There are a number of things to do when one plans for a foreign visit. One of these is to carry foreign currency. But what is the best way to hold foreign currency when travelling abroad? Using only cash is not recommended, especially if you’re going on a long vacation. Other than hard cash, there are a few other ways you can carry forex such as travellers cheques, debit and credit cards, prepaid travel cards but a prepaid forex card is the best choice.
Prepaid forex cards are the safest option as they are enabled with PIN protection, can be swiped for all sorts of transactions and are attractive in terms of pricing. A prepaid card can be loaded with multiple currencies on a single card. However, if you’re visiting one country only, it is better to load a single currency.It is suggested that you carry a certain amount of hard cash, and the remaining in forex card in 20:80 ratio.
If you are planning on a holiday abroad, here is what you should know about prepaid forex cards:
- Place To Buy
Get your prepaid forex card and buy forex in India from an authorised bank or forex dealer only. All you need to do is fill the application form with personal details, amount of foreign currency etc, and submit it with a self-attested photocopy of your passport. Some may ask for a copy of the visa as well, so get a confirmation on the required documents.
- Charges Applicable
Be aware of the various charges levied for using prepaid forex card. Although there is no charge for swiping the card at a merchant outlet, there is a fee for transactions like balance enquiry, cash withdrawal, monthly international SMS alert, replacement card fee in case you need one, statement request charge, charge slip retrieval charge and cross currency markup charge.
Some banks may however issue ‘Zero Cross Currency Conversion Charges’ where you can use the card in any currency for cash withdrawals and make merchant payments. Some banks also levy inactivity fees if there has been no debit or credit on the card for a consecutive period of more than six months.
- Card Activation and Safety
Get to know from the issuer how to activate the card, and more importantly how to re-generate the card PIN in case you forget it abroad. Also international fraud in cards is a known fact. Cloning of cards is the biggest threat and at times the card can be compromised in terms of usage. Make sure that the card is always swiped in front of you. Always have the 24-hour helpline number handy.
- Daily limit
There is a daily limit on the usage and amount of cash that can be withdrawn in a day. At the ATMs or merchant outlets, when you are prompted, select the credit card option as there won’t be a separate option for forex card.
- Insurance cover
There could be different types of insurance cover on forex cards. Confirm with the issuer if your card covers you against misuse of lost card, counterfeiting, personal accident insurance and loss of check-in baggage. Some cards do cover ATM assault and robbery including the expenses incurred towards medical treatment.