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A few months ago, my boss called me to his cabin and gave me the good news – I was being sent to the client’s site for two years. The client was a major American airline and wanted me in their office to keep the booking software in check. I had been working for over two years at TCS and now was my time to shine.

Before I would settle at the client’s office, I had to go for a week-long trip to get myself accustomed to everything. Then, I would come back and make my application for the shift. When I started thinking about the shorter trip, I thought about getting a forex card.

To be honest – I was not that financially well-versed. I thought it would take me a tremendous amount of time and paperwork to get a prepaid forex card. Quite contrary to that, when I visited my bank, they told me it was quite easy once I understood the process.

What is a forex card?

A forex card is a prepaid journey or travel card, primarily used to carry foreign currency and pay for any expenses overseas. You can fill up your card with any foreign currency you want, and use it as a local currency afterward. Through a forex card, you can also withdraw local cash from any ATM. Thus, having a forex card, you need not worry about carrying cash money while traveling abroad. Therefore, it is considered as the safest and accessible way to travel hassle-free.

How does forex card work?

Forex cards are sold by most banks in India. It is highly recommended that you buy the forex card from a reputed financial institution that offers good terms on the card and has a global network. Once you have made an application for the forex card, you can choose a currency and the amount you want to have in that currency in your card. Then, you can give the amount in INR to the bank in India and they will convert it into your desired foreign currency. Your forex card will now have the amount in your desired currency.

The best thing about forex cards is that you don’t have to worry about the exchange rates. The exchange rate applicable here would be the rate prevailing on the date you make the payment to the bank. Most banks will not allow you to recharge your forex card from a foreign location. Hence, it is recommended that you submit paperwork in prior if you believe you might feel the need to recharge your forex card once you are in a foreign location. Here is the step-by-step process.

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What are the benefits of a forex card?

Forex cards come with a number of benefits. It is regarded as a convenient way to carry and pay foreign currency anywhere in the world. Forex cards are also far safer and hassle-free to carry money. You don’t have to worry about taking a stash of cash everywhere you travel, because a forex card is more convenient.

Compared to any other travel debit or credit card, Forex cards are easier to use. As you use it on multiple trips, cashback and rewards tend to increase and be more exciting.

What are the different types of forex cards?

Forex cards come in mainly two variants, single-currency cards, and multi-currency cards. As the name suggests, single-currency cards can hold only a single type of currency at once. It has high cross-currency charges if you use it in any other country. Whereas, multi-currency cards let you store up to 23 currencies and travel wherever you want to go. You also have an option to convert funds from one currency to another if you need a prepaid NetBanking.

There are some particular types, like Student Forex Card, which acts as a medium to pay expenses and as a global student identity card. Some banks also offer forex cards that are exclusive to your journey and destination country.

How to get the forex card:

Choose a bank.

First of all, you should decide on the bank from which you would like to buy the forex card. Mind well, you don’t have to have an account at the bank to get a forex card from them. That said, if you have had a transactional history with the bank, it will only help you with the process of getting the forex card since you would already have a Relationship Manager at the bank.

Make an online or offline application with the right documents.

After you have chosen a bank, all you have to do is make an application. Several banks allow you to make an application from their website. That said, I would personally recommend you to go in person since that will allow you to get your queries solved right there.

Most of the banks will ask for a copy of your passport-sized photo, your passport, PAN card and travel tickets. These will help them verify that you are going outside India for a legitimate purpose.

Decide the amount you will need for the entire trip.

You are supposed to choose this amount right when you are making your application. Since you would not be able to change it for a while, you should put some thought into it. I made my calculation based on simple assumptions for food, accommodation, shopping, travel, sundry expenses and a backup fund. Then, I added 20% to this amount. This was the final amount I decided to fill my forex card with.

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You can visit a travel agent or a visa consultant to understand how much amount you will need for the trip. Most of them will not even charge you to give you this information.

In Conclusion

My trip was as smooth as I could’ve imagined. I will be shifting to the USA in a few months and while I am here, I recommend everyone around me to get a Forex card because the process is really simple and the benefits are immense! Happy journey!

What are the charges for forex cards?

Forex cards come with several hidden charges that you might not be aware of. Once you fill the card with currency, you don’t have to worry about conversion charges. However, you invite a charge while conducting a transaction for balance inquiry or cash withdrawal. Some other charges include Replace card fees, Inactivity fees, and International SMS alert change fees. 

Is a Forex card better than cash?

Carrying a forex card is far more convenient than carrying cash. Plus, when you travel abroad, there is no need to get into the hassle of exchanging money every time you run out of cash. It is a perfect cross-country travel companion due to which you need not carry a huge stash of cash everywhere we go. Forex cards can do all this, but far with far more ease.

How to check forex card balance

You can check your forex card balance through any ATM available near you, with some minimal charges. Some banks even offer online banking features through which you can check your available balance through the official mobile or web application via an active internet connection. You can also insert funds through the official app.

Which bank offers the best forex rates?

Many banks offer excellent forex rates, but ICICI stands out from the rest, as it provides the best forex rates with E-transfer, as low as $2 on transactions less than $1000 and $0 on any transaction above $1000. HDFC Bank also has somewhat similar rates with 0.12% on Rs.1 lakh

Which is the best forex card?

Choosing the best forex card is entirely subjective. You should go for a card that satisfies your requirements and preferences. Overall, Axis Bank’s multi-currency travel card and ICICI Bank travel card are considered superior because of the features they provide and their excellent rewarding system. HDFC Regalia Forexplus is also a great option due to their excellent online service.

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