Best Zero Forex Credit Cards in India – 2024

By | February 9, 2024
Best Cards for Forex Spending

International travel and cross-border online shopping have picked up pace in the last few years. Thus, we all need cards that offer the lowest forex transaction costs. In this article, we will delve into some of the best zero forex credit cards in India

Best Zero Forex Credit Cards in India

Why do you need a zero forex credit card?

When you use a credit card for payment in any currency other than INR, your card issuer will charge you a fee. Known as the Currency Conversion Charge (CCC) or forex markup fee. This is typically 3.5% + GST (i.e. 3.5% of the amount spent + 18% taxes on the markup fee = 4.13%). Thus, if you spend ₹1 lakh in foreign currency using your credit card, you end up paying an extra ₹4130 in the form of charges and taxes, which is a significant amount.

Having said that there are credit cards that can save you money on forex transactions and even give you reward points. So without further ado, let’s find out the best zero forex credit cards.

Credit Cards that give more reward points than forex charges

Below is the list of credit cards that offer enough reward points to compensate for the Forex markup they charge. A disclaimer that the cards are listed in no order of preference.

HDFC Infinia and HDFC Diners Black

HDFC Infinia

Apply HDFC Infinia Now!

Full review: HDFC Infinia and HDFC Diners Black

Joining fee/Annual Fee: HDFC Infinia – 12500+ GST; HDFC Diners Black – 10000+GST

Forex Markup: 2% markup + GST i.e. 2.36%

Reward Rate: 3.3% base reward rate. If enrolled in Global Value Program( GVP) then an additional 1% cashback

Reward Rate applicable on both Online and Offline transactions

Effective Reward Rate: 0.94% base. If enrolled in GVP then 1.94%. Thus making it one of the best zero forex credit cards in India.

Global Value Program:

The Global Value Program (GVP) is like a hidden Easter Egg within HDFC Bank. The details about this program are hidden deep within the bank’s website here. However, you can only enrol in it by calling HDFC customer care. Good thing is as per the T&Cs, all HDFC retail and business credit cards are eligible for the offer.

HDFC Global Value program is a subscription service for HDFC Credit Cards with an annual fee of ₹199 + taxes. As a welcome/renewal benefit, Global Value Program offers 500 bonus reward points. In return, the program offers 1% cashback on all forex spends (capped to ₹1,000 per month). Also, on crossing annual spends of Rs. 1.5 Lakh, the program offers Yatra vouchers worth Rs. 2,000.

HDFC Regalia, Regalia Gold and HDFC Diners Privilege

HDFC Regalia Gold Credit Card

Apply HDFC Regalia Gold Now

Full review: HDFC Regalia, HDFC Regalia Gold

Joining fee/Annual Fee: HDFC Regalia – 2500+ GST; HDFC Regalia Gold – 2500+GST

Forex Markup: 2% markup + GST i.e. 2.36%

Reward Rate: 1.3% base reward rate. If enrolled in Global Value Program( GVP) then an additional 1% cashback

Reward Rate applicable on Both Online and Offline transactions

Effective Reward Rate: Effective charge of 1.06% or 0.06% if enrolled with GVP

Axis Reserve

Axis Reserve Credit Card

Joining fee/Annual Fee: Axis Reserve – 50000+GST

Forex Markup: 1.5% markup + GST i.e. 1.77%

Reward Rate: The reserve base reward rate is 15 ER for 200 spent. Conservatively, 1ER = 0.2p i.e. 1.5%. However, it offers 2x reward points on forex spending. Thus you get a 3% reward rate on forex spends.

Reward Rate applicable on Both Online and Offline transactions

Effective Reward Rate: Savings of 1.23%. If you transfer your ER to airmiles/hotel loyalty, your reward could be higher. Thus making it one of the best zero forex credit cards in India.

Citi Prestige

Best cards for forex spending

Joining Fee/Annual Fee: 20000+GST. Not sure if one can get a fresh Citi Prestige credit card. However, one may still upgrade from an existing Citi card.

Forex Markup: 3.5% markup + GST i.e. 4.13%

Reward Rate: Citi offers 8 miles for every 100 in Forex spent.

Reward Rate applicable on Both Online and Offline transactions

Effective Reward Rate: Based on what you value your airmiles at reward rate may vary from charge of 0.13% (1mile= 50p) to reward rate of 3.87% (1mile=INR1). Thus making it one of the best zero forex credit cards in India.

Standard Chartered Ultimate

Standard Chartered Ultimate

Apply Now

Full Review: StanC Ultimate credit card

Joining Fee/Annual Fee: 5000+GST

Forex Markup: 3.5% markup + GST i.e. 4.13%

Reward Rate: 3.3% reward rate and 1.5% cashback on all forex spends

Reward Rate applicable on Both Online and Offline transactions

Effective Reward Rate: Effective reward rate comes to 0.67%. Thus making it one of the best zero forex credit cards in India.

BoB Eterna

BoB Eterna

Apply Bob Eterna Now

Joining Fee/Annual Fee: 2499+GST

Forex Markup: 2% markup + GST i.e. 2.36%

Reward Rate: 3.75% for forex spending. (5x reward points for forex spends)

Reward Rate applicable on Both Online and Offline transactions

Effective Reward Rate: Effective reward rate comes to 1.39%. Thus making it one of the best zero forex credit cards in India.

One Card

Best Cards for Forex Spendning

Apply One Card Now

Joining Fee/Annual Fee: Lifetime free credit card

Forex Markup: 1% markup + GST i.e. 1.18%

Reward Rate: 0.2%-1%

Reward Rate applicable on Both Online and Offline transactions

Effective Reward Rate: Charges of 0.18-0.98%

SBI Cashback

SBI Cashback Credit Card

Apply SBI Cashback Now

Full review: SBI Cashback Credit Card

Joining Fee/Annual Fee: 999+GST

Forex Markup: 3.5% markup + GST i.e. 4.13%

Reward Rate: 5% cashback on online transactions

Reward Rate applicable on Only Online transactions.

Effective Reward Rate: 0.87% reward rate for online transactions. Thus making it one of the best zero forex credit cards in India.

Do note that SBI Cashback gives 5% cashback for online merchants and thus it’s suited only for online forex transactions.

Tata Neu Infinity

HDFC Tata Neu Infinity

Apply Tata Rupay Card Now

Full review: Tata Neu Credit cards

Joining Fee/Annual Fee: 1499+GST

Forex Markup: 2.00% markup + GST i.e.2.36%

Reward Rate: 1.5% cashback

Reward Rate applicable on Both Online and Offline transactions.

Effective Reward Rate: 0.87% charges on forex transactions

Fi Credit Card

Sponsored Review: Fi Credit Card

Joining Fee/Annual Fee: 2000+GST

Forex Markup: 1.00% markup + GST i.e. 1.18%

Reward Rate: 0.6% reward rate

Reward Rate applicable on Both Online and Offline transactions.

Effective Reward Rate: ~0.6% charges on forex transactions

AU Zenith

Best Cards for Forex Spending

Apply AU Zenith Now!

Joining Fee/Annual Fee: 7999+GST

Forex Markup: 1.99% markup + GST i.e. 2.36%

Reward Rate: 10 reward points for every 100 of forex spend i.e 2.5% reward rate

Reward Rate applicable on Both Online and Offline transactions.

Effective Reward Rate: 0.14% reward rate on forex spend.

Amex Membership Reward Credit Card

Amex MRCC Credit Card

Apply Amex MRCC Now!

Joining Fee/Annual Fee: first year free. 1500+GST second year onwards

Full review: Amex MRCC

Forex Markup: 3.5% markup + GST i.e. 4.13%

Reward Rate: 1 MR point for every 50 of forex spent. The forex spends are counted towards the monthly 4*1500 and 20k milestones.

Reward Rate applicable on Both Online and Offline transactions.

Effective Reward Rate: 0.67% reward rate on forex spend, assuming you complete 4*1500 and 20k monthly milestone. Thus making it one of the best zero forex credit cards in India.

Amex Platinum Travel Credit Card

American Express Platinum Travel Credit Card

Apply Amex Plat Travel Now

Joining Fee/Annual Fee: First year free. 5000+GST second year onwards

Full review: Amex Platinum Travel

Forex Markup: 3.5% markup + GST i.e. 4.13%

Reward Rate: 1 MR point for every 50 on forex spent. The forex spends are counted towards the annual milestone of 400000 spends

Reward Rate applicable on Both Online and Offline transactions.

Effective Reward Rate: 0.67% reward rate on forex spend, assuming you complete 400000 annual spends and get a total of 48000 MR points. If one accounts for the TV GV too, the reward rate jumps to 3.17%. Thus making it one of the best zero forex credit cards in India.

Credit Cards with 0% forex markup

Below is the list of credit cards that offer 0 markup on forex spend.

Club Vistara Indusind Explorer

Club Vistara Indusind

Apply now

Full review: Club Vistara Indusind Explorer

Joining Fee/Annual Fee: Joining Fee: 40000+GST; Annual Fee: 10000+GST

Forex Markup: 0% markup

Reward Rate: 2CV points for every 200 of forex spent.

Reward Rate applicable on Both Online and Offline transactions.

RBL World Safari

RBL World Safari Credit Card

Full review: RBL World Safari

Joining Fee/Annual Fee: Joining Fee: 0; Annual Fee -3000+GST

Forex Markup: 0% markup

Reward Rate applicable on Both Online and Offline transactions.

IDFC First WOW! Credit Card

IDFC WOW!

Apply IDFC WOW! Now

Full review: IDFC First WOW! credit card

Joining Fee/Annual Fee: LTF

Forex Markup: 0% markup

Reward Rate applicable on Both Online and Offline transactions.

Do note that this is a secured credit card. It is issued against an FD with IDFC First Bank

Scapia Federal Credit Card

Best cards for forex spending

Apply Scapia Credit Card Now!

Joining Fee/Annual Fee: LTF

Forex Markup: 0% markup

Reward Rate applicable on Both Online and Offline transactions.

Do note that if you have an existing Federal Bank credit card, which could be with Federal or any other co-brand partner, you won’t get this card.

Niyo SBM Global Credit Card

Best Card for Forex Spending

Apply SBM Niyo 0 Forex Card Now

Joining Fee/Annual Fee: LTF

Forex Markup: 0% markup

Reward Rate applicable on Both Online and Offline transactions.

Do note that this is a secured credit card. It is issued against an FD with SBM Bank India.

Debit Cards with 0% forex markup

A few debit cards also offer zero forex markup. I suggest that you keep one such debit card with you as you would always need some cash on you when you travel. Moreover, many establishments tend to refuse credit cards but accept only debit cards.

Further, cash withdrawal thru credit cards is a very expensive affair as there will be cash withdrawal charges plus banks start charging interest on the withdrawn money right from day 1. Thus it’s always a good option to have a 0% forex markup debit card with you.

Few debit cards that I know of offer 0% forex markup are

  • Fi Debit Card
  • Jupiter Debit Card
  • Niyo DCB Debit Card
  • Indusind Exclusive Debit Card
  • Indusind Pioneer Debit Card
  • RBL Signature+ Debit Card

However, please read the debit card T&Cs carefully beforehand, as debit cards may offer 0% forex markup, but may charge hefty fees for cash withdrawal.

Further, as per LRS guidelines, do note that all forex spends on debit cards are subject to TCS at 5%. However, if your total forex spends in a financial year are less than 7lakhs, then the bank refunds this 5% within 1-2 weeks. Nonetheless, dDo account for this when you are spending/withdrawing money from your debit card. Credit cards don’t have this issue.

My experience/learnings

My learnings for the best zero forex credit cards in India based on a few international trips I did

  • Always carry at least 2 credit cards. One has to be Visa/Mastercard variant and the other can be Diners/Amex/Rupay. The reason is Diners/Amex/Rupay acceptance at times is patchy, but where ever credit cards are accepted Visa/Master will work for sure.
  • I personally carry 3 cards, Visa, Amex and Diners. I use Amex in hotels for blocking the payment or giving guarantees. I sort of trust customer care that in case of any issues they will side with me. Obviously while checkout, I settle the bill with my Visa/Diners card. J
  • Carry a debit card with international transactions enabled. Better if you have a debit card with 0% forex markup. On my last trip to Singapore, I used the Niyo DCB debit card. It offers 0% markup, with no loading fees. Even ATM withdrawals were free. Nonetheless, now the terms have changed to only 1 free ATM withdrawal per month. I still use this card and will carry it for my future foreign travels
  • Always carry some cash; it is a failsafe. The thumb rule is to carry 5-10% of the total spending that you may incur on your trip in cash. Further, from India buy USD or EUR and convert them to local currency once you are there. You get a better rate this way.
  • For e.g., once all the hotel/flight bookings are done, you may still incur say 1lk expense on your vacation. Thus carry around 150USD or say 100EUR (roughly equal to 10k or 10% of expenses). You can convert these into local currency at say 50 USD at a time. For the rest use your credit card or debit card.

Disclaimer

The above is not a comprehensive list. I have tried my best to compile an exhaustive list but high likelihood that I would have missed a few cards. Please share in the comments section, for the benefit of all, if I have missed any zero forex credit cards.

The post was published/updated on 15-Aug-2023. Image courtesy: Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash.

Disclaimer

In the interest of full disclosure, Credit Cardz may earn a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the links in this post. However, opinions and views expressed here are of the author's alone and not those of the bank, credit card issuer, or anyone else and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Author: CreditCardz

Hi, I am an avid credit card user who loves minting reward points on credit cards. I try to put every possible expense on credit card to earn maximum reward points and want realize my dream to travel the world using just rewards points.

14 thoughts on “Best Zero Forex Credit Cards in India – 2024

  1. SHASHI BHUSHAN KUNDA

    Really appreciate your research. This is a brilliant article for those who travel a lot internationally.

    Reply
  2. Vish

    Thanks for the info. Does the Niyo SBM Debit card still work? I remember there was some issue with RBI and SBM, was it resolved?

    Reply
    1. CreditCardz Post author

      No the SBM debit cards dont work for forex transactions. RBI restrictions are still place for them. However, they are only for SBM debit cards. SBM credit cards work fine.

      Reply
  3. Shabir Hamid

    If you included Regalia and DCP, you should include Magnus as well. It gives a net gain of 0.04% (2.4-2.36)

    Reply
    1. CreditCardz Post author

      Sir 0.04%? Isn’t it too just less even to consider for an annual fee for 10k or 12k depending on when you got your Magnus

      Reply
  4. sudipswriting

    Thanks for preparing this article, keep updating each year if possible, its really helpful.
    Au Zenith reward rate shall be 2% after devaluation.

    Reply
    1. CreditCardz Post author

      Yeah. Thats a newly issued card. Need to add that to comparison

      Reply
  5. Jay

    is there any card where there is no forex and no tcs that sums upto credit card which has no limits
    like see niyo credit card before had facility to do fd of 5000 and spend as much as you want by adding funds but now to spend you have to have that much amount of fd so it practically feels like spending 1lakh you need to have 2lkahs in hand

    Reply
    1. CreditCardz Post author

      TCS is levied by the card companies on order by the tax department. Thus you will not have any card issuer going against this rule. If you are eligible for a credit card say in UK/US you may take that and circumvent the TCS in India. But there may be some other rules of that country that will apply.

      Reply

Leave a Reply