What are travel/ forex cards?
These are pre-paid cards. You get a card issued for a denomination of your choice, depending on the amount you intend to spend on your foreign trip. Most banks offer cards in US dollars, eurosand Great Britain pounds, while some additionally offer Japanese yens, Australian dollars and Canadian dollars. Separate cards are issued for separate currencies.You pay in Indian rupees.
Where do I get one of these cards?
Axis Bank, State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Citibank and many banks offer such cards, albeit at select branches.Some money changers also offer these cards.
What are the documents needed?
One has to provide a copy of a valid passport, a form called A2 depending on your eligibility to travel (student, individual, business traveller, etc), PAN card or Form 60 and a cheque for the amount to be loaded on the card.
What is the currency conversion rate applicable?
The rupees that you offer for conversion are loaded on to the card depending on the rate offered by the bank or money changer on the day of purchase of card. The rate charged is that applicable for traveller’s cheques in most instances.
Is there a limit on value I can load?
There are restrictions with regard to the minimum and maximum limits. Check the bank’s minimum currency loading on the card, as it ranges between 200 dollar/ euro/ pound to 600 dollar/ euro/ pound. If you are not going to need the higher limit you can opt for banks that offer a lower minimum amount of issue. In a year, an individual can get cards issued up to $10,000 and its currency equivalents elsewhere.
Is cash withdrawal at ATMs permitted?
There is a limit to the amount you can withdraw on a single day depending on the card issuer. There is also a charge of 1.5-2 dollar/ euro/ pound etc for cash withdrawal from ATMs.
Can I use a US card in Europe?
Euros cannot be loaded on a dollar card. However, you can take a card in one currency and use it elsewhere, irrespective of the currency of the country. The card can be swiped at outlets or used at an ATM and the payment or withdrawal would be in the local currency.
Banks charge a conversion rate for the new country currency. For instance, if you use a Japanese yen card in USA, the conversion for yen to dollar would be applicable.
Is there a charge for checking the balance abroad?
Usually, checking the card balance at ATMs would cost you 0.5 dollar/ euro/ pound, besides service tax. However, there is no charge for checking the same on the internet.
How do I refill the card abroad?
Refilling can be done only at select bank branches or money changer outlets. Since you would be travelling and cannot come back to bank, you can either nominate a person to refill on your behalf or leave a signed form along with a set of documents you submitted to purchase the card. The designated person can go to the bank branch or money changer and refill your card as desired.
What are the charges applicable?
There are charges for issuing a card, reloading a card and in case the card or PIN is lost, issuance of replacement card and PIN charges additionally.
Can I get a replacement in case of card loss?
Some card issuers even offer a replacement card, which can be used the first time you lose a card abroad. If the replacement card too is lost, upon request, a new card is sent within 48 hours in certain countries, while PIN is sent to your mailing address.
How do these cards compare with credit/ debit cards?
Given all those charges, you could well consider using the international debit or credit card for which you are already paying an annual fee. The only difference in prepaid travel or forex cards is that you get the conversion rate of the day you purchase or load the card, while in credit or debit card, the currency would be converted on the day you made the purchase. Also, most travel or forex cards come with an insurance cover, which provides a personal accident policy, besides a cover for loss of baggage or passport, flight delay or miss.
What to do with the card when I return?
As per the Reserve Bank of India, one can hold only up to $2,000 post travel. So, beyond 90 days of returning to the country, you would have to claim a refund from your card issuer or transfer the money to a domestic foreign currency account.
In case you need the card in future and want to avoid misuse during the gestation period, you could block the card temporarily via internet or by phone call. If you are not going to use it in future or need the money back, you can claim a refund by visiting the bank branch. Here, too, the conversion fee for the day you ask for a refund would be applicable