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You might be a frequent international traveler or someone fond of shopping from international websites; in either of the scenarios, transactions in foreign currency have to be done, and as you know, almost all credit cards charge a markup fee on foreign currency transactions. The general market standard for mark-up fee is 3.5% of the transaction amount.

However, some credit cards offer a lower foreign currency mark-up fee so that users are able to transact in a foreign currency without worrying much about any overhead charges. Usually, these cards are either travel credit cards or top-end premium cards. For example, the forex mark-up fee applicable for HDFC Infinia Credit Card is just 2% of the transaction amount (instead of the usual 3.5%). Then there are other credit cards that, although they charge the same mark-up fee on foreign currency transactions, compensate for the same by offering a higher reward rate on transactions made in foreign currencies.

Best-Credit-Cards-for-International-Travel

In this article, we have hand-picked significant credit cards in the Indian Credit Card market, which can be used to make transactions in a foreign currency when you are traveling abroad. These cards offer either a considerably lower foreign currency markup fee or a better reward rate on foreign currency transactions. Most of these credit cards are either super-premium credit cards or premium travel credit cards.

Table of Contents

List of Best Credit Cards for International Travel 2024

If you have ever read your credit card’s most important terms and conditions, you might be aware of the fact that these cards have high fees & charges on international transactions, including forex markup fees, currency conversion charges, etc. All these charges make international transactions very expensive. Still, some major card issuers also offer credit cards with low forex markup fees or higher reward rates on international purchases, and these cards are considered the most suitable ones for transactions in other currencies when you visit foreign countries.

Continue reading for the complete list of best credit cards for international travel and their detailed features:

HDFC Bank Regalia Gold Credit Card

(4.5/5)

Fees

Joining Fee

Rs. 2,500 + GST

Renewal Fee

Rs. 2,500 + GST

Best Suited For

Shopping

Reward Type

Reward Points

International Lounge Access

6 complimentary international lounge access

HDFC Regalia Gold Credit Card is a lifestyle credit card by HDFC Bank. You’re charged a markup fee of 2% (exclusive of GST) of the transaction amount on all foreign currency spends made with the HDFC Regalia Gold Credit Card. The net gain on international transactions made with HDFC Regalia Gold Credit Card can be calculated as follows.

Foreign Currency Markup (exclusive of GST) 2%
Foreign Currency Markup (including GST) 2.36%
Reward Rate on International Spends 1.33%
Net Reward -1.03%

Thus, effectively, you pay a markup fee of 1.03% of the transacted amount, which is in a currency other than Indian Rupee.

ixigo AU Credit Card

(4.4/5)

Fees

Joining Fee

Nil

Renewal Fee

Nil

Best Suited For

Travel

Reward Type

Reward Points

International Lounge Access

1 Per Year, Priority Pass to be Issued on Request

The ixigo AU Bank Credit Card is a lifetime free credit card offered by AU Small Finance Bank. This card is perfect for travelers. Domestic and international airport lounge access, along with railway lounge access, are provided with this card. What’s the best feature of this card? This card has Zero Forex Charges associated with it.

Axis Bank Atlas Credit Card

(4.5/5)

Fees

Joining Fee

Rs. 5,000 + GST

Renewal Fee

Rs. 5,000 + GST

Best Suited For

Travel

Reward Type

Reward Points

International Lounge Access

4 per annum under Silver Tier, 6 per annum under Gold Tier and 12 per annum under Platinum Tier

The Axis Bank Atlas Credit Card is designed for frequent air travelers and falls under the sub-premium travel category. Unlike other travel cards offered by Axis Bank, it is a generic card issued by the bank itself, not a co-branded one. The card comes with a joining fee of Rs. 5,000 and offers various travel perks like airport lounge access, dining benefits, and exclusive air miles. You will earn Edge Miles for every purchase made with the card, which can be redeemed for Air Miles of partner airlines’ flyer programs or for booking flights/hotels via the bank’s Travel Edge portal.

Although international airport lounge access is offered with the card it charges a 3.5% Forex fee.

Yes Bank Marquee Credit Card

(4.6/5)

Fees

Joining Fee

Rs. 9,999 + GST

Renewal Fee

Rs. 4,999 + GST

Best Suited For

Movies

Reward Type

Reward Points

International Lounge Access

Unlimited Lounge Access for Primary & Add-On Cardholders

The Marquee Credit Card is the best premium card offered by Yes Bank. This card offers a range of attractive features and benefits, including unlimited access to airport lounges, buy-one-get-one-free offers on movie tickets, discounts on food, and accelerated Reward Points.

Foreign Currency Markup – 1% of the Transaction Amount

IndusInd-Legend-Credit-Card

(4.5/5)

Fees

Joining Fee

Nil

Renewal Fee

Nil

Best Suited For

Travel

Reward Type

Reward Points

International Lounge Access

N/A

The Legend Credit Card by IndusInd Bank is a high-end credit card by the IndusInd Bank. The card is quite suitable for shopping and travel spends. As far as foreign currency transactions are concerned, you are charged a mark-up fee of 1.8% (exclusive of taxes) of the transacted amount. You may refer to the table below for the net gain/loss that you have incurred on the international transactions (in foreign currency) completed with the IndusInd Bank Legend Credit Card.

Foreign Currency Markup (exclusive of GST) 1.8%
Foreign Currency Markup (including GST) 2.12%
Reward Rate on International Spends 2%
Net Reward -0.12%

As you can see, you pay 0.12% of the transaction amount as a mark-up fee on foreign currency transactions. You also get complimentary lounge access at international airports across the world and an air travel accident cover worth Rs. 25 lakh with the IndusInd Bank Legend Credit Card.

IDFC FIRST Select Credit Card

(4.6/5)

Fees

Joining Fee

Nil

Renewal Fee

Nil

Best Suited For

Travel

Reward Type

Reward Points

International Lounge Access

NA

Select Credit Card by IDFC FIRST Bank is a mid-level offering by the bank. It is a lifetime free credit card and offers a decent reward rate and other additional benefits. As far as the foreign currency mark-up fee is concerned, you are charged 1.99% of the transaction amount as a mark-up fee on every foreign transaction you make.

The net effective foreign currency mark-up fee of the IDFC FIRST Select credit can be calculated under

Foreign Currency Markup (exclusive of GST) 1.99%
Foreign Currency Markup (including GST) 2.36%
Reward Rate on International Spends 2.50%
Net Reward 0.14%
RBL World Safari Credit Card

(4.3/5)

Fees

Joining Fee

Rs. 3,000 + GST

Renewal Fee

Rs. 3,000 + GST

Best Suited For

Travel

Reward Type

Reward Points

International Lounge Access

2 complimentary international lounge visits every year using Priority Pass membership.

A travel credit card by RBL Bank, the World Safari Credit Card offers an attractive feature, which is its zero foreign currency mark-up fee. It is the only credit card in India that does not charge any mark-up fee on transactions made in a foreign currency. However, the downside is that you also don’t earn any reward points on international transactions made with the RBL World Safari Credit Card. Therefore, there is no profit/loss (in terms of reward rate) on foreign currency transactions made with the RBL Bank World Safari Credit Card.

Foreign Currency Markup (Including GST) 0%
Reward Rate on International Spends 0%
Net Reward 0%
SBI ELITE Credit Card

(4.5/5)

Fees

Joining Fee

Rs. 4,999 + GST

Renewal Fee

Rs. 4,999 + GST

Best Suited For

Movies

Reward Type

Reward Points

International Lounge Access

6 complimentary visits to international airport lounges per year (max 2 per quarter) with the Priority Pass program.

It is the most premium credit card by SBI Cards, catering to the needs of the bank’s high-net-worth customers. As foreign currency mark-up, the cardholders will be charged an amount equivalent to 1.99% of the amount transacted. The net benefit on foreign currency transactions made with the SBI ELITE Credit Card is summarised under

Foreign Currency Markup (exclusive of GST) 1.99%
Foreign Currency Markup (including GST) 2.36%
Reward Rate on International Spends 0.50%
Net Reward -1.86%

As is clear from the calculation above, if we take under consideration the reward rate of the SBI ELITE Credit Card, you effectively pay a mark-up fee of 2.31% (inclusive of GST) of the transacted amount on transactions made in a currency other than INR.

Bank of Baroda Eterna Credit Card

(4.7/5)

Fees

Joining Fee

Rs. 2,499 + GST

Renewal Fee

Rs. 2,499 + GST

Best Suited For

Shopping

Reward Type

Reward Points

International Lounge Access

It is a top-end offering by the Bank of Baroda. You pay a mark-up fee of 2% (GST not included) on the transaction amount for transactions processed in a foreign currency. The forex mark-up fee benefit on the Eterna Credit Card can be summarised as under

Foreign Currency Markup (exclusive of GST) 2%
Foreign Currency Markup (including GST) 2.36%
Reward Rate on International Spends 3.75%
Net Reward 1.39%

You also get an air accident cover worth Rs. 1 crore with the Eterna Credit Card.

Diners-Club-Black-Metal-Edition-Credit-Card

(4.7/5)

Fees

Joining Fee

Rs. 10,000 + GST

Renewal Fee

Rs. 10,000 + GST

Best Suited For

Travel

Reward Type

Reward Points

International Lounge Access

Unlimited Complimentary International Lounge Visits Across the World

This metal card outshines the HDFC Bank Diners Club Black Credit Card and competes with the INFINIA Credit Card. The Diners Club Black Metal Credit Card is loaded with features and is a premium credit card offering. From golfing benefits for the sportsman in you to a comfortable experience at airports with unlimited lounge access, there are so many advantages attached to this credit card. There is a 2% Forex charge associated with this card.

Axis Bank Magnus Credit Card

(4.6/5)

Fees

Joining Fee

Rs. 12,500 + GST

Renewal Fee

Rs. 12,500 + GST

Best Suited For

Travel

Reward Type

Reward Points

International Lounge Access

Unlimited complimentary international airport lounge access for primary cardholders and 8 complimentary visits for the guests every year with Priority Pass

The Magnus Card by Axis Bank is a premium credit card and offers best-in-class benefits on all significant categories of spends, including travel, shopping, and dining. On foreign currency transactions, a mark-up fee of 2% (exclusive of GST) is applicable. The net gain on international spends with the Axis Bank Magnus Credit Card can be calculated as under

Foreign Currency Markup (exclusive of GST) 2%
Foreign Currency Markup (including GST) 2.36%
Reward Rate on International Spends 1.20%
Net Reward -1.16%

Apart from a lower foreign currency mark-up fee, you get international travel benefits as well, including a (limited) complimentary airport lounge access and travel-related insurance benefits.

Standard-Chartered-Ultimate-Credit-Card

(4.7/5)

Fees

Joining Fee

Rs. 5,000 + GST

Renewal Fee

Rs. 5,000 + GST

Best Suited For

Travel

Reward Type

Reward Points

International Lounge Access

1 complimentary lounge visits per month with the Priority Pass membership.

A top-notch credit card by the Standard Chartered Bank, the Ultimate Credit Card comes with a welcome benefit of 6,000 reward points and earns you 5 reward points for every Rs. 150 spent. As far as foreign currency transactions are concerned, you pay an effective markup fee of 2% (GST not included) of the transaction amount (3.5% charged at the time of transaction, 1.5% cashback within 60 days). The net reward rate on foreign currency spends can be calculated under

Foreign Currency Markup (exclusive of GST) 3.5%
Foreign Currency Markup (including GST) 4.13%
Reward Rate on International Spends 3.33% + 1.5%(Cashback on international spends
Net Reward 0.70%

As is clear from the aforementioned data, you get a net reward rate of 0.70% on foreign currency transactions using Standard Chartered Ultimate Credit Card. Since it is a premium card, you also get international travel benefits like travel insurance benefits, including insurance coverage worth Rs. 1 crore in case of accidental air death and complimentary lounge access at international airports with a Priority Pass membership.

American Express Platinum Charge Card

(4.8/5)

Fees

Joining Fee

Rs. 60,000 + GST

Renewal Fee

Rs. 60,000 + GST

Best Suited For

Travel

Reward Type

Reward Points

International Lounge Access

Access to over 1,200 Airport Lounges globally including American Express Lounges, Priority Pass Lounges and Delta Lounges.

This Card is the most premium offering by American Express. Although you’re charged the regular markup fee of 3.5% (GST not included) on the transaction amount, the card earns you accelerated Membership Reward Points on international spends. The foreign currency transaction benefits applicable on the American Express Platinum Credit Card are summarised as under-.

Foreign Currency Markup (exclusive of GST) 3.50%
Foreign Currency Markup (including GST) 4.13%
Reward Rate on International Spends 3.75%
Net Reward Rate -0.38%

In addition to a low forex fee, you also get many international travel benefits, which also include insurance coverage worth Rs. 5 crores in case of accidental air death and complimentary access to Priority Pass and Delta lounges.

Best Credit Cards for International Travel – Forex Markup Fee & Reward Rate

For a quick reference, we’ve summarised the foreign currency mark-up, reward rate, and net gain on international spends on these credit cards in a tabular form-

Credit Card Foreign Currency Markup (exclusive of GST) Foreign Currency Markup (including GST) Reward Rate on International Spends Net Reward
Axis Bank Magnus Credit Card 2% 2.36% 1.20% -1.16%
HDFC Bank Diners Club Black Metal Edition Credit Card 2% 2.36% 3.33% 0.97%
IDFC FIRST Wealth Credit Card 1.50% 1.77% 2.50% 0.73%
HDFC Bank Regalia Gold Credit Card 2% 2.36% 1.33% -1.03%
Bank of Baroda Eterna Credit Card 2% 2.36% 3.75% 1.39%
RBL World Safari Credit Card 0% 0% 0% 0%
SBI ELITE Credit Card 1.99% 2.36% 0.50% -1.86%
IndusInd Legend Credit Card 1.80% 2.12% 2% -0.12%
IDFC FIRST Select Credit Card 1.99% 2.36% 2.50% 0.14%
Credit Cards with Higher Reward Rates on Foreign Transactions
American Express Platinum Card 3.50% 4.13% 3.75% -0.38%
Standard Chartered Ultimate Credit Card 3.5% 4.13% 3.33% + 1.5% (Cashback on international spends 0.70%

Features and Benefits of International Credit Cards

Getting an international credit card is a must thing while traveling abroad. Almost all the credit cards available in the Indian market allow international transactions. However, there are some fees & charges associated with them. These cards make your travel much more hassle-free and convenient as follows:

  • You make online as well as PoS international transactions using an international credit card and avoid the hassle of finding a currency conversion center in a foreign country.
  • International credit cards don’t just allow you to make direct purchases; you can also withdraw cash at international ATMs whenever required. However, there is a high fee associated with this.
  • Though there are high fees and charges on international transactions, some international credit cards offer higher reward rates, which would compensate for the fee amount most of the time. And these cards are even more beneficial when there is a low forex markup fee and high rewards on international purchases.

Pros & Cons of Credit Cards for Foreign Transactions During International Travel

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, credit cards are best suited for foreign currency transactions that either have a lower mark-up fee for transactions made in a foreign currency or earn Reward Points/cashback at an accelerated on international transactions. While these credit cards do offer the advantage of a better reward rate on foreign currency transactions, they also have certain downsides. We shall now discuss the pros and cons of these foreign currency transactions credit cards (not to be confused with prepaid forex cards).

Pros

  • Lower Forex Mark-up Fee: As we have seen, most of these credit cards that we have classified as the best options available in the Indian credit card space for someone who makes transactions in foreign currencies quite frequently charge a lower than usual mark-up fee on foreign currency transactions- usually 1.5% to 2% as compared to the standard rate of 3.5%. RBL Bank’s World Safari Credit Card comes with a zero foreign currency mark-up fee. It is perhaps the only credit card currently available in the Indian credit card market that comes with a zero foreign currency mark-up fee.
  • Higher Reward Rate of International Transactions: Some credit cards, although they charge the same usual markup fee of 3.5% on foreign currency transactions, offer a higher reward rate on international transactions.
  • Additional Travel Perks: Since the majority of these credit cards are either super premium credit cards or premium travel cards, they offer additional travel benefits and perks like complimentary access to international and domestic lounges, complimentary holiday vouchers, complimentary night stays at hotels, and many more.

Cons

  • High Annual Fee: Since most of these credit cards are super-premium credit cards or premium travel cards, they come with a high annual membership fee. For example, HDFC Infinia Credit Card (Metal Edition) charges an annual fee of Rs. 12,500. The annual fee of the American Express Platinum Credit Card is Rs. 60,000.
  • Acceptability: Since you are supposed to carry these credit cards with you on international trips, it is important to make sure that the payment network (Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, etc.) on which the card is issued has wide acceptance. If your credit card is issued on the Visa or MasterCard platform, you will likely not face any issue in terms of acceptance of your card, as almost all merchants accept both Visa and MasterCard credit cards. However, if your credit card is issued on any other network- say, American Express or Diners Club, your credit card might be less widely accepted.
  • TCS Deduction: If you make foreign currency transactions worth more than Rs. 7 lacs in a year, your card issuer mandatorily collects a TCS (Tax Collection at Source) of 7% of the total amount transacted in foreign currency under that Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) as per Section 206C of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

How to Make the Most of International Travel Credit Cards

While these credit cards with lower forex mark-up fees or higher reward rates on international transactions allow you to make transactions in foreign currency with relatively lower overhead charges, certain steps are advisable to be taken to make sure that you make the most of your credit card on foreign trips or while making transactions in a foreign currency in general-

  • Intimate Your Bank: Card issuers sometimes freeze your credit card if they detect any unusual activity. A big transaction on your credit card all of a sudden from a foreign location might be considered an unusual activity. It is advisable to inform your bank/card issuer about your foreign trip so that your card is allowed if you make a large transaction with your card on the trip.
  • Carry Multiple Credit Cards: It is always advisable to carry multiple (at least two) credit cards issued on different payment networks on a foreign trip. This is majorly for two reasons- many merchants do not accept credit cards issued on specific payment networks, and it is very easy to exhaust your credit limit when on a foreign trip, as many hotels hold a certain amount on your card to cover incidentals.

Bottom Line

If you’re someone who frequently travels abroad or you love shopping from foreign websites and enjoy foreign subscription services that charge you in foreign currency, these credit cards can save you a lot of money. The regular mark-up fee of 3.5% might seem less at first, but on large transactions, this 3.5% might mean a whole lot, and if you’re not able to pay your bills on time, the mark-up fee also incurs the same compounding interest as applicable to the actual spends made on the card.

Therefore, while applying for a new credit card, do consider the proportion of total spends on your credit card accounts for foreign currency transactions. If it is a substantial amount, it’s a good idea to consider one of these credit cards that come with a lower foreign currency mark-up fee.

FAQs:

Card issuers charge a mark-up fee on transactions made a foreign currency to process the transaction via a foreign payment gateway and to alleviate varying foreign currency exchange rates (sometimes due to market fluctuations, you may be charged at a different forex rate than the one applicable to your card issuer).
RBL Bank World Safari Credit Card is the only credit card in India that comes with a zero foreign currency mark-up rate. However, you don’t earn any reward points on international transactions on this credit card.
You are charged a mark-up fee of 3.5% (plus GST) on most credit cards on making transactions in a foreign currency.
HDFC Regalia Credit Card, IDFC FIRST Select Credit Card, IndusInd Bank Duo Plus Credit Card and RBL Bank Edition Credit Card are some of the non-premium or mid-level credit cards that come with a lower foreign currency mark-up fee.
Credit Cards do not have a credit limit specific to foreign currency transactions. There is a general credit limit, and both domestic and foreign currency transactions count towards it.
Though credit cards charge a high forex markup fee on international transactions, you can still prefer some of them if you make international transactions very often. Credit cards with low forex markup fees and with high reward rates on international purchases should be used for foreign transactions.
Almost every credit card charges a forex markup fee on international transactions, so no credit card can be considered free for international transactions. However, there are some credit cards that come with lower forex markup fees, such as HDFC Infinia, HDFC Regalia, IndusInd Celesta, and many more.

7 Comments

  1. Nishant Reply

    Hey Ankur how about IdFc first wow, it has zero forex markup

    • Rajat Reply

      Need to open FD with IDFC to be eligible for IDFC WOW Credit Card

  2. kartik Reply

    Hey Ankur, how about axis bank reserve credit card, 1.5% markup and 12% reward. Net reward ~10%

    • Ankur Mittal Reply

      Yes, agreed would get it added in the list

  3. Anvi Reply

    For international travel both HDFC Bank INFINIA Metal Credit Card & Axis Bank Magnus Credit Card provide amazing offers and benefits but personally I would like to go with HDFC Bank INFINIA Metal Credit Card as it provides Complimentary Club Marriott membership for a year and 20% discount on dining and stay in the Asia-Pacific region. Also, Insurance coverage worth Rs. 3 crore against accidental air death, Rs. 50 lakh for medical emergencies during international air travel, and credit shield cover upto Rs. 9 lakh.

  4. Nikhil Reply

    As per my experience while traveling abroad Axis Bank Magnus Credit Card is one of the best credit cards for International Travel.

    Annual Fee: Rs. 12,500 + GST
    Min Salary: Rs. 1-1.5 Lakh/month
    Unlimited Lounge Access, 8 Airport Concierge Services
    Hotel Discounts & Vouchers
    BookMyShow: Buy 1 Get 1
    EazyDiner: Up to 40% off

  5. Aniket Bhagat Reply

    Very surprised to see that the AU Zenith+ card is not on this list. With an effective reward rate of 0.83% after the 2% returns minus 1.17% forex charges, this metal card with 16 international lounge access, Airport meet and greet, effectively free (yes 900 GST after getting back the 5000 rupees as points which are 1:1 for vouchers and flight booking), 16 BookMyshow B1G1 upto 500, extra 1.33% rewards by monthly milestone of 1000 points on 75k spends and a Taj Epicure membership on spending 12L a year, it should be at the top of this list.
    Dear Rajat, please take note and see this comment once.

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