reviews,

Best Credit Cards in India with low Forex Currency Markup for International Travel & Spends

Pranav Pranav Follow Oct 05, 2019 · 11 mins read · 0 comments
Best Credit Cards in India with low Forex Currency Markup for International Travel & Spends

All set for your dream foreign vacation, but worried about your spends on credit cards due to high foreign currency markup fees? Worry no more as in this article, I am listing best credit cards with low foreign currency markup available in India.

Those who are not aware, if you spend in currency other than Indian Rupees, banks charge you a foreign currency mark up fee. This fee is as high as 3.5% + GST (~4.13%) for some credit cards. It means, if you spend Rs. 1 Lakh in foreign currency, you end up paying close to Rs. 4,130 just as foreign currency markup fees which quite a significant amount.

1. HDFC Bank Infinia Credit Card

HDFC Infinia Credit Card
  • Foreign Currency Markup: 2% + GST (2.36%)
  • Reward Rate: 3.3%
  • Net Gains: 0.94% (1.94% if enrolled in to Global Value Program for spends up to Rs. 1,00,000 in a month)
  • Joining/Annual Fee: Rs. 10,000 + GST, reward points of equivalent value are provided
  • Other Benefits:
    • Unlimited international airport lounge access to primary as well as add-on card members
    • 2X reward points on dining spends including international
    • 1% cashback (limited to Rs. 1,000 per month) on international transactions using Global Value Program (annual fee of Rs. 199)

HDFC Bank Infinia Credit Card is for the elitist and is invite only card. You need to have a high NRV with HDFC Bank to receive this card.

2. HDFC Diners Club Black Credit Card

HDFC Diners Club Black Credit Card
  • Foreign Currency Markup: 1.99% + GST (2.35%)
  • Reward Rate: 3.3%
  • Net Gains: 0.95% (1.95% if enrolled in to Global Value Program for spends up to Rs. 1,00,000 in a month)
  • Joining/Annual Fee: Rs. 10,000 + GST
  • Other Benefits:
    • Unlimited international airport lounge access to primary card member
    • 1% cashback (limited to Rs. 1,000 per month) on international transactions using Global Value Program (annual fee of Rs. 199)
    • 6 Complimentary Golf games (Green fee waiver) per quarter around 18 golf courses in India and 144 golf courses around world

HDFC Diners Club Black Credit Card is a super premium credit card and is easier to get than Infinia. Though the acceptance of Diners Club cards is very good India, it’s acceptance in foreign countries is still questionable. Carry a backup Visa/MasterCard along to be on safer side.

3. Yes First Exclusive Credit Card

Yes First Exclusive Credit Card
  • Foreign Currency Markup: 1.75% + GST (2%)
  • Reward Rate: 1.5% to 3%
  • Net Gains: -0.5% to 1%
  • Joining/Annual Fee: Rs. 10,000 + GST, reward points of equivalent value are provided
  • Other Benefits:
    • Unlimited international airport lounge access to primary as well as add-on card members

Yes First Exclusive Credit Card has lower foreign currency markup than most Indian credit cards, however with recent reduction in reward rate, it has lost its sheen. But still it’s a good card for foreign spends owing to low foreign currency markup fee.

4. Citi Prestige Credit Card

Citi Prestige Credit Card
  • Foreign Currency Markup: 3.5% + GST (4.13%)
  • Reward Rate: 4% to 8%
  • Net Gains: -0.13% to 3.87%
  • Joining/Annual Fee: Rs. 20,000 + GST, vouchers/air miles of equivalent value are provided
  • Other Benefits:
    • Complimentary 4th night stay at selected hotels, twice in a year
    • Unlimited international airport lounge access to primary as well as add-on card members
    • 25% off on Meet & Assist service and 20% off on airport transfer to or from airport in APAC
    • Elevated status on loyalty programs of British Airways & Taj Group

Citi Prestige Credit Card is advisable only for those who can maximize the value from air miles. If you are not in to this, you won’t be able to get maximum value from this card.

5. ICICI Bank Emeralde Credit Card (Amex)

ICICI Bank Emeralde Credit Card
  • Foreign Currency Markup: 1.5% + GST (1.77%)
  • Reward Rate: 1%
  • Net Gains: -0.77%
  • Joining/Annual Fee: Rs. 12,000 + GST
  • Other Benefits:
    • Unlimited international airport lounge access
    • Unlimited Spa Access via Dreamfolks Dragonpass Card
    • Unlimited complimentary access to Boingo Wi-Fi across the globe

Though ICICI Bank Emeralde Credit Card has poor reward rate, other benefits outweigh it, especially during international travel. This credit card has lowest foreign currency markup in India at present. Spa and Wi-Fi access is something very unique which makes this card stand out from the crowd.

6. HDFC Diners Club Privilege Credit Card

HDFC Diners Club Privilege Credit Card
  • Foreign Currency Markup: 1.99% + GST (2.35%)
  • Reward Rate: 1.3%
  • Net Gains: -1.05% (-0.05% if enrolled in to Global Value Program for spends up to Rs. 1,00,000 in a month)
  • Joining/Annual Fee: Rs. 2,500 + GST
  • Other Benefits:
    • 12 complimentary airport lounge access per year including domestic and international
    • Airport lounge access is complimentary for primary as well add-on card members
    • 1% cashback (limited to Rs. 1,000 per month) on international transactions using Global Value Program (annual fee of Rs. 199)
    • 2 Complimentary Golf games (Green fee waiver) per quarter around 18 golf courses in India and 144 golf courses around world

HDFC Diners Club Privilege Credit Card is relatively a newer card in the market which comes with host of monthly and yearly milestone benefits. International acceptance of Diners Club Cards is not so great and it’s advisable to carry a backup Visa/MasterCard.

7. HDFC Regalia Credit Card

HDFC Regalia Credit Card
  • Foreign Currency Markup: 2% + GST (2.36%)
  • Reward Rate: 1.3%
  • Net Gains: -1.06% (-0.06% if enrolled in to Global Value Program for spends up to Rs. 1,00,000 in a month)
  • Joining/Annual Fee: Rs. 1,000 + GST, usually waived off
  • Other Benefits:
    • 6 international airport lounge access per year using Priority Pass
    • 1% cashback (limited to Rs. 1,000 per month) on international transactions using Global Value Program (annual fee of Rs. 199)
    • International Airport lounge access is complimentary for primary as well add-on card members

HDFC Regalia Credit Card is one of the most popular credit cards from HDFC Bank. It can cover your entire forex markup fee if enrolled in Global Value Program.

8. Standard Chartered Ultimate Credit Card

Standard Chartered Ultimate
  • Foreign Currency Markup: 3.5% + GST (4.13%)
  • Reward Rate: 3.3% (normal) + 1.5% (cashback) = 4.8%
  • Net Gains: 0.67%
  • Joining/Annual Fee: Rs. 5,000 + GST
  • Other Benefits:
    • 1 international airport lounge access free per month using Priority Pass if card spend in the last month exceeds Rs. 20,000
    • Cashback of 5% at duty free store limited to Rs. 1,000 per month

Though Standard Chartered Ultimate Credit Card has this weird clause of monthly spend for airport lounge access, the high reward rate can save you some bucks.

9. American Express Platinum Card

American Express Platinum Card
  • Foreign Currency Markup: 3.5% + GST (4.13%)
  • Reward Rate: 3.75% (on foreign spends)
  • Net Gains: -0.38%
  • Joining/Annual Fee: Rs. 60,000 + GST
  • Other Benefits:
    • Unlimited access to Amex airport lounges across the globe, Centurion lounge access too
    • Unlimited international airport lounge access to primary as well as add-on card members using Priority Pass
    • Elevated status on loyalty programs of Marriott, Hilton, Taj & Radisson

American Express Platinum Card comes with host of perks and benefits and is a must have for luxury travel. If you are in to luxury travel and are able to extract more value than fees paid, go for it blindly.

10. Axis Bank Magnus Credit Card

Axis Bank Magnus Credit Card
  • Foreign Currency Markup: 2% + GST (2.36%)
  • Reward Rate: 1.2%
  • Net Gains: -1.16%
  • Joining/Annual Fee: Rs. 10,000 + GST
  • Other Benefits:
    • 8 complimentary VIP Assistance Services
    • 8 complimentary international airport lounge access (card member + guest), 4 more on spending Rs. 7 Lakh or more using Priority Pass
    • Unlimited domestic lounge access using MasterCard lounge program

Axis Bank Magnus Credit Card though isn’t effective in recovering the cost of forex markup, it does provide some perks like VIP Assistance Services and international airport lounge access to guests which can make your international travel pleasant.

Bonus: Niyo Global Card

Niyo Global Card
  • Foreign Currency Markup: 0%
  • Reward Rate: 0%
  • Net Gains: 0%
  • Joining/Annual Fee: Nil

Niyo Global Card is a pre-paid card which comes with zero foreign currency markup fee and Visa exchange rate are applicable for foreign currency transactions. It’s an INR card, which can be used globally (150+ countries), including in India and card can be loaded via any bank account using IMPS/NEFT without any charges. Undoubtedly, it’s one of the best cards for foreign spends at the moment and can very well serve as your back up card where your credit card is not accepted. You can apply online for this card using my referral link below:

Apply Now

Using above link, both of us will get Rs. 500 on doing first international POS transaction of Rs. 1,000, which is not available otherwise.

Bottomline

Below table summarizes the reward rate for all cards listed above:

Credit Card Foreign Currency Markup + GST Reward Rate* Net Gains
HDFC Bank Infinia Credit Card 2.36% 4.3% 1.94%
HDFC Diners Club Black Credit Card 2.35% 4.3% 1.95%
Yes First Exclusive Credit Card 2% 1.5% to 3% -0.5% to 1%
Citi Prestige Credit Card 4.13% 4% to 8% -0.13% to 3.87%
ICICI Bank Emeralde Credit Card (Amex) 1.77% 1% -0.77%
HDFC Diners Club Privilege Credit Card 2.35% 1.3% -0.05%
HDFC Regalia Credit Card 2.36% 1.3% -0.06%
Standard Chartered Ultimate Credit Card 4.13% 4.8% 0.67%
American Express Platinum Card 4.13% 3.75% -0.38%
Niyo Global Card 0% 0% 0%

* Maximum Reward Rate

Though you can rely on credit cards, I would still suggest to carry some foreign currency with you for emergency situations. Also always choose to pay in local currency instead of on the fly conversion to INR at point of sales terminal. Though on the fly conversion gives you a piece of mind by showing exact amount you’re spending in INR, it generally adds extra charges.

Which is your preferred credit card for foreign travel and spends? Let me know in comments below.

Join Newsletter
Get the latest post right in your inbox. We never spam!
Pranav
Written by Pranav Follow
Hi, I am Pranav! I love to acquire, review and earn reward points/cashback from Credit Cards. Guiding people about benefits and optimal utilization of credit cards for years.
Attractive Offer on Standard Chartered Manhattan Credit Card
  • One of the best all-rounder lifestyle credit cards
  • 5% cashback on supermarkets and departmental stores
  • 3x reward points per Rs. 150 spent on other categories
  • 15% discount at over 850 restaurants*
  • Rs. 200 instant discount at Grofers every Thursday*
  • 25% discount on Movie tickets at Inox on weekends
  • 10% discount on food & beverages at Inox on weekends
  • Renewal fee waiver on spending Rs. 1.2 Lakhs in a year*
Apply Now
* T&CA, Limited Period Offer
Read next

HDFC Bank Regalia vs Diners Club Privilege Credit Card: A comparison

I have been asked umpteen times that between HDFC Bank Regalia and Diners Club Privilege Credit Card, which one is better? Give...

Reviews, HDFC, Mar 28, 2020