Forex cards, travel cards fee should be settled in rupees, not in foreign currency: RBI

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) stated that the charges levied on forex prepaid cards, store value cards, and travel cards payable in India must be denominated and cleared in rupees.According to the RBI notification dated May 9, 2023: “A few Authorised Persons are levying certain fees/charges, which are payable in India on such instruments, in foreign currency.”

“It is advised that fees/charges payable in India have to be denominated and settled in Rupees only,” the regulator said.

Indians generally use international debit cards, store value cards, charge cards, and smart cards while visiting another country.

International debit cards
According to the notification dated June 14, 2005, “It is understood that banks authorised to deal in foreign exchange (AD banks) are issuing International Debit Cards (IDCs) which can be used by a resident for drawing cash or making payment to a merchant establishment overseas during his visit abroad. It is clarified that IDCs can be used only for permissible current account transactions and the item-wise limits as mentioned in the Schedules to the Government of India Notification No.G.S.R. 381(E) dated May 3, 2000, as amended from time to time, are equally applicable to payments made through the use of these cards.”

Furthermore, it is made clear that IDCs cannot be used to pay for call-back services, participation in sweepstakes, the purchase of banned or proscribed magazines, or other items or activities that do not allow the withdrawal of foreign currency.Store value cards/charge cards/smart cards
The RBI has observed that some authorised dealer banks are also issuing Store Value Cards, Charge Cards, and Smart Cards to citizens travelling abroad for personal or commercial purposes. These cards may be used to make purchases at foreign merchant establishments and to withdraw cash from ATMs. It is made clear that the Reserve Bank does not need to grant prior authorisation for the issuance of such cards.

Refund of unutilized foreign exchange
Indian residents who buy travel cards can only get their unused foreign exchange balance refunded after 10 days from the date of the last transaction, according to the RBI notification dated April 2, 2012

All such authorised persons will redeem the unutilised amount remaining on the cards, subject to the retention of:
· The amounts that are authorised and remain unclaimed/ not settled by the acquirers as of the date of redemption till the completion of the respective settlement cycle;
· A small balance not exceeding US$ 100, for meeting any pipeline transactions till the completion of the respective settlement cycle; and
· Transaction fees/service tax payable in India in rupees.

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