International travel is no more an exclusive affair as more and more Indians are traveling abroad for business and leisure, apart from the usual education and medical treatment needs. An International traveler is confronted with substantial multifarious expenses, and there is no better option than to carry plastic money instead of currency notes.
It is true for the simple fact that most popular foreign destinations seek plastic money for financial transactions and, use of currency notes turn-out be dear on the pocket with a levy of variable cross-currency conversion rates.
On top of this, carrying wads of cash in foreign currency is fraught with risk, if not outright unsafe. The best option open to the traveler in this scenario is to buy Forex cards loaded with smart features to suit individual preferences.
Your best bet would be a Forex Card that is safe and convenient, with no hidden charges, and that can exchange currency for free.
As a start, it is sensible for the international traveler to consider the following 5 things to watch out for before buying a Forex card.
- Evaluate the available options:
Every International traveler is faced with a dilemma about the quantum of foreign currency to carry before embarking on their journey. A lot depends on the travel plans depending on the travel confined to a single country or multiple destinations in different countries. Among the various modes of payment, cash is not the only choice, but there are options of Traveler’sCheque, International Credit and Debit Cards, and finally prepaid Forex travel cards. The last option is by far the best choice for its element of flexibility, safety and the overall cost involved. One can purchase either a single currency or multi-currency Forex card.
2. Get the card well in time:
International travel requires meticulous planning. Instead of a last-minute rush to ensure adequate finances, it is always advised to secure it well before the date of travel. Usually, the issuers take a couple of business working days after application to issue the card. Then the card is required to be activated, needing an additional time of 24 hours or more. Ideally, the card should cater for 80% of the total envisaged expenses abroad and the rest 20% in foreign currency cash. Any disruption in card delivery prior to departure can jeopardize all the travel plans. In addition, one must counter check and confirm the following before buying a suitable travel card well ahead of the trip:
- Daily spend limit
- Safety features of the card
- Global acceptance
- Chip and PIN protection
- Provision for emergency cash support in major international cities in case of loss or theft of the card.
- Ensured notifications for card usage through email or SMS.
- Issuance charges, reloading and unloading charges.
3. Compare the charges:
The payment experience abroad depends on the nature of spends and withdrawal of cash from the ATMs. Plastic money in the form of International Debit or Credit cards is subject to various charges levied on its usage, which includes Forex conversion rates. It may dent the pocket substantially over a period of time. A prepaidForex card on the other hand is immune to Forex market fluctuations, as the applied rate is fixed at the date of purchase. Thus it is essential to check on the following indicative charges before a card is chosen.
- Cash withdrawal charge.
- Balance inquiry charge.
- Periodic international SMS alert charge.
- Replacement card fee is both domestic and international.
- Statement request charge.
- Charge-slip retrieval charge.
- Cross currency mark-up charge.
- Inactivity charge.
4. Insurance cover:
The Forex card has emerged as a valuable travel accessory when abroad. The annual Forex spend permitted under the Liberalized Remittance Scheme (LRS) of RBI for an individual is equivalent to 2, 50,000 USDa year, which in terms of INR is substantial. While the card is the safest way to ensure a smooth payment experience, it is essential that there is an insurance cover as a safeguard from its misuse. There are various types of insurance cover dependent on the issuer. However, as a measure of abundant caution, one must check if the coverage is adequate against loss, theft, or fraudulent use. Check whether the insurance covers ATM assault, robbery, and expenses incurred towards medical treatment for such incidents. It is always reassuring to know that plastic money is well protected from untoward events.
5. Where to buy?
While there are multiple options for purchasing a Forex travel card, it is vitally essential for the traveler to weigh the pros and cons before homing on a card that truly fits the bill. It is thus incumbent upon the traveler to make a meticulous study and market research before arriving at an informed decision. A suitable card can be bought from the traditional Banks or Authorized dealers and, additionally, there is now the choice of e-commerce Forex marketplace to source the card online with multiple advantages tabulated below:
- Choice of multiple branded cards including new age contactless cards.
- Minimal documentation.
- Waiver of fees and charges.
- Doorstep delivery of purchased cards within 24 to 48 hours. .
- Round the clock support.
- Withdraw thrice per month for free from the ATM.
- Safe and secure at all times.
- Online reload from anywhere.
- Best exchange rates due to live quotes.
- Unload if not required on return.
- Emergency cash if the card is lost.
- Free card replacement in the event of loss.
The best option for monetary needs when traveling abroad is the prepaid Forex card. However, instead of putting all the eggs in a single basket, it is smart to carry some hard cash in the local foreign currency in places of travel. Travelcard is a better cost-effective option than other modes of payments with adequate in-built safety measures to ensure a seamless payment experience during international travel.
With multiple options at hand, it is wise to make an in-depth study prior to choosing the right card in harmony with the travel plans. It also makes sense to visualize the full picture before travel to buy a card loaded with suitable currencies to ensure a memorable travel experience. Cost is an important factor in whatever is chosen. Exploring the options well in advance is a sure way to keep it under control, lest it plays a spoilsport in international travel.