhere such as in stores, ATMs, restaurants/hotels, and e-commerce websites worldwide.
In some remote areas or smaller establishments, it may however be difficult to find places that accept card payments. So, it is recommended to carry both currency notes and a forex card in a particular ratio. The ratio depends on the destination country. Say you’re traveling to the US or Europe, which are cashless countries. Carry 90% of your travel money on the card, but keep 10% in cash for small ticket purchases such as train tickets, taxi fares, or a quick meal. For countries like Vietnam or Indonesia, cash may be required in a greater proportion, e.g., 30-40 percent, since card payments are less common.
Based on the reasons outlined above in the blog, it is recommended to stay away from Global INR cards when traveling abroad and rather opt for a Forex card. If you’re going overseas, make sure you buy a forex card from BookMyForex, A MakeMyTrip group company, and India’s most trusted online forex platform.