Are you all set for your vacation? You’ve planned your itinerary, booked your flights, reserved hotel rooms (or was it that exotic homestay?), packed your bags and even snuck in your swimsuit. All you have to do now is take off, right?
Well, there is one more thing to consider before you step out the door: how are you going to manage your money while travelling?
Gone are the days when your only options were to carry cash or traveller’s cheques. Now, you have plenty of options to choose from, such as:
- Multi-Currency forex cards
- Credit cards
- Debit cards
- Traveller’s cheques
- UPI Apps
It’s especially important to make this decision carefully so you don’t blow a hole in your pocket before you even return – that’s definitely not a sweet travel memory to cherish.
Travel smart, Transact wisely
The first and foremost concern while travelling abroad and spending in foreign currency are the various fees and charges that tag along.
Foreign transaction (Forex/FX) fee
A foreign transaction (FX) fee is usually added by your card-issuing bank when you make a transaction overseas or with a foreign merchant. This fee may run up to 3% of your transaction amount. Although paying a fee of $3 for every $100 spent might sound minuscule, these fees may add up to a hefty amount over time. Such charges are usually mentioned in the Terms and Conditions shared by your bank, so do look through them well before your travel. If ignored, you may be in for a bit of a shock at the end of your trip.
If you’re looking for an option with zero forex markup, Niyo Global is the way to go. With no forex markup, you don’t pay any extra charges ever. All transactions made with your Niyo Global multi-currency card are charged with VISA exchange rate and it works seamlessly in over 150 countries across the globe.
Dynamic currency conversion (DCC)
At the point of sale (POS) or an ATM, DCC allows your transaction amount to be converted to the currency of the card’s country of issue (in your case INR). While this convenience helps in getting a real-time idea of the amount you’d be spending in INR without having to do the math, it usually comes at a fee as high as 18%, nullifying all its benefits. This service is provided by a third party in association with the merchant and not by your bank.
To avoid paying the DCC fee (and save yourself the headache of doing the math), we highly recommend that you select to pay in the local currency of the country you are visiting rather than the currency loaded on your card (INR).
To make sure you’re always on top of the current exchange rates, the Niyo Global app also comes with an in-app real-time currency converter to help you calculate the equivalent charge in INR.
Beware of fraudsters – look around, look closer
Look around – Carrying cash vs. ATM withdrawals
As we inch towards a cashless economy, where debit/credit cards are accepted in most places, cash transactions are still unavoidable for small amounts whether because of where you’re shopping, network unavailability or technical glitches at the merchant end.
To avoid being caught in a bind, it’s good to keep some cash in hand. Having said that, we recommend avoiding currency conversion at airports or other outlets in the city you are visiting due to inflated, tourist-targeted exchange rates.
ATMs are your safest choice to withdraw cash and can get the best conversion rates. If you can, use ATMs in your bank’s network to incur the least ATM fee.
Not sure where to find an ATM in a new city? Niyo Global comes with a nifty in-app Nearby ATM locator. Should you need cash at any time during your travel, you can visit one that’s in your network. Do note that both ATM service providers and your bank charge fees for cash withdrawals. Take stock of fees and charges associated with your account and withdraw large sums at a time, because the ATM fee is charged per transaction.
Look closer – ATM shimming
Tech advances in banking have seen a rise in a new kind of theft: ATM shimming. This involves attaching devices on self-serviced gas pumps, ATMs and other machines that read and gather your card information. Some thieves even hide small cameras to capture PIN numbers from those using debit cards. These card details are further used to steal money from users accounts or they are sold on the dark web. Watchout for such devices placed on keypads or card reader slots.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid card shimming:
- Use UPI apps like Google Pay or Apple Pay if they’re an option
- Check the card reader to make sure nothing looks or feels unusual
- If possible, use busy, well-lit and well-maintained ATMs. Look for stickers or other signs that they are regularly inspected.
If you’re still worried about your card’s security, the Niyo Global app comes with state of the art security features that allow you to temporarily lock/unlock your entire card or certain payment channels. In case you lose your card, you can instantly block your card permanently, curbing misuse of your card. You can place an order for a new card later on. If you notice any fraudulent charges, you can instantly get in touch with us through the in-app support and we’ll take it further from there.
Here’s a quick recap of do’s and don’ts of handling money while travelling internationally:
- Carry multiple payment options
- Always opt for a zero forex markup card
- Don’t carry excessive amounts of cash
- Use ATMs to withdraw larger amounts in a single transaction
- Don’t exchange money at airports kiosks with high exchange rates
- Use a money belt for safekeeping while travelling, don’t stash in carry-ons
- At POS, pay in the local currency of the country you are visiting to avoid DCC
- Activate international calling on your mobile phone to get real-time transaction alerts
- Carry Travel Insurance
- Carry cards with complimentary airport lounge access
Niyo Global offers the best in class digital banking experience for globetrotters. Your Tap and Pay VISA Signature debit card integrated with an interest-earning savings account doubles up as a multi-currency, zero forex markup card that makes handling international purchases a breeze.
The unassisted 100% digital onboarding is intuitive and you’ll have your Niyo Global by SBM account in just a few minutes! Just keep your PAN and Aadhaar ready, download Niyo Global App and hop onboard right away.