International travel is witnessing a steady yet enthusiastic revival after an unprecedented slump from 2020-2021. With all major countries of the world opening up their borders for leisure and business tourism and welcoming international students with open arms since the beginning of 2022, the global traffic of international travelers has increased, bringing new tourism trends and patterns.
For example, business and leisure travel is skyrocketing at an unforeseen speed, as a survey reveals that one in four business travelers plan to combine their professional travel with a few days of leisure and fun in the near future. Likewise, other trends of sustainable tourism, solo tripping, and cashless travel are also flourishing. A recent development in the global tourism scenario has been the advent of travel cards. They offer many benefits to their customers, thereby becoming the go-to companion for globetrotters and international students.
Despite their recent popularity, many international travel cards have propped up in the market, each claiming to be the best. However, such an abundance of choices makes decision-making daunting for people. However, some little knowledge goes a long way, and that is precisely what we will be covering in this article – the best travel cards in the current market.
What is a Travel Card? What are its Benefits?
Travel cards are the prepaid electronic cards wherein you can load one or more foreign currencies for transactions on your next international trip. It is one of the most convenient methods of carrying foreign currency and paying for expenses on an overseas trip. You can think of the international card as the quintessential Credit or Debit card whose purpose is restricted to facilitating foreign currency transactions. However, nowadays, we can find International Debit Cards that can be used for domestic money transfers and other travel benefits too. Lastly, travel cards also permit money withdrawal abroad via ATMs. Some of the common benefits of a top-tier international cards are –
- Zero Foreign Transaction Fee –When you make payments in a foreign currency with your credit or debit card, the concerned bank charges a forex markup fee on the total transaction, which ranges from 3 percent to 5.95 percent. However, you can avoid such overhead expenses by opting for a reliable card. Simply put, an international card helps you save hard-earned money in all foreign currency transactions, such as flight bookings, hotel reservations, tuition fees, etc.
- Global Acceptance – Most cards seamlessly operate in the majority of countries. For instance, the right international card will allow you to load up INR before your journey and then auto-convert the INR into the local currency of your international destination. After that, you can use the card to withdraw money from ATMs or to pay at VISA-accepting merchants.
- Zero Balance Savings Account – The account attached to your international travel cards permits zero balance. Ideally, you should not be mandated to maintain a specified monthly balance on your global card at all times.
- Security – Any international travel card is not worth your time if its security features are not up to the mark. The best global debit cards come with lock/unlock/block card options. For instance, the global card you choose should let you temporarily block the entire card or individual payments, such as ATM withdrawals, contactless payments, card swipes, etc., for enhanced safety and confidentiality.
- Support Services – Last but not least, the international debit card you opt for should provide personalized services, such as assistance through the immigration queue, help with baggage, and likewise. In addition, another vital element is the availability of 24/7 customer support services. If you need assistance with your account anytime during your travels, you should be able to reach the concerned personnel of your card immediately.
- Helps Keep Balance in Check – Keeping a timely check on your spending is vital to ensure you do not exceed the budget. International travel cards offer real-time expense tracking through which you evaluate all your international transactions. In addition, you can turn the notifications on for all your card purchases via SMS or email.
- Exchange Rate Lock-in – The card should have an exchange rate lock-in feature, implying that your precious money is protected. When you load a multi-currency foreign card using a trusted online forex platform, the money is loaded at a fixed rate that cannot be changed. As the rates are locked in, you are shielded against currency fluctuations. For instance, if you have loaded USD 1000 in your Forex card, its value will remain the same irrespective of alterations in the INR-USD exchange rate. The lock-in feature is a massive relief to international travelers.
Now that we know what a card is and its benefits let us look at the best travel cards for international tourists.
Best Travel Cards for International Tourists in 2022
1. Best Card for Travel and Dining Privileges: HDFC Bank Superia Credit Card
The HDFC Bank Superia Credit Card is a premium travel cards with excellent benefits across dining, travel, fuel, and shopping. It also offers reward points for every purchase you make and a welcome bonus offer. Some of its benefits for international travelers include the following –
- A welcome offer of 1000 reward points
- A minimum of four monthly transactions will get you free Accidental Death Coverage, Fire, and Burglary Protection.
- The annual fee is waived if you spend INR 15000 within the first three months.
- You can use the accumulated reward points in your HDFC Superia Card to purchase tickets at more than 20 international airlines through the KrisFlyer – Singapore Airlines Frequent Flyer Program.
- You can also redeem the points for AirMiles to purchase tickets from Airindia.
- The HDFC Bank Superia Credit Card provides a fuel surcharge of 1 percent for minimum transactions of INR 400.
- The card also provides 50 percent more reward points when you dine and use it for the billing process.
- The reward points are valid for two years from the date of accumulation.
2. Best Travel Cards for Bookings with AirIndia: Air India SBI Signature Credit Card
If you are an avid traveler of AirIndia, and it is your go-to platform for most flight bookings, then SBI’s AirIndia Signature Card will be your best bet. Its features include the following –
- You enjoy a welcome gift of 20000 reward points on paying the joining fee of the card
- The AirIndia SBI Signature Card delivers airfare and railway tickets to your doorstep.
- You enjoy complimentary access to more than 6000 Luxury Airport Lounges
- You get two complimentary Visa Lounge Access at two domestic airports per quarter
- The card offers a fuel waiver of 1 percent on purchases worth NR 500 to 4000 at all petrol pumps
- You get 30 reward points for every INR 100 spent on Air India tickets
- 1 point = 1 Air India air mile.
3. Best Overall global Card: Niyo Global
The third card on our list of the best travel cards is Niyo Global. It is an international Debit card that allows you to store and transfer money electronically when traveling abroad. You can utilize the card to make payments or purchase goods and services in a foreign location. In addition, you can also use the card to withdraw foreign currency loaded into them from ATMs abroad. The top-tier features of the Niyo Global card are –
- Niyo Global is one of the few selected travel cards that provides airport lounge access to its customers.
- Niyo Global comes with zero forex markups. Thus, all your foreign currency transactions, such as flight bookings, hotel reservations, tuition fees, etc., become cost-efficient. You save anywhere from 3 percent to 5.95 percent on your transactions abroad.
- Niyo Global will help you load up INR before your journey and then auto-convert the INR into 22 currencies. In addition, you can use Niyo Global in 150+ countries in the world.
- You can open your Niyo Global International Debit account easily and quickly. After you place the order, you can expect the card to arrive in the next seven business days. The best part is that you can begin online transactions with Niyo as soon as you open the account.
- The account attached to your Niyo Card permits zero balance. Ideally, you should not be mandated to maintain a specified monthly balance on your global card at all times.
- With a savings account with 5% annual interest, your digital account at Niyo will grow while you travel and indulge in the luxuries of international travel.
- Niyo also offers travel insurance worth INR 5 Lakh to its customers.
So, there we have it, a comprehensive overview of the top three travel cards for globetrotters.
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