Best Forex Card for International Travel

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Contributor, Benzinga
November 21, 2022

A forex card is one of the most convenient and safe ways to carry cash and exchange money for your travels abroad. It's a widely accepted payment and is simple to use, like a credit or debit card. When selecting a type of forex card, you need to consider the countries you are traveling to. Find out more about the best forex card for international travel, their benefits and how to use them. 

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Quick look: Best Forex Cards

  • Best for Exchange Rate: Wise Travel Card
  • Best for Discounts and Exclusive Rewards: Axis Bank Forex Card
  • Best for Low Fees: Travelex Money Card
  • Best for Convenience: IndusInd Bank Multi-Currency Forex Card
  • Best for No International Transaction Fees: HSBC Everyday Global Travel Card

5 Best Forex Cards for International Travel

The following are among the best five forex cards and their features:

Wise Travel Card

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With the Wise Travel forex card, you can enjoy a better exchange rate and lower fees than your bank. The Wise Travel Card is ideal for purchasing goods online from other countries, and it charges no transaction fees.  The Wise card is accepted across the MasterCard network.

Best for: Frequent travelers

Card Validity: The validity of your card is stated on the front of the card. Wise will notify you when it's time to order a new one.

Number of Currencies: 50+

Fees and Charges: 

  • After making two withdrawals of up to $100 each month for free, you'll be charged $1.50 per withdrawal. 
  • There's a 2% fee on any amount you withdraw above $100.
  • Wise charges a fee of $9 when you order a card.

Pros:

  • Best exchange rates globally
  • One of the lowest conversion fees on the market
  • No international transaction fees
  • No annual or monthly fees
  • Extremely low costs to send money overseas

Cons: 

  • If you require a replacement card, it may take up to two to three weeks to arrive.
  • You can only top up your account online or in the app. 
  • There are no cash or check payment options.
  • There are no credit facilities.

Axis Bank Forex Card

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Axis Bank provides four different types of forex cards. Each card has unique perks and disadvantages, so you can select which suits your requirements. The Axis Bank forex card offers emergency assistance and a miles program. Using Mastercard's contactless technology, the card offers quick and secure payments.

Best for: Students

Card Validity: 5 years

Number of Currencies: 16

Fees and Charges: 

  • Issuance Fee – 300 Indian rupees (INR)
  • Reload Fee – 100 INR
  • Add-on Card Fee – 100 INR
  • Cash withdrawal: $2.25 
  • Balance inquiry: $0.5
  • Replacement card fee (Domestic): $3 
  • Replacement card fee (International): $15 
  • Cross Currency Fee – 3.5%

Pros:

  • 24-hour emergency assistance
  • Locked exchange rate: Your money on the card is unaffected by the fluctuation in the dollar exchange rate.
  • The Axis Bank Forex Card is widely accepted in all retail outlets and online retailers that accept MasterCard or Visa credit and debit cards.

Cons: 

  • Charges fees for signing up, reloading and cash withdrawals from ATMs other than those operated by Axis Bank.
  • If the card is not used for longer than 36 months, there is an inactivity fee of $5 or the indicated fee for each currency.
  • Axis bank forex cards only support a limited amount of currencies.

IndusInd Bank Multi-Currency Forex Card

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The IndusInd Bank multi-currency forex card has an embedded chip, which makes transactions secure and simple. Indusind forex card provides currency withdrawals from all VISA ATMs and currency fluctuation protection. IndusInd Multi Currency Forex card also provides add-on features, such as zero foreign markup rates.

Best for: Frequent international travelers

Card Validity: 3 years

Number of Currencies: 14

Fees and Charges:

  • Issuance fee – 300 INR
  • Cross currency fee – 3.5% markup 
  • Re-issuance of card fee – 100 INR
  • ATM cash withdrawal fee- $2
  • Reload fee – 100 INR
  • Inactivity fee – $3 per quarter after 18 months of inactivity

Pros:

  • Two free ATM withdrawals each month per currency
  • There is no extra charge on International bookings and payments for hotels, restaurants, flights, retailers and gas stations made with the travel card.
  • It offers protection given against currency fluctuations.

Cons: 

  • You cannot reload the card at foreign locations. 

Travelex Money Card

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The Travelex Money Card is a contactless prepaid forex card. Pre-loading your Travelex Money Card before a trip allows you to manage your travel budget better. You can pay for goods and services online and at physical stores worldwide. Travelex Money Card does not charge fees for international ATMs withdrawal or purchases. 

Best for: Students

Card Validity: The validity of your card is stated on the front of the card.

Number of Currencies: 10

Fees and Charges: 

  • Currency transfer fee - Foreign exchange rate applies; varies each day.
  • Foreign exchange fee - If you use your card for a transaction in a currency that is not listed on it you will be charged a 5.75% fee. This fee also applies if there is not enough money on the card to cover the transaction in the local currency, and the rest is taken from another currency.

Pros:

  • Individuals can use it anywhere Mastercard is accepted.
  • Travelex doesn't charge ATM fees.
  • If your card is lost or stolen, you can withdraw funds from your account through Western Union or Moneygram agents.

Cons: 

  • The currency rates are less favorable than those offered by other international travel forex cards.
  • It only supports a limited amount of currencies.

HSBC Everyday Global Travel Card

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The HSBC Everyday Global Travel Card provides an excellent conversion rate for U.S. dollars. When you use HSBC ATMs, you can withdraw cash without paying the 10% withdrawal fee. HSBC forex card does not charge a foreign transaction fee. When you tap and pay with payWave, Apple Pay or Google Pay, you can receive 2% cash back for transactions under $100.

Best for: Individuals traveling to or within the United States and Australia, and transferring overseas.

Card Validity: The validity of your card is stated on the front of the card. HSBC will notify you when it's time to order a new one.

Number of Currencies: 10

Fees and Charges: 

  • HSBC does not charge ATM fees, but local operators may charge additional fees or set limits.
  • Foreign currency conversion fees are calculated in different scenarios based on HSBC real-time or VISA exchange rates.

Pros:

  • Excellent USD exchange rate.
  • There are no ATM fees, foreign transactions, currency conversion costs or monthly fees.
  • Multiple currencies can be managed in a single account online or via the HSBC mobile banking app.

Cons: 

  • It only supports a limited amount of currencies.

What is a Forex Card?

A forex card is a prepaid travel card that you can preload with the foreign currency of your choice before embarking on your trip. A forex card can be used to pay for shopping and lodging expenses or to get cash from an ATM in your travel destination's local currency.

When you use a forex card, you do not have to pay a conversion fee every time you swipe the card. Forex cards provide better exchange rates than cash purchases of foreign currency. Currency fluctuations do not impact forex cards because they are preloaded at fixed exchange rates. It is a secure and simple means of holding and transacting foreign currencies.

How to Choose a Forex Card for International Travel

The following are factors to consider when selecting a forex card for international travel.

Low Exchange Rates

When you purchase a forex card and load it with the currency of your choice, it is not affected by currency fluctuations. When selecting a forex card, find out about its exchange rate and fees, as these might significantly increase your expenses. Read the exchange rate fees listed for each forex card and choose the most affordable ones that meet your requirements.

Ability to Hold Multi-Currency

A multi-currency forex card is a card that can hold several currencies. This feature is essential if you plan to visit several countries during your trip. Choose a forex card that supports the currencies of the countries you visit. This way, you won't need to plan for cash each time you pass a border or worry about exchange rate changes.

Ability to Reload Online

The forex card you select should have an online reload feature, allowing you to instantly transfer funds from your bank account. This function may come in handy if you run out of money while traveling and cannot visit a bank or wait for a fund transfer.

EVM Chip-enabled 

The most important factor to consider when getting a forex card is its security features.  Magnetic-stripe cards are vulnerable to card skimming, which allows hackers to clone and abuse them. Ensure that your currency card has an EVM chip for security. The chip's encryptions prevent attackers from using data-reading devices and technology to obtain your card information.

Special Perks

Some forex card issuers provide you with special perks, like discounts, cash back, miles and access to airport services. Find out if a forex card offers additional benefits before choosing one because doing so could help you save money and cut down on travel costs.

Cut Down on International Travel Expenses Using Forex Cards

Most forex card issuers have mobile apps that allow you to monitor your transactions online and easily reload your card when your funds run out. Forex Cards are one of the most efficient, safe and cost-effective ways to carry money when traveling internationally. Select one of the best forex cards and get easy access to making international transactions at affordable rates.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q

Is a forex card worth it?

A

Forex cards offer better exchange rates, discounts and additional features that make financing international travel easy.

Q

Do forex cards work?

A

Yes. After signing up and activating your forex card, you can use it to make purchases and payments.

Q

Is a forex card better than a debit card?

A

For international travel, a forex card is recommended because they have a better exchange rate and do not charge a conversion fee on every international transaction.

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