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Is It Cheaper to Exchange Money at Airport or Forex Card

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As a traveller, is it better to carry cash or a forex card? This question might have popped up in your mind often. It is true yet hard to understand whether it is cheaper to exchange money at the airport or use a forex card. 

While planning a vacation, you need to ensure you enjoy a hassle-free trip without stress. So, the primary and most crucial step is money management. Now, there are various ways by which you can exchange money, but you need to make sure that the process you choose is less complicated. It should be economical with no/less currency exchange rates and widely accepted.

Exchanging Money At Airport 

Exchanging currency at the airport is a common practice followed all around the globe, but it is an expensive approach. Did you know airport currency exchange rates are high? They charge you between 10%-12% more than the value of the amount. Airport currency exchanges come with extra fees and whopping exchange charges. It is better to take advantage of international travel cards or credit cards to avoid High currency exchange rates at the Airport. Therefore, before exchanging currency, get to know the airport currency exchange rate and decide. 

Forex Card 

A forex card is a popular alternative to airport exchange. A forex card functions just like a debit card and is easy to use. You can use a forex card at ATMs or stores. It transfers money between your Forex account and the ATM or store. 

If you decide to use a forex card to buy anything, you can buy it in the currency loaded on your card. Since a forex card is pre-loaded with the currency of your destination country, you don’t have to worry about the exchange rate; you can get what you pay for. Moreover, these conversion charges are lesser than airport conversion charges.

Using a forex card ensures you have ample money to make purchases every time in whichever country you travel to. Further, it gives you access to global markets. Purchasing items in different currencies gives you more freedom and flexibility when purchasing things from other countries. You will lose out on this benefit if you spend extra on conversion fees when you convert currency at the airport. 

Security checkpoints at airports are getting strict, which means there will be less of an opportunity to get through security with a bag full of money. Getting a forex card to withdraw your money at an ATM could save time when checking in at the airport. But beware that forex cards can charge hefty ATM withdrawal fees.

Forex cards are safer than carrying cash, and with cash, you have the added danger of being robbed. A forex card requires both an electronic signature and PIN used to authorise each transaction made on the account, which means you have even more protection against unauthorised use of your money. This won’t be the case if you exchange money at the airport. A forex debit card is accepted pretty much anywhere that Visa or Mastercard are accepted, just about anywhere in the world.

Why should you avoid carrying cash? 

Carrying cash is not the safest option when you’re travelling abroad. However, it can be better than strictly relying on your credit card. Consider these points when deciding whether to carry cash or a forex card.

A forex card can be a convenient way to withdraw local currency from an ATM abroad. With Forex cards, you can earn rewards while you travel abroad. You can use it as a method of payment at stores and restaurants, which helps you avail yourself of different offers and vouchers. Card skimming can also be avoided with a forex card. There are no reports of people being skimmed through forex cards, compared to the millions who have had their credit card skimming at gas pumps and ATMs in past years.

Though these points highlight the benefits of forex cards, there are some areas where forex cards lag behind many other convenient payment methods for international travel. Here are some factors that can make you look for better options than forex cards.

  1. There are various charges associated with forex cards. The bank can ask for issuing charges to get a forex card. You are also charged to load money into your forex card. If you misplace your card or it gets stolen, you must pay reissuing charges to get a new card. 
  2. One of the major disadvantages of forex cards is the ATM withdrawal charges. You might have to pay $US2 to $US3 for each ATM withdrawal. You might also have to pay cross-currency charges, up to 3%. 
  3. You also have to pay a cross-currency tax of up to 0.18% for less than 1 lakh.
  4. Most forex cards also have a limited validity of 1 year, which can be problematic if you are a frequent traveller.

All these factors can make it more sensible to look for better payment methods like Niyo Global. There is no issuance charge associated with Niyo Global. You don’t have to pay any loading or unloading charges. Instead, you can get up to 6.5% interest on the balance amount you don’t spend. You also don’t have to pay any forex markup fees on your international transactions, which is one of the major reasons why Niyo Global is a better payment option than forex cards.  

Why prefer a Niyo Global Card over a Forex Card?

Niyo has simplified and revolutionised the banking experience for its customers through its Niyo Global Card. The Niyo Global Card is your one-stop travel payment solution. It is an Indian Rupee-based international debit card linked to an interest-earning account and a smart app that helps you to make payments in more than 150 countries. You can load your Niyo card with Indian Rupees and spend it in any currency you want. The card auto-converts the currency at 0% forex markup value. It means the Niyo Global card doesn’t charge any extra fees for providing the convenience of making payments in a foreign currency. Apart from that, you get complimentary airport lounge access, so you can relax and rejuvenate before your flight. 

Other features of the Niyo Global card include:

  • Zero forex markup
  • Up to 6.5% interest on your savings with monthly interest payouts
  • Free airport lounge access across India
  • Add money in INR and use in 150+ countries
  • Tap and Pay transactions
  • Quick ATM Locator within the app
  • Handy foreign currency converter within the app
  • Customer Service is available in-app 24X7
  • There are no account opening fees
  • Account opening process is 100% digital within the app, no need to visit the bank
  • There are no fees for non-maintenance on the Zero Balance Card
  • You can easily add money using UPI/NEFT/IMPS without any charges
  • Niyo Global app allows you to manage your payment limit across multiple payment channels


Though forex cards can be a good option for making an international payment, they lag in many areas where international debit cards easily excel. Therefore it’s best to look for better alternative payment options that do not charge hefty fees as forex cards do. International debit cards like Niyo Global offer obvious benefits over forex cards, which makes them a preferred choice over forex cards for international travellers. 


1. Should I exchange money before travelling?

In many countries, international debit cards are accepted. Avoid airports and untrustworthy vendors while exchanging currency and use an international debit card to avoid heavy currency exchange fees.

2, Do you lose money when exchanging?

On average, travellers lose a minimum of 6-8% and a maximum of 12-15% of their money when exchanging money into foreign currency in various forms. You can save yourself from spending such ludicrous money by switching to an international debit card like Niyo Global. It offers zero forex markup, which means you don’t have to worry about paying hefty charges on exchanging money. 

3, Are ATMs at airports more expensive?

Airport exchange rates are notorious for charging exorbitant “service fees”. Airport foreign currency exchange fees are much higher and is not the best place to exchange money.