4 Ways to Carry Money When Traveling Overseas
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Planning a trip abroad is much more than just budgeting for expenses. After booking flights and hotel, the next big worry is to figure out a way to carry money overseas.
While buying local currency of the destination is the easiest way to eliminate all your transaction worries, carrying too much cash is not advisable. Debit and credit card are the next best option, but they involve stiff costs that can add up over the duration of the trip. And then, of course, there are forex cards.
We recommend carrying a mix of all the available options as per your needs rather than depending on one. Credit/debit cards can come in handy during emergencies, whereas cash is useful for small expenses. Forex cards are definitely the best form of plastic to use for majority of transactions, but new-age products such as NiYo card score higher in terms of convenience and costs compared with forex cards.
Related Read: Tips to Get the Best Forex Deal Before any Travel
We tell you features and charges of different ways of making purchases abroad.
Credit & Debit Card
These are the most convenient options to include in your travel kitty as you must already own a global debit or credit card. But, using just debit or credit card for transacting overseas can be prohibitively expensive as each transaction involves both conversion fee and foreign transaction fee.
For instance, if you pay a restaurant bill worth $25 (INR 1,770) by your credit card, you will shell out about 6 per cent extra on various charges, which will amount to $1.5 (INR 106).
In terms of safety, both credit and debit cards are vulnerable to cloning and other frauds at global PoS terminals. While credit card companies compensate the user in case of fraud when traveling abroad, in the case of debit card, getting your money back from the bank is difficult.
Most international as well as domestic Visa- and Mastercard-powered credit and debit cards are accepted globally by merchants.
Currency conversion charge – 3.5-5 per cent
Foreign transaction fees – 2.5-3.5 per cent
ATM withdrawal charge – 3-5.5 per cent
A forex card lets you preload a currency as per the exchange rate at the time of conversion. It’s like carrying foreign currency in a card in place of hard cash.
You can carry multiple forms of currency in one card at a time. Forex card saves you from foreign transaction and conversion fee as you transact in the local currency pre-loaded in your card. However, if you transact in a currency different than the merchant country’s currency, you will have to pay a mark-up of 3-3.5 per cent.
You can get a forex card by submitting your Visa and travel documents, and typically, they come with a validity of two-four years. Maximum amount that can be loaded in a forex card in a year is capped at $250,000.
Forex cards are safe to use as they are enabled by a PIN and score high on convenience as they are accepted by most merchants all over the globe and can also be used to withdraw cash from ATMs in select countries. Almost all banks and most money exchanges offer multi-currency forex cards but the features and charges are unique to each issuer. Some forex cards also come with an insurance cover.
Currency conversion and foreign transaction charge – 0
ATM withdrawal charge – INR 150-250
Issuance fees - INR 125 – INR 500
Reload and encashment charges – INR 75-100
Cross-currency mark-up charge – 3-3.5 per cent
Related Read: How an Entrepreneur Can Manage Forex Needs Smartly
NiYo Global Card
Launched earlier this year, a NiYo card is a rupee-denominated debit card that converts the amount to be paid into the local currency in real time at the time of the transaction. This means that unlike a foreign-denominated forex card, you don’t have to top-up NiYo card in a foreign currency before you start traveling. And, all this at no extra cost.
NiYo cards are different than forex cards in the sense that you don’t have to pay loading and unloading charges every time you top-up or encash the remaining balance in your card. Also, with each transaction you are charged the existing exchange rate, whereas a forex card is pre-loaded at the conversion rate during loading the card. NiYo card can also be used in India, unlike a forex card.
Additionally, a user can lock his card when not in use to protect it from any potential fraud. This can be done through NiYo’s app. The app also lets you check your transaction history, which includes exchange rate of each transaction, for no extra cost. A forex card, on the other hand, charge about $0.45-0.5 for balance enquiry.
Currency conversion and foreign transaction charge – 0
ATM withdrawal charge – 0*
Issuance fees - 0
Reload and encashment charges – 0
Cross-currency mark-up charge – 0
*bank of the ATM network may charge 1-2.5 per cent
At least 20 per cent of your total travel budget should be in cash. Cash comes in handy for small purchases such as bus tickets or grocery shopping. Also, small merchants and private taxi drivers prefer transacting in cash. In fact, if your itinerary includes off-beat destinations or small town/villages in a foreign country, you should look at carrying maximum cash.
Having said that, carrying too much cash is not only inconvenient but also unsafe. So, limit your cash to a maximum of 50 per cent of your budget.
If you run out of cash during the trip, withdrawing from an ATM is the most cost-efficient way to get cash. Take note, foreign transaction charge charged by the ATM bank is displayed right before you complete the transaction. If you think it’s a lot and you can get a lower charge in an exchange office, you can cancel the transaction. Exchange kiosks at airports are the most expensive option to convert money and hence, should be avoided.
Most importantly, if you have to convert money, do so at once instead of making small withdrawals to avoid fees to add up.