Activate international payments in SBI credit/ debit cards

Aman Saxena

If you are an SBI account holder you may be able to use your card when you travel abroad or make international transactions. But it may first require having the right card and activating the feature. Read on to learn more about making international payments with your SBI card.

Can I use my SBI debit / credit card internationally?

A regular State Bank of India debit card will not work outside India or on international websites. A standard SBI bank account debit card is only for domestic Indian purchases.¹

That being said, SBI does offer specific debit cards that can be used internationally:²

  • SBI International Debit Card
  • SBI Platinum International Debit Card
  • SBI My Card International Debit Card
  • Debit Card On International Websites

Each of these cards comes with a chip that can be inserted into a point-of-sale card reader abroad. The Debit Card on International Websites is specifically for purchases done on foreign marketplaces or shops online like Amazon.

You can use an SBI credit card to make purchases abroad, or from international websites, but you will need to activate international transactions for the card before it can work.³

How can I activate my SBI card for international transactions?

There are 4 main ways you can activate your SBI card for international transactions.

Let’s take a look at each one:⁴

  • At an SBI bank branch
  • SBI’s internet banking
  • The SBI Card App
  • By SMS

At a State Bank of India branch

You can head to your local State Bank of India branch in India to activate your card for international transactions. A bank representative can do the activation through their computer system, but be sure to bring your account information, ID, and relevant card.

SBI’s Internet Banking

You can activate international payments through SBI’s online banking. To log in, you must be already set up with online banking for the account you want, and have your login details.

Once you are in the dashboard, here are the steps:

  1. Go to the main menu on the left
  2. Select “Services”
  3. Select “Manage Card Usage”
  4. Change the transaction type from Domestic to ‘International’

The transaction type will be on Domestic as a default, and you can change it to International. If it says International already, then you are all set.

The SBI Card App

If you are already set up on SBI’s internet banking, you can log in to the SBI Card App on your mobile with the same details. You can download the app from the iOS or Android app store.

Once you have downloaded the SBI Card App and signed in:

  1. Head to the main menu
  2. Click on Services
  3. From Services, select “Manage Card Usage”
  4. Under Manage Usages, select the transaction type from Domestic to International

Through SMS

To activate international payments on your SBI card with your mobile, you can send an SMS message. Just simple send the following to 5676791:


This will activate your card for international transactions for point-of-sale purchases, online and ATM withdrawals

Lastly, you can also activate international transactions and payments through the Yono app, more on that in the next section.

How do I activate international payments on the Yono app?

If you have the Yono app, you can activate international payments for your debit card. Here is how to do it:⁵

  1. Open Yono on your mobile
  2. Select “Services”
  3. Select “Manage Debit Card”
  4. Select your account from the dropdown
  5. Select your Debit card number
  6. From the list, turn on International Usage by selecting the button so it reads “On”

This will turn on international transactions for your selected debit card with international usage at SBI. If you would also like to make online shopping purchases or transactions, you can also turn on “E-commerice CNP txns” from the list.

SBI cards international transaction charges and fees

There are 2 main fees with SBI debit and credit cards when you use them for international payments, in person or online:⁶

  • International transaction fee
  • Exchange rate fee

The international transaction fee is for the bank to cover the cost of facilitating the transaction. And is usually set as a percentage of the transaction. For SBI, the international transaction fee is 3%.

The second fee for international transactions with SBI is tucked away in the exchange rate you get. When SBI has to convert the purchasing currency into Indian rupees, the bank uses a marked-up exchange rate. This is different from the real exchange rate that you see on Google.

And in that small difference between the real exchange rate and the rate you get from SBI, there is the hidden fee. So the bank takes a cut of every dollar, euro, pound, or international currency you have converted.

These fees can seem small, but they can really add up when making purchases overseas. Let’s take a look at how much it costs in Indian rupees when making a $1,000 purchase using an SBI debit card versus a low-cost transfer service like Wise:

SBI Debit CardWise
Exchange rate for $1₹77.4₹76.63
Total cost in Indian Rupees₹79,722₹78,071.72

Simply by making a payment through a low-cost transfer service like Wise from India, you can save close to ₹2,000 on your transaction. Wise uses the real exchange rate and has one low fee that makes it cheap and easy to make payments abroad. Directly to local bank accounts too.

Wise Web/Android/ iOS app is an easy, fast and cheap way to send money around the world

Wise uses smart tech to make payments quickly and securely to local currency bank accounts around the world. So whether you are depositing rent on a future home, reserving a holiday, or paying for tuition, from India, you can do it right from your computer or mobile with Wise.

Doing business overseas? Wise can help with receiving international business payments in India

Wise offers Indian businesses and freelancers with account details in 8 different currencies to receive payments from abroad. Your clients pay you with a local transfer in their currency, and you receive rupees in your INR bank account — with eFIRC for every transfer. That is truly business without borders.

Get started with a Wise Business Account 🚀

And if you are in one of the supported countries like US, UK, Australia or more, check out the Wise Multi-currency Account. It is one account where you can hold up multiple currencies. And it comes with a linked debit card to use anywhere in the world, including in India.

Sources used for this article:

  1. SBI India Today
  2. SBI international debit cards
  3. SBI Credit card
  4. Activation
  5. Yono
  6. Fee

All sources checked as of 27 April, 2022

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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