By Ankur Mittal
Updated On November 1, 2021

Using your regular credit card while you’re on an international trip might not be the wisest of decisions, as international transactions, which are usually in a foreign currency, attract an additional forex mark-up fee, which, for most credit cards is around 3.5% of the transaction amount. For this reason, banks offer prepaid forex cards, which are tailored for the needs of the customers who make frequent international transactions.

As the name suggests, these are prepaid cards, i.e., unlike credit cards, you need to load some balance on these cards before you can make any purchases. Most forex cards support multiple currencies- you can load the card in any of the supported currencies. Spends in the currency loaded on the card do not attract any foreign currency mark-up fee. Therefore, it’s a good idea to carry a forex card on an international trip loaded with the home currency of the country you are visiting.

Here we have shortlisted some of the best prepaid forex cards offered by the various banks in the country. Many of these cards, just like credit cards, also offer add-on benefits like complimentary lounge access, insurance plans, discount vouchers, etc.

HDFC Bank Regalia ForexPlus Card

Issuance Fee Rs. 1,000 (plus applicable taxes)
Cash Withdrawal Charges USD 4
Currencies Supported USD
Cross-Currency Usage Fee Nil
Additional Benefits 2 Complimentary lounge access at international airports across India

 

The Regalia ForexPlus Card is a sub-premium prepaid forex card by HDFC Bank. Although the card comes with zero annual fee, an initial fee of Rs. 1,000 is payable at the time of card issuance.

Regalia ForexPlus Card can be loaded in US Dollars. The best part about the Regalia ForexPlus Card is, not only that you are not charged any mark-up fee on transactions in USD, there is no cross-currency usage fee applicable on transactions done in any other currency either. You may refer to this article for more information on HDFC Regalia ForexPlus Card.

MakeMyTrip HDFC Bank ForexPlus Card

Issuance Fee Rs. 500 (plus applicable taxes)
Cash Withdrawal Charges USD 2
Currencies Supported 22 Currencies
Cross-Currency Usage Fee 2% of the transaction amount
Additional Benefits MMT Bllack Membership, 2 complimentary lounge access at international airports across India

 

MakeMyTrip HDFC ForexPlus Card is a co-branded prepaid forex card by the bank. The card comes with an initial issuance fee of Rs. 500 (plus GST), however, you do not pay any annual membership fee for the card.

The card can be loaded in 22 different currencies including  Australian Dollar, Dirhams, Canadian Dollar, Euro, Hongkong Dollar, Japanese Yen, Singapore Dollar, Sterling Pound, Swiss Franc, Swedish Krona, Thailand Baht, South African Rand, Oman Riyal, New Zealand Dollar, Danish Krone, Norwegian Krone, Saudi Riyal, Korean Won, Bahrain Dinar, Qatari Riyal, Kuwait Dinar and US Dollar. Transactions made in the currency loaded on the card do not attract any forex mark-up fee, however, a cross-currency usage charge of 2% of the transaction amount is applicable on spends on the card in a currency other than the one loaded on the card.

As it is an MMT co-branded card, it comes with some exclusive benefits from MakeMyTrip like complimentary MMT Black membership and discounts on flight/hotel/holiday bookings via MMT. Apart from these add-on privileges from MakeMyTrip, you also get many other benefits with the card like complimentary airport lounge access, Amazon and Ola vouchers, a comprehensive insurance plan and many more. Refer to this article to learn more about MakeMyTrip HDFC ForexPlus Card.

HDFC Bank Multicurrency Platinum ForexPlus Chip Card

Issuance Fee Rs. 500 (plus applicable taxes)
Cash Withdrawal Charges USD 2
Currencies Supported 22 Currencies
Cross-Currency Usage Fee 2% of the transaction amount

 

Just like MakeMyTrip HDFC ForexPlus Card, the Multicurrency Platinum card can also be loaded in 22 different foreign currencies- Australian Dollar, Dirhams, Canadian Dollar, Euro, Hongkong Dollar, Japanese Yen, Singapore Dollar, Sterling Pound, Swiss Franc, Swedish Krona, Thailand Baht, South African Rand, Oman Riyal, New Zealand Dollar, Danish Krone, Norwegian Krone, Saudi Riyal, Korean Won, Bahrain Dinar, Qatari Riyal, Kuwait Dinar and US Dollar. No mark-up fee is charged on transactions made in the currency loaded on the card, a cross-currency usage fee of 2% of the transaction amount is applicable on transactions made in a currency other than the one loaded on the card.

Multicurrency Platinum ForexPlus Chip Card comes with an initial issuance fee (joining fee) of Rs. 500 (plus GST) which is waived off on the first-time loading of a minimum of USD 1,000. Although the card does not earn you any reward points/cashback, you do get plenty of add-on benefits like Amazon vouchers, emergency assistance, global concierge service, etc. with the card. Check out this article for more info on HDFC Multicurrency Platinum ForexPlus Chip Card.

Axis Bank Multi-Currency Forex Card

Issuance Fee Rs. 300 (plus applicable taxes)
Cash Withdrawal Charges USD 2.25 (plus applicable taxes)
Currencies Supported 16 Currencies
Cross-Currency Usage Fee 3.5% of the transaction amount

 

The multi-Currency Forex Card by Axis Bank is a prepaid international travel card. The card supports 16 widely used currencies including United States Dollar, Euro, Pound Sterling, Australian Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Swiss Franc, Japanese Yen, Singapore Dollar, Swedish Krona/Kronor, UAE Dirham, Saudi Royal, Thai Baht, New Zealand Dollar, Hong Kong Dollar, South African Rand and Danish Krone. As with all forex cards, transactions in the currency loaded on the card do not attract any mark-up fee, however, transactions in a currency other than the one loaded on the card attract a cross-currency mark-up fee of 3.5% of the transaction amount.

Axis Bank Multi-Currency Forex Card comes with an initial issuance fee of Rs. 300 (plus GST) which is waived off for Burgundy and Priority account holders. Although the card does not have any reward structure, you however do get many value-added benefits like discounts on international roaming packs by VI, a lower currency conversion rate for Southeast Asian currencies, and 247×7 travel assistance by TripAssist. You may want to refer to this article for more information on Axis Bank Multi-Currency Forex Card.

Axis Bank Club Vistara Forex Card

Issuance Fee Rs. 500 (plus applicable taxes)
Cash Withdrawal Charges USD 2.25 (plus applicable taxes)
Currencies Supported 16 Currencies
Cross-Currency Usage Fee 3.5% of the transaction amount
Other Benefits 3 CV Points per USD 5 spent, Rs. 1,000 cashback on VI international roaming packs

 

Axis Bank Club Vistara Forex Card is a co-branded prepaid forex card by Axis Bank in collaboration with Air Vistara. The card comes with an initial issuance fee of Rs. 500 (plus GST), however, no annual membership fee is applicable on the card.

Axis Bank Club Vistara Forex Card can also be loaded in 16 different currencies including United States Dollar, Euro, Pound Sterling, Australian Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Swiss Franc, Japanese Yen, Singapore Dollar, Swedish Krona/Kronor, UAE Dirham, Saudi Royal, Thai Baht, New Zealand Dollar, Hong Kong Dollar, South African Rand and Danish Krone.

Since it is an Air Vistara co-branded forex card, you earn Club Vistara Points (CV Points) as rewards on Axis Bank Club Vistara Forex Card. You earn 3 CV Points for every USD 5 spent with the card. Apart from CV Points, you also get complimentary Club Vistara base membership. Other add-on benefits that you get with the Club Vistara Forex Card include cashback on international roaming packs and 24×7 emergency assistance during international travel.

Like most other forex cards, transactions made in the currency loaded on the card do not attract any foreign currency mark-up fee, however, a cross-currency usage charge of 3.5% of the transaction amount is applicable on transactions made in a currency other than the one loaded on the card. You may refer to this article for more information on Axis Bank club Vistara Forex Card.

Axis Bank World Traveller Forex Card

Issuance Fee Rs. 500 (plus applicable taxes)
Cash Withdrawal Charges USD 2.25 (plus applicable taxes)
Currencies Supported 16 Currencies
Cross-Currency Usage Fee 3.5% of the transaction amount
Other Benefits 5 Miles on Miles & More per USD 5 spent, Rs. 1,000 cashback on VI international roaming packs

 

Axis Bank World Traveller Forex Card is another prepaid travel card by Axis Bank in collaboration with Germany-based Lufthansa airlines. Like the other two Axis Bank forex cards, the World Traveller Forex Card can also be loaded in 16 different foreign currencies including United States Dollar, Euro, Pound Sterling, Australian Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Swiss Franc, Japanese Yen, Singapore Dollar, Swedish Krona/Kronor, UAE Dirham, Saudi Royal, Thai Baht, New Zealand Dollar, Hong Kong Dollar, South African Rand and Danish Krone.

Like most other forex cards, no forex mark-up fee is applicable on transactions made in the currency loaded on the card, however, a cross-curremcy usage fee of 3.5% of the transaction amount is applicable on transactions made in a currency other than the one loaded on the card.

As it is an Air Lufthansa co-branded card, as a cardholder, you are entitled to complimentary membership of Air Lufthansa’s Miles & More loyalty program. As far as the reward structure is concerned, you earn 5 Award Miles per USD 5 spent with the card. These Award Miles are added to the Miles & More account linked with your mobile number registered with the bank. Apart from the AirMiles, you also get a few other benefits like a cashback of up to Rs.1,000 on VI international roaming packs. You may refer to this article for more information on Axis Bank World Traveller Forex Card.

State Bank Multi-Currency Foreign Travel Card

Issuance Fee Rs. 100 (plus applicable taxes)
Cash Withdrawal Charges USD 1.75 (plus applicable taxes)
Currencies Supported 7 Currencies
Cross-Currency Usage Fee 3% of the transaction amount

 

State Bank Multi-Currency Foreign Travel Card is a prepaid forex card by the State Bank of India. There is no annual membership fee applicable on the card, however, an initial issuance fee of Rs. 100 (plus GST) is chargeable at the time of issuance. The issuance fee of the SBI Multi-Currency Foreign Travel Card is the least amongst all the forex cards presently offered in India.

State Bank Multi-Currency Foreign Travel Card can be loaded in seven different currencies- USD, Euro, Pound, Singapore Dollar, Canadian Dollar, UAE Dirham, and Australian Dollar. No mark-up fee is charged on transactions made in the currency loaded on the card, however, a cross-currency usage fee of 3% of the transaction amount is applicable on transactions made in a currency other than the one loaded on the card. See this article for more details on State Bank Multi-Currency Foreign Travel Card.

IndusInd Bank Multi-Currency Travel Card

Issuance Fee Rs. 300 (plus applicable taxes)
Cash Withdrawal Charges USD 2 (plus applicable taxes)
Currencies Supported 14 Currencies
Cross-Currency Usage Fee 3.5% of the transaction amount

 

As the name suggests, IndusInd Multi-Currency Travel Card is a prepaid forex card by IndusInd Bank. You do not pay any annual membership fee for the card, however an initial fee of Rs. 300 is payable at the time of issuance.

The card supports 14 international currencies- US Dollar, Australian Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Euro, Great Britain Pound, Hong Kong Dollar, Japanese Yen, New Zealand Dollar, Singapore Dollar, South African Rand, Swiss Franc, Thailand Baht, Saudi Riyal and UAE Dirham. No forex mark-up fee is charged on transactions made in the currency loaded on the card; a cross-currency usage fee of 3% of the transaction amount is however applicable on transactions made in a currency other than the one loaded on the card. Check out this article to learn more about IndusInd Bank Multi-Currency Travel Card

ICICI Bank Sapphiro Forex Prepaid Card

Issuance Fee Rs. 2,999 (plus applicable taxes)
Cash Withdrawal Charges USD 2 (plus applicable taxes)
Currencies Supported 15 Currencies
Cross-Currency Usage Fee Nil
Other Benefits 2 complimentary international airport lounge access

 

Sapphiro Forex Prepaid Card is a premium prepaid forex card by ICICI Bank. The card comes with a hefty joining (issuance) fee of Rs. 2,999 (plus GST), and being a premium forex card offers plenty of add-on privileges like shopping vouchers, Uber vouchers, complimentary international lounge access with Dragon Pass, discounts on international roaming packs and many other benefits. There is no annual membership fee applicable on ICICI Sapphiro Forex Prepaid Card.

One differentiating feature of the Sapphiro Forex Prepaid Card is, just like HDFC Regalia Forex Card, no cross-currency usage fee is applicable on ICICI Sapphiro Forex Prepaid Card either, which means that you can transact in any currency without being charged any extra fee. You may want to refer to this article for more details on ICICI Sapphiro Forex Prepaid Card.

Goibibo ICICI Bank Forex Prepaid Card

Issuance Fee Rs. 499 (plus applicable taxes)
Cash Withdrawal Charges USD 2 (plus applicable taxes)
Currencies Supported 15 Currencies
Cross-Currency Usage Fee 3.5% of the transaction amount
Other Benefits Gift vouchers from Goibibo

 

Goibibo ICICI Forex Prepaid Card, as is obvious from the name, is a co-branded forex card by ICICI Bank launched in collaboration with the travel portal Goibibo. The card comes with an initial issuance fee of Rs. 499 (plus GST), while no annual fee is applicable on the card.

Since it is a Goibibo co-branded card, you get many Goibibo exclusive benefits with the card like goCash+ gift voucher worth Rs. 500 and Goibibo vouchers worth Rs. 15,000 with the card as a welcome gift. Apart from these Goibibo exclusive benefits, you also get cab vouchers worth Rs. 1,000 on loading a minimum of USD 1,000 on the card, discounted rates on dining at Indian restaurants across Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, London, Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok, and a comprehensive insurance plan with covers against air accident, checked-in baggage, loss of passport/ticket, etc. Check out this article for more details on Goibibo ICICI Forex Card.

ICICI Bank Coral Prepaid Forex Card

Issuance Fee Rs. 499 (plus applicable taxes)
Cash Withdrawal Charges USD 2 (plus applicable taxes)
Currencies Supported 15 Currencies
Cross-Currency Usage Fee 3.5% of the transaction amount
Other Benefits BookMyShow and Uber Gift Vouchers

 

Coral Prepaid Forex Card is another prepaid forex card by ICICI Bank. The card comes with an initial joining fee of Rs. 499 (plus GST), however, an annual fee of Rs. 299 (plus GST) is applicable second year onwards.

Although ICICI Coral Prepaid Forex Card does not have a reward structure (like Reward Points of cashback), you do get plenty of value-added benefits with the card like BookMyShow and Uber vouchers, comprehensive insurance plan, complete card protection by OneAssist, etc. You may refer to this article for more information on ICICI Coral Prepaid Forex Card.

Bottom Line

While credit cards are an extremely useful financial tool, using credit cards while on foreign trips can cost you a lot as almost all credit cards charge you a mark-up fee of around 3.5% of the transaction amount (it may be less in case of some premium and super-premium credit cards) on transactions made in a foreign currency. Therefore, it is almost always a good idea to carry a forex card on foreign trips and use the same for foreign currency transactions.

As you can see above, SBI Multi-Currency Foreign Travel Card has the least issuance fee of just Rs. 100 amongst all forex cards and premium forex cards like HDFC Regalia ForexPlus Card and ICICI Sapphiro Forex Card can be used to make payments in any currency without any cross-currency usage fee. Then, there are also co-branded forex cards like Axis Bank Club Vistara Forex Card, Goibibo ICICI Forex Card, MakeMyTrip HDFC ForexPlus Card, etc. You must find the right forex card that suits your needs the best. For example, for someone who does not travel very frequently, a simple and less expensive forex card like SBI Multi-Currency Foreign Travel Card might be a good pick, on the other hand, if you fly frequently via a particular airline, say Air Vistara, an Air Vistara co-branded forex card like Axis Bank Club Vistara Forex Card will suit you the best.

FAQs:

Prepaid cards are somewhat like debit cards, the only difference being that spends on your debit card are deducted from your savings account, a prepaid card, on the other hand, has an account of its own to which you can add money (just like you deposit money to your savings account). All spends on the prepaid card are deducted from the amount that you added to your card account. A prepaid card is called “prepaid” as unlike credit cards, where you pay the amount only after spending, you have to deposit the amount to your prepaid card account before you can spend.

Prepaid forex cards or travel cards are prepaid cards that are tailored for the needs of frequent international travelers. One of the most common features of prepaid forex cards is, most of these cards can be loaded in multiple foreign currencies and no mark-up fee is charged on transactions made in the currency loaded on the card.

State Bank Multi-Currency Foreign Travel Card has the least issuance fee of Rs. 100 (plus GST).

HDFC Regalia ForexPlus Card and ICICI Bank Sapphiro Forex Prepaid Card are two forex cards that have zero cross-currency usage fee, i.e., you can spend in any currency with these cards without being charged any additional fee.

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