CitiBank forex cards: All you need to know

Aman Saxena

CitiBank has been a pioneer in terms of global banking historically. But frankly, their offerings for holding and paying in foriegn currencies easily have not kept up. At least in India, CitiBank, or Citi for short, does not offer prepaid multi-currency accounts or wallets like Indian banks or global money transfer partners like Wise.

Let’s break down what Citi’s India offerings provide you for foreign currency transactions to see if they can keep up with the convenient and often cheaper multi-currency accounts. And if you're looking for a smart, cheap way to transfer money abroad, try Wise

Open your free Wise account now

Table of contents

What are the CitiBank forex cards?

If you are looking to do foreign exchange transactions, CitiBank in India offers traditional options in credit, debit and expatriate banking. All of which combined come close to a multicurrency wallet, but don’t offer the ease and freedom that comes with holding multiple currencies in a single account.

The Citi PremierMiles Credit Card

A contender with a travel-oriented focus. It works like a traditional credit card where there is an interest rate on your purchases and you get the Citi exchange rates. There are fees with this card for making overseas purchases, which a later section will get into further. And in return for spending, you get miles you can accumulate to cash in at a later time.¹

Citi Expat Savings Account

Another option for global currency transactions for Indians living abroad. If you maintain a minimum relationship of ₹2,00,000 with Citi, you can have access to this account. It lets you have free cash withdrawals at ATMs globally and provides an easy remittance process back to India.²

Citi’s Global Money Transfers

Last but not least, this is how you can send money to and from India with Citi. But this is often limited to NRI services like moving money in and out of NRE/NRO accounts.

If you do live outside India, Citi does offer Multi-Currency Accounts for residents in Singapore, the UK and Australia.

What can I use a CitiBank forex card for?

There are plenty of reasons to have easier ways to shop, spend and hold different global currencies. Whether it is to avoid carrying around cash and the security risk that comes with it, or just to manage favorable exchange rates. With a multi-currency account like Wise, it is a single account where you can load up and spend in 45 different currencies all from a single card.

But that is not to say you can’t shop and spend with a card like the Citi PremierMiles Card. It is a Mastercard so you can use it at any shops or merchants that accept Mastercard. You will just have to accept whatever the exchange rate is at the time of the transaction from the bank. Then at the end of the statement period you will have to repay the credit card. The caveat is that the exchange rate can be unfavorable and have a hidden fee, on top of the fees already built into the card. Plus cash withdrawals from ATMs get expensive too.

The Citi Expat Savings Account makes it easy to spend globally and send money home with the Platinum Debit card. You can spend up to ₹ 1,00,000 a day with the account, including cash withdrawals. And you can use the card to shop online at global websites. Again, the caveat here is that you are only privy to the exchange rate at the time by the bank, which is often marked up above the real exchange rate. And any additional fees with international transactions since you are not able to hold any currencies.

Citi Global Transfers can be used to send money to and from your NRI accounts at Citibank. Citibank India accounts can receive up to ₹30 lakh per day but outgoing amounts can differ depending on the country.³

Charges and fees for a CitiBank forex card

What about fees for the different Citi offerings in India? It depends on which card and account you are looking at. CitiBank is known to have high minimum balance limits, qualifying limits and annual fees. But one area that you can expect a hidden fee is the exchange rate you get with Citi. They make their exchange rates weaker than the real exchange rate, to slip in a hidden fee for every unit of currency that is converted into Indian Rupee. That means additional money out of your pocket for every foreign transaction, on top of any upfront fees.

The Expat Savings account requires a minimum average balance relationship of ₹ 2,00,000 to not be charged a 1% fee on the shortfall or ₹600. And while ATM withdrawals are free globally, you will be charged an international transaction fee on overseas ATMs and spend of 3.5%.⁴

With the Citi PremierMiles Card, you may get hit with an annual fee for holding the card. Then if you want to take a cash advance at an ATM it is a 2% fee on the amount withdrawn. On top of that, if you shop overseas, the currency you spend in will be converted by Citi’s exchange rate into US Dollar, and then from US Dollar into Indian Rupee. And then you get hit with a 3.5% international transaction fee, on top of the hidden exchange rate fee.⁵

Citi Global Transfers lets you send money to your Citi NRI accounts in India without an additional fee. But there are limits depending on the country you are in, and the same hidden exchange rate applies.

When transferring money internationally, think Wise


Sending money globally should not be complicated. Whether you are sending money from India or to India, check out Wise for easy, cheap and fast money transfers directly to local bank accounts.

With Wise there are no minimums to maintain in an account or sign up fees, and you can send money easily from your phone or computer. And you can do it all at the real exchange rate, which means no hidden fees or markups. All you have to pay is one low upfront fee on the transfer. That’s it.

Wise is so simple and low-cost to use, it is no wonder over 7 million customers use it for global money transfers.

Open your free Wise account now

Want to make spending money globally as you travel, study and work overseas even easier? Get the Wise Multi-Currency Account. In one free account you can hold 45 different currencies that you can then spend with just a swipe of it’s Mastercard. Plus free cash withdrawals at ATMs globally up to $250 a month. Check to see if you are in one of the qualifying countries.

Overseas ATM withdrawals with CitiBank forex card

You can withdraw from ATMs globally with the Citi PremierMiles Credit Card and with the Expat Savings Account. You also may have an ability to withdraw from your NRO/NRE accounts, but check your account details for more information.

For the Citi PremierMiles Credit Card, you will have to pay a 2% cash advance fee, with a minimum floor charge of ₹300, on your withdrawal with the card at an ATM. You will also pay an international transaction fee of 3.5% on top of that, plus the hidden fees in the conversions.⁶

For the Expat Savings Account, there is no ATM fee to take cash out, but since you are overseas, you still have to pay a 3.5% international transaction fee on what you withdraw.⁷

What are the currencies in a CitiBank forex card?

The Citi PremierMiles Card and the Expat Savings Account can both be used globally and are not limited by geographic location or currencies for use. However, Citi Global Transfers can help you send money in NRI accounts from India to the US and these participating countries⁸:

AustraliaBahrainChinaHong Kong
Sources used for this article:
  1. Citi PremierMiles Credit Card
  2. Citi Expat Savings Account
  3. Citi Global Transfers
  4. Fees with the Citi Expat Savings Account
  5. Fees with the Citi PremierMiles Credit Card
  6. ATM Withdrawals with the Citi PremierMiles Credit Card
  7. ATM withdrawals with the Citi Expat Savings Account
  8. Citi Global Transfers currencies

All sources checked as of 3 August, 2020

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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