Are you a frequent traveler abroad and are constantly concerned about the currency you are carrying with you? Well you needn’t be anymore. Here are Prepaid Travel Cards which serve as a great alternative to carrying currency, whether you are on a business or a pleasure trip. A hassle free and secure card, they offer unmatched global convenience. You wouldn’t really need to stack up those travelers’ cheques and currency notes in your baggage anymore. So leave your worries behind, and just enjoy your trip.
The Prepaid Travel Card- How does it Work?
As the very name suggests, the prepaid travel card, is one in which you load the currency of your choice, at the time of its purchase, prior to your travel. During the course of your travel, the card could be used for overseas cash withdrawals at ATMs, or to swipe at merchant establishments.
The card could be used up to the amount that has been loaded on it, and with each transaction that is made, the value on the card decreases. It could be used till the availability of funds on it. In case you are travelling to more than one country on a single trip, you would need to ask the bank to issue more than one card to you, in different currencies, within the overall RBI approved limits for the trip. It is not possible to load more than one currency on a single card. For cash withdrawals at ATMs, the card would dispense the local currency. Say for example, you have loaded US Dollar on the card, and are using it in Europe, the local currency (Euros) would be dispensed and Visa conversion charges from USD to Euro will be applied.
Key Features of a Travel Card
- Reduces the burden of carrying large amounts of forex during travel.
- Works out as a cost effective option in comparison to regular international debit/credit cards, which charge up to 3.5% of the transacted amount.
- Cards are mostly reloadable with currency for additional requirements.
- Some banks offer a locked in exchange rate benefit that prevent exchange rate fluctuations.
- The cards are backed by either MasterCard or the Visa, making them widely accepted across the globe.
- Availability of online access of transaction and balance details.
- Some banks offer additional benefits such as multiple insurance benefits including personal accident, loss of travel documents etc…
Documents Required for a Travel Card
Banks issue travel cards to both their existing customers as well as to non customers, on producing the following documents.
- Copy of passport/Visa
- Copy of confirmed tickets
- Copy of PAN card / Form 60
- Form A2 – Statement of purpose of your visit
- Declaration that you haven’t exceeded your $10,000 yearly foreign exchange quota.
To purchase a travel card, you would need to pay the bank in Indian Rupees. Charges are deducted for this facility by the bank. The amount in foreign currency is then loaded on to the card, at the prevailing exchange rate as on the date of purchase.
Travel Cards are generally valid for five years. Any unutilized balance on the card could be encashed in Indian rupees before the expiry of the card, at the exchange rate prevailing on the date of encashment.
Charges Applicable on the Card
The following charges are levied by banks issuing travel cards. Such charges vary from bank to bank.
- Card Issuance Charge: Anywhere between Rs. 110 to Rs. 250
- Reload Charges: Any further currency reloading charges range between Rs. 50 to Rs. 100 per reload.
- ATM Withdrawals: Around USD 1.50 to USD 2.00 per withdrawal. There is however no charges on using the card at merchant establishments.
Foreign Exchange Limit on the Card
The Reserve Bank of India has stipulated a limit of USD 10,000 on foreign exchange for personal international travel and up to Rs 25, 000 if it is an international business travel. This limit holds good for prepaid travel cards too.
Travel Cards Available in the Market
Almost all major banks offer travel cards. Here is a quick snapshot of a few of them