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The below content is purely for informational purposes and is not intended to constitute advisory of any kind. Please note, these are in-depth articles which are best viewed on large screen devices like laptops, desktops and tablets. The position reflected in this article has been updated as of March 15, 2024.

As an international student, you have to manage your overseas expenses, including groceries, clothes, meals, transportation. Carrying cash, traveller's cheques, credit or debit cards can be challenging as it entails managing multiple currencies and keeping track of conversion rates and exchange fees. This is where a forex card can offer distinct advantages. This article provides insights on forex cards, their features and benefits, and the process of obtaining one. 

 

What is a forex card? 

Forex cards are prepaid cards loaded in foreign currency that offer international travellers/students a convenient and cost-effective method for making foreign currency payments. You can opt for a single or multi currency forex card which allows you to load your card in single or multiple currencies at a locked exchange rate, respectively. Just like a regular debit card, you can use a forex card to withdraw cash from ATMs, shop online or at merchant establishments in the currency of your destination country. There are no transaction charges if you transact in the same currency that your card is loaded in. Moreover, you can top-up this card from time to time with your preferred amount and currencies.

 

Benefits of a forex card

  • Cost efficient: Forex cards charge relatively low/no mark-up fees, allowing you to save on currency conversion charges. You can avoid currency volatility by locking in the exchange rate at the time of loading the forex card
  • Hassle-free and instant reload: You can transfer funds from your bank account using digital channels (mobile, phone or net banking) or atany branch of your forex card
  • Easy and convenient: These cards are convenient to carry, and you can use them at ATMs to withdraw cash or make payments at Point of Sale (PoS) terminals. Most forex card providers offer the functionality of making contactless payments for transactions below a certain threshold
  • Safe and secure: The chip-and-PIN technology and encryption features keep your funds safe from theft and unauthorised access. If lost or stolen, these cards can be blocked easily through phone, internet or mobile banking. Some providers, including ICICI Bank, also offer emergency cash delivery at your doorstep
  • Multiple currency: You can apply for a multiple currency forex card depending upon your needs. Such a card allows you to store and use multiple currencies, which is beneficial when travelling to different countries
  • Insurance: Some providers, including ICICI Bank, provide complimentary insurance against accidents, loss of baggage and cards, scams, online frauds, etc
  • Better financial management: You can set transaction limits for online and in-store purchases to manage your budget
  • Offers and discounts: Banks often have tie-ups with different brands and offer exclusive joining benefits. You should get in touch with your bank for more details
  • International Student Identity Card (ISIC) membership: Leading banks like ICICI Bank, provide an ISIC membership, an internationally recognised identity card valid in 130+ countries, which helps in getting discounts on travel, shopping, etc in these countries

 

The Forex card offered by ICICI Bank comes with multiple features. The prominent ones include:

  • Easy online reload using the mobile application
  • Discounts at various stores and complimentary insurance
  • Availability in 15 currencies, including the United States Dollar (USD), Canadian Dollar (CAD), Euro (EUR), and Great British Pound (GBP)
  • 24/7 customer support services through the self-care portal
  • Free add-on secondary card as part of joining kit
  • Emergency cash delivery in case of loss or theft

Apply For student forex card

 

Did you know?

While withdrawing cash from global ATMs or PoS terminals, you may get an option to transact in local (destination) or home currency (INR). If you select the option to transact in INR, your transaction will be converted into the local currency using Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC), often comes with additional mark-ups or fees. To avoid such costs, you should select the option to transact in the local currency.

Key considerations while applying for a forex card

Generally, to avail a new forex card you do not need an existing relationship with your bank or the forex card provider.

It is prudent for you to select a forex card after carefully considering the factors outlined below:

  • Ensure that the card is widely accepted at your intended destinations
  • Select a card that allows ATM withdrawals free of cost or with transparent fees
  • Opt for a card that offers internet/mobile banking for account management
  • Choose a card with digital reload functionality and free/minimal top-up fees
  • Check the daily online loading limits for your forex cards
  • Review the annual charges, including mark-up and reload fees, if any
Did you know?

All overseas money transfers, including the money loaded on the forex card, are treated as an outward remittance and fall under the purview of the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS), where resident Indians are not permitted to spend more than USD 250,000 per financial year (April–March). This limit comes into account when the money is loaded into the card and applies to the person who has funded the card and not to the cardholder.

Understanding tax implications

As per the Finance Act, 2020, and Section 206C of the Income Tax Act, 1961, Tax Collected at Source (TCS) is applicable on outward remittances under LRS subject to the applicable threshold limit. The TCS rate may vary depending on the nature of the remittance and the total amount being transferred. It is important for individuals to comply with regulations while making outward remittances. 

TCS is applicable at the Permanent Account Number (PAN) level for the person funding the forex card. Any TCS paid can be used to offset tax liability in India when filing income tax returns. To know more about the applicable TCS rates and the permissible purposes for sending money abroad under the LRS scheme, click here.

 

Process for applying for a forex card

  • You can apply for a forex card online by either visiting your bank’s or forex card provider’s website or through their mobile app and net banking facilities. Alternatively, you can also visit a branch of your bank or forex card provider. 
  • You will need to provide the necessary documents, including PAN card and cardholder’s passport. Additionally, proof of identity, proof of address, and other documents of the person who is funding the card are also required.
  • If you are a new customer for the bank, you may be required to do a Know Your Customer (KYC) verification before being issued a forex card. Your forex card will be delivered to your doorstep in India upon successful application and submission of requisite documentation.

Apply for student forex card

Conclusion

Forex cards offer a secure, convenient, and cost-effective solution for international transactions. By locking in exchange rates and avoiding currency fluctuations, they provide a budget-conscious alternative to traditional payment methods. Explore your banking options and carefully evaluate associated charges and benefits before selecting the card that best suits your needs.

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Disclaimer:

The contents of this article/infographic are meant solely for informational purposes. The contents are generic in nature and are not intended to serve as a substitute for specific advice on any matter whatsoever. The information is subject to updation, completion and verification and the applicable norms may keep changing materially from time to time. This information is also not intended for distribution or use by any person in any jurisdiction where such distribution or use would be contrary to applicable laws or would subject ICICI Bank Limited/its affiliates to any licensing or registration requirements. ICICI Bank Limited/its affiliates and their representatives shall not be liable for any direct or indirect losses or liability incurred arising in connection with any decision taken by any person on the basis of this content. Please conduct your own due diligence and consult your financial advisor before making any decision. Terms and conditions of ICICI Bank and third parties apply. ICICI Bank is not responsible for third party services. Nothing contained herein shall constitute or be deemed to constitute an advice, invitation or solicitation to avail any products/ services of third parties.