7 Best Indian Credit Cards for International Travel (low Forex Markup Fees)

By | March 12, 2017

Planning on your dream foreign vacation? or spending a lot on foreign currencies online? Its time to use the right credit card for your international transactions as all such transactions has a new kind of transaction fee called Foreign Currency Markup Fee which is usually 3.5%+tax on most cards, which comes to almost 4% of the actual spend.

Best Credit Cards in India for International Travel

If you wonder how does it make a difference, its quite simple. Suppose you spend 1L on foreign currency, you end up loosing Rs.4000 (4%) as markup fee. Its one of the major source of income for banks and its time for us to get rid of it.

Best Credit Cards in India for International Transactions:

By choosing the right credit card, you will not only pay low markup fee, but also get some reward points on top of it which compensates the markup fee. Nice isn’t it? Lets look at some of the best credit cards with low foreign currency markup fee with detailed review of each. Here are some:

  1. Hdfc Infinia
  2. Citi Prestige
  3. HDFC Regalia
  4. YesFirst Exclusive
  5. YesFirst Preferred
  6. RBL Bank Icon Credit Card
  7. Indusind Legend Credit Card

#1 HDFC Infinia Credit Card

  • FCY Markup Fee: 2%+tax
  • Reward Rate: 3.3%
  • Net Gains: 1%
  • Annual fee: Rs 10,000+tax (sometimes waived)
  • Full Review: HDFC Infinia Review

HDFC Infinia Credit Card

Its one of the super premium credit cards in India and so is pretty tough to get approved for one. You can get similar gains with HDFC Diners Black credit card as well, but after visiting couple of countries, i can say that the acceptance of diners cards is incredibly low in foreign countries.

#2 Citibank Prestige Credit Card

  • FCY Markup Fee: 3.5%+tax
  • Reward Rate: 4% – 10% (Citi Gold Client)
  • Net Gains: 0%-6% (Citi Gold Client)
  • Annual fee: Rs 20,000+tax
  • Full Review: Citi Prestige Review

Citibank Prestige Credit Card

As you can see, being a Citi Gold client helps you get a better reward rate, else its almost nothing. The Citigold status can be availed by maintaining a Net Relationship Value* (NRV) of Rs. 50 Lakh for Savings/Current Account Holders.

#3 Yesbank YESFirst Exclusive Credit Card

It’s easy to get approved by Card-on-card basis these days as long as you have 5L+ Credit limit on any of your other credit cards. On top of that, its issued as Lifetime free for a limited period.

#4 Yesbank YESFirst Preferred Credit Card

It’s easy to get approved by Card-on-card basis as long as you have 2L+ Credit limit on any of your other credit cards. On top of that, its also issued as Lifetime free for a limited period. A lot of our readers has got this card 🙂

#5 HDFC Bank Regalia Credit Card

  • FCY Markup Fee: 2%+tax
  • Reward Rate: 1.3%
  • Net Gains: – 1% (loss)
  • Annual fee: Issued LTF for most
  • Full Review: HDFC Regalia Review

HDFC_business_regalia

Yes, that’s a loss of about 0.7% but much better than most other cards which will let you loose 4% or so. Its one of the most popular credit card in the industry for its name and fame of the past. It has been devalued recently, though it still carries some of the premium features to certain extent. HDFC Diners Premium also has similar markup fee, though, acceptance is the issue.

#6 RBL Bank Icon Credit Card

RBL Bank Icon Credit Card

Its a not so popular card, though gives a decent reward rate on International spend. Note that it works only when you spend around ~Rs.10,000 a month, anything more wont give you the accelerated points on Intl spend.

#7 Indusind Signature Legend Credit Card

Indusind Signature Legend Credit Card

Its one of the latest entrant in Indusind Credit Card Portfolio and comes with a decent benefit of 1.8% Markup fee for a limited period (until Dec 2017). Maynot be a perfect credit card for a typical international trip, but for those who can put the spends on weekends, can reap the maximum benefit.

Caution: The reward rate is calculated on effective utilization of the reward points you earn on the spend. If you donot redeem the points at the right time, you may loose the whole point of saving.

Love Debit cards? While these are some of the best credit cards for international use, i still prefer a debit card from Indusind which is Indusind Signature Exclusive Debit Card that has 0% markup fee, comes at a fee though. If you donot prefer to pay fees, Indusind Platinum Exclusive Debit card can help you as well, with a nice 1% markup fee.

Which is your preferred debit card for Foreign currency Transactions/International Travel? Share your thoughts in comments below.

80 thoughts on “7 Best Indian Credit Cards for International Travel (low Forex Markup Fees)

  1. Rahul

    Would you recommend using credit cards or multicurrency prepaid cards like “thomas cook borderless prepaid card”. I have to do transactions only in USD and would like to know which one is the better choice.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Yes, above cards are better than Multicurrency cards.
      Sometimes though third party forex cards are good if you deal with USD or other popular currencies.
      You just need to compare what CC you have with the respective forex card fee/charges to find the answer.

      Reply
      1. Rahul

        I have HDFC Allmiles and AmEx Membership rewards credit card (lifetime free). Can you tell me if i should go for the thomas cook card still for USD? I tried applying for regalia but they asked me to send the paper form instead of initiating over phone call which i think will be a paid upgrade.

        Reply
        1. Siddharth Post author

          Check forex card by Doorstepforex, i availed it recently and you can consider it. I heard Thomas cook cards are bit pricy.
          They need physical form for all upgrades, it maynot be a paid upgrade.

          Reply
          1. Deb

            Doorstepforex is a third party provider unlike Thomas Cook who sells its own card. Thomas Cook is definitely superior. Suggest you do a comparison for yourself.

          2. shubhankar

            I often deposit money in skrill.com which is an international wallet. I am charged 3.44 mark up fee + 1.8% GST on my icici credit card. Please suggest me a better credit card or forex card.

  2. Abhishek Roy

    YES FIRST Exclusive gives a reward rate of 2.5%. It gives 10 RP/₹100. Each point is worth ₹0.25.

    Reply
  3. Anish

    FYI – The Regalia First card also provides a 2% markup` fee.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      But its reward rate is less, that ends up in more net loss, hence not added 🙂

      Reply
  4. Gautam

    Hi, Siddharth,
    I have been using HDFC regalia credit card for 4 month now and I am liking it. But now I have to make transactions of about 6L but my credit limit is 3L only. It seems like I can’t put in upgrade request as that feature is currently not available on my account – as stated by HDFC net banking site. Is there any other way to do so?

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      You need atleast 6 months gap for Limit Enhancement Gautam.

      Reply
  5. Vivek Agrawal

    How do I check reward point breakup for my diners rewardz card(I mean to check how many points I have actually got for each transaction I made, so that I can verify if they have not missed on crediting the 10X reward points for eligible purchase)

    Reply
  6. Amandeep singh

    Rbl is upgrading my platinum maxima to icon.I have tried convincing them but they are not ready to waive the annual fee. Is it worth upgrading and does lounge(international)visits are free with complimentry PP?.As per the rep it is free.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Maybe its worth it if you spend on Intl txn’s else no.
      Priority pass membership Free (but no free visits)

      Reply
  7. Arjun Sachdeva

    Seems like someone is copying your content
    www [dot] lifenan [dot] com

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      There are ppl who does this(copy content) as their primary business. Let me try to send a notice. Thanks for notifying me.

      Reply
  8. Prashant Gupta

    Hi siddhart what abt amex cards. Are their absolute firex rate less? I may have to book tickets for $600 . Which card to use hdfc regalia or amex platinum travel.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      They have 3.5%+Tax which is higher. So better stay away from Amex cards for Forex txn’s.

      Reply
  9. Amandeep singh

    SBI elite has 1.99% foreign transaction fee but now reward rate is normal for international spending.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Yes, but that’s 0.5% loss even on “effective” usage, worser than Regalia in its current form.

      Reply
  10. Arun

    Dear sidharth
    I need a credit card for my wife . I need it because of getting free international lounge access. Since she is currently not in India , I think need to a get a credit card against fixed deposit. Will you please help to find a credit card. Thanks a lot

    Reply
  11. Arun

    Thanks sidharth
    Can you tell how much minimum need to put in fd for getting this card please.

    Reply
  12. Arun

    To get hdfc regalia , how much minimum amount required on fixed deposit.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      I think 4L-5L would do. Visit your HDFC branch.

      Reply
    1. Anoop

      I deposited 4 lakh and got 3 lakh credit limit, now I have requested to cancel my Regalia and asked my wife to apply add on Regalia for me to use her card’s shared lounge access 🙂 You may consider applying Yes Bank First Preferred card and need 3 lakh deposit and you can get 75 % of credit limit. Yes Bank offers 1.75 FCY and 4 international lounge access + 3 domestic lounge access/ quarter. I applied for the Yes bank CC couple of days back and will keep my HDFC FD, so that I can apply for Regalia after 6 months from the cancellation date.

      Reply
  13. Siddhartha Pakrasi

    Hi Siddharth, saw your blog and picked up HDFC Infinia and Yes First Exclusive cards for my upcoming visit to Europe. In addition to the Forex markup fee levied by the credit card issuing bank I am told there is a Forex conversion surcharge of around 3% levied by MasterCard/ Visa as well. Is this true ?

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      No, its very less, usually 1% or so.
      I’ve verified this many times and the numbers are matching very very close as on XE[dot]com

      Reply
    2. Abhishek Roy

      You don’t have to be worried about what what Visa and MasterCard will charge. All you pay is 2% + ST +SC+KVC which roughly comes down to 2.5%, in case of Infinia/Regalia/Diners Black/Diners Premium. For Yes First Excusive, all you pay is 1.75% +ST+SC+KVC which roughly comes down to 2.22%. If any agent or customer care officer tells anything else, they are misinformed. Have checked and verified this info myself on a lot of occasions. Those 2% and 1.75% Mark Up fees contains the 1% or less charge that the Franchisee(VISA/MasterCard/Diners) Charges.

      Reply
  14. Prashant Gupta

    Service tax and other levies total to 15% I think so total charges should be 2%+15% i.e. 2.30%

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Yes, i’ve taken that into ac in most cases 🙂

      Reply
  15. Siddhartha Pakrasi

    Great, thanks a lot. Must say that you have some great stuff on your blog. 👍🏻

    Reply
  16. Harwinder

    I have SBI visa credit card. I want to an international fee in CAD, but my card is not activated for international usage. What do I do now. How much time bank takes to grant activation?
    Thnks

    Reply
  17. Prashant Gupta

    It can be activated through netbanking or by calling customer care.

    Reply
  18. Riyaskhan

    hdfc offer GLOBAL VALUE, in which we get 1% cashback for international transaction subject to maximum of 1000 rs per statement cycle. it is great benefit if we use regalia or infinia which have only 2% markup fees.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Interesting. Did you get a separate mail on it?

      Reply
      1. Riyaskhan

        it was one of the feature when I apply for a card 2 years before. This is applicable for all hdfc credit catds. we can activate it by calling customercare. But It was come up with a annual charge of Rs.199. Luckily I never charged. I’m not sure why this is free for me. But still I am getting 1% cashback for all my international or foreign currency transactions.

        Reply
  19. Prashant Gupta

    Hi,
    this is what i got from HDFC website

    Presenting a world of exclusive benefits with GLOBAL VALUE. Enroll for the program on your HDFC Bank Credit Card and avail a host of amazing benefits when you use your card for international purchases.
    Features
    1. Welcome / Renewal Benefit – 500 Bonus Reward Points on 1st International transaction. This feature is available once in a year.
    2. Cashback Benefit – 1% Cashback on all International transactions (upto Rs. 1,000/- per statement cycle).
    3. Milestone Benefit – Get Rs. 2,000/- worth Yatra voucher once you accumulate International spends of Rs. 1,50,000/- in a year. This feature is available once in a year.
    Program Fee
    Annual / Renewal Fee – Rs. 199/-
    Registration Process
    Simple, just call our 24×7 customer service number to place your request.
    After your request is processed we will enable GLOBAL VALUE program on your credit card and you can start enjoying the benefits.
    Service Activation
    Your request will be processed within 5 working days.
    The service activation confirmation will be communicated to you through SMS (on the registered mobile no.) and through Letter (on the registered mailing address)
    Points to Note
    This program is available for the following retail credit cards – Gold, Titanium, Platinum Plus, Signature, World, Titanium Edge, Platinum Edge, Solitaire, Solitaire Premium, Superia, Regalia and Infinia.
    Welcome Benefit would be credited within 60 days of first international transaction, post enrolling for the program.
    Milestone Benefit – Yatra voucher would be sent within 30 days of achieving International spends of Rs. 1,50,000/- in a year.
    The maximum cashback would be Rs. 1,000/- per statement cycle under the benefit.
    Cancellation policy – If this facility is cancelled at any point of time, the program fee already charged for the year will not be reversed.
    Service Tax and Education Cess will be additionally applicable on the program fee
    *****************************************
    In last 2 months i had done almost Rs.1.5L forex transaction. Had i know earlier i would have saved some money.

    Reply
  20. Vivek Tyagi

    Hi,

    Could anyone help me with the suggestion for an international travel card with Minimum interest and FX exchange rates. I am flying to Australia in the month of September and need quick suggestion which card to opt for to do the transactions.

    Thanks in advance for your suggestion.

    Reply
  21. Ankur Mittal

    Anyone got this Global Value activated ? I called HDFC and they told it’s an old offer.

    Reply
  22. Gaurav J

    I have held Citibank Prestige card for past 2 years now and have managed to rack up close to 200,000 air miles in this timeframe.
    Although Citibank cards have a slightly higher FCY rate, the generous air miles program as well as wide range of partner airlines and hotels make it a great choice for those who travel frequently.

    I have also been using Amex Centurion Card (Black Card) for the past 3 years now. This card is exorbidently expensive with a 2.5 lac annual fee. It does come with immense benefits for those who are travelling internationally very frequently – however the much hyped concierge service is quite pathetic in India. Other countries have a far better concierge service for similar pricing.

    Reply
    1. Anoop

      I have just received Citi Prestige card from Singapore and I am very happy with the unlimited priority pass lounge access for primary card holder and a guest. Have you ever booked hotels using their concierge services ? Is it possible to know the list of hotels and rates like any other booking sites when using the concierge service ? Also, do you know any special category where I can earn more miles ?

      Thanks/ Anoop

      Reply
  23. Ninja Agarwal

    Hi Mr. Siddharth…obviously can’t proceed without mentioning that your content gives a definite insight into the various credit cards…so thank you for that but i did have a question…So i am due to apply for an Hdfc credit card with travel rewards, air miles and international travel and dining as the main focus and was wondering when you mentioned in regalia that diners black also has the same perks but acceptance is a problem so what did that mean ?

    Reply
  24. AMIT

    Which is the best credit card to make foreign transactions online?
    I’ll be applying in some international universities, so it would be great if you can please suggest a card that has minimum extra charges?

    Reply
  25. Mihir

    You should mention HDFC’s Globe Value program, which gives additional 1% cashback on all international spends.

    Reply
  26. Abir Mukherjee

    Hi Siddartha,
    Great content you have. I am a frequent international traveller to the APAC countries. Have a priority pass courtesy HDFC Regalia but almost exhausted the free visits (reduced to 6 now). Can I take another credit card which provides free priority card along with Free visits. Are 2 priority pass possible for a same person?
    Correspondingly, HDFC is ok to upgrade me to Diners Black, however I am a little skeptical due to the low acceptance of Diners in Foreign markets. Also not sure what happens to the points. I have close to 32000 Points in Regalia. Please suggest Options.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Diners Black not suggested if you’re using it as primary card. But i guess you might be eligible for the Infinia as well. Check with the RM.

      Reply
  27. Abir Mukherjee

    With a monthly take home of around 2.5 Lacs, what are the credit card options for travel, mainly looking for Free priority pass with Free visits.

    Reply
    1. Ritika Sharma

      This information is very useful Siddhartha. I hope I had got this information before applying for the card, taking decision would have been easier. After evaluating my options, I narrowed down to buying forex card from Centrum Forex. I liked their card as it was widely accepted and their services were super quick.

      Reply
  28. Ana

    Which credit card would you suggest, if I make foreign currency transactions online. I do not travel much but I have to make business payments by credit card online. I am losing a lot of money through markup fees. I have just started my business so volume is very low.

    Reply
  29. Ajit

    Hi Sidddharth,

    Thanks for the useful info. You must amend your blog & include Stanchart’s Ultimate card. It does have 2% FX markup & 5 reward points for Rs 150/- spent.

    Reply
  30. vyom aggarwal aggarwal

    hdfc diners black is the best card for foreign use currently, although acceptance is really low, but the mark up fees is 2 % + taxes and you get reward points of 3.33%.
    In addition to that you get 1% cashback for global value and 10x reward points which take your benefits to whooping 32%

    Reply
  31. jitendra kumar saraogi

    please suggest best credit card excluding diners for going to Bangkok in this month.
    thanks in advance.

    Reply
    1. Sharathkumar Anbu

      Hi Jitendra,

      In most of the places in Bangkok or Thailand, they won’t accept cards even if they accept many shops charge 4% extra. They will try to recover the merchant discount rate from the payer itself.

      I recommend to go with IndusInd Exclusive Visa Signature debit card which doesn’t have any mark up for international transactions.

      Mastercard gives better mark up rate compared to Visa but shops like Seven Eleven accept only Visa.

      Xe.com 1 THB = 2.08 INR

      Master card 1 THB = 2.083 INR

      Visa 1 THB = 2.105 INR

      Also please note Thailand Banks charge 220 Baht for cash withdrawal. Also don’t use their currency conversion to get charged in INR, always charge in Baht.

      Reply
  32. Meghal

    Hi Siddarth,
    I have Diners Black and HDFC Infinia card. I travel a lot internationally and use these cards. Each time I get a Forex mark up fee of some absolute amount. Can you tell me whats the % mark up fee charged on these cards. Once this mark up fees are charged, is forex exchange rate very competitive ( as per what we see on google as daily exchange rate) or you see a difference in that also and hence an indirect fee being paid on that account. Appreciate your views on the same, thanks

    Reply
  33. jitendra kumar saraogi

    if standard ultimate card is better than yes preferred card for international travel?
    will appreciate a quick response.
    thanks.

    Reply
    1. Amann

      Hi Jitendra

      YFP and YFE are better than ultimate for international travel for 2 reasons:

      1. Forex markup is 1.75%+gst for yes vs 3.5 +gst – 1.5 cashback for ultimate. Also MasterCard usually gives better Forex rates than Visa as well as Mastercard lounge access programme at Indian airports has more options..

      2. Priority pass visits: 4 free with YFP a year/ unlimited for YFE vs 1 per month provided 20k has been spent in previous calender month.

      Reward rate is better in Ultimate (@3.3%) but you will get no reward points for international spends as you are already getting 1.5% cashback on markup.

      Reply
      1. AshishR

        Are you sure no RP for international spends on SCB ultimate card?

        this is mentioned on the SCB website
        “Earn 5 reward points on every INR 150 spent and get maximum benefit with 1 reward point equal to Re 1”

        Reply
        1. Amann

          Quoting Abhishek Roy’s comment on Ultimate card review:

          “They have mentioned in their terms and conditions that there is a 2% mark up fees on foreign transaction. Actually that is not true. They will charge you 3.5% as mark fees when you will make the payment. Later on they will reverse 1.5% mark up fees, effectively making the markup fees as 2%!! They ave also mentioned that since they will be issuing cashback of 1.5% hence those transactions are not eligible for Reward Points. Hence you get actually no value on spending in foreign currency with your card. I am quite sure that even though they’ll reverse the 1.5% mark up fees but they’ll not reverse the extra taxes that they’ll charge on that 3.5%. So effectively, you pay more than all High value cards like Infinia, Diner Black, Yes First Card and Citi Prestige. You end up paying more mark fees considering the non reversal of the taxes on that extra 1.5% mark up fees and you will not get reward points on those transactions. …….”

          Reply
    2. Jay

      Yes!! SCB Ultimate is the Best Card for International Travel however if you have DCB then as of now it has got the value proposition for International Usage due to their 10X Points. But make a note even though DCB has 2% FX Charges they intend to have a more currency conversion rate compared to VISA or Master. Hence I would suggest SCB Ultimate

      Reply
  34. jitendra kumar saraogi

    thanks for your prompt responses.
    i hope yes preferred card gives reward points @2% for international transactions as well.
    please confirm.

    Reply
    1. Kiran

      Hi,

      Yes you do get RP in YFP for your international spends.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Kiran

      Reply
  35. Md Irfan

    Hi Siddharth

    I have the following credit cards:
    HSBC Advance
    HSBC Platinum
    HDFC Moneyback
    Indusind Platinum
    Stanchart Manhattan

    Which of these card is the best for foreign exchange?

    Reply
  36. VICKY

    hi,
    Off the topic

    But can you suggest best travel insurance plan WHICH provides cover for:-

    Trip Cancellation for any reason i.e. to say if for any reason whatsoever, I cancel my trip, the insurance company compensates for loss of flight tickets charges and hotel non-refundable booking charges in full.

    The plans are available abroad but any such plan being provided by indian companies>

    Regards

    Reply
  37. Sharathkumar Anbu

    Siddharth,

    I believe there is a mistake in calculation for citi prestige card. When spent internationally, Citi gives 2 reward points per 100 which is equal to 8 air miles, Hence 8% reward rate. Net gain would be 4%

    So Citi prestige is the clear winner

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Citigold / Citigold Private Clients gets 30% more points, hence calculated based on that.

      Reply
      1. Sharathkumar Anbu

        You have mentioned 0% for normal person. That’s not the case I am telling.

        Reply
  38. vicky

    hi,
    Can one apply for a Uk or USA credit card from India.
    If yes, can you also please tell the formalities to be completed.

    Regards

    Reply

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