HDFC Foreign Exchange in India: All you need to know

Aman Saxena

HDFC Bank is a great option if you’re looking for foriegn exchange options in India. With one of the most diverse portfolios of currencies available at an Indian bank, HDFC has taken steps to make global banking more accessible. But that doesn’t mean it comes cheap.

Read on to see how HDFC Foreign Exchange works and what to keep in mind next time you want to exchange money in India.

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📝 Table of contents

Can I exchange foreign currency at HDFC?

Yes, you can get and exchange foreign currencies at HDFC Bank. And there are four main ways to do it:

  1. Foreign exchange in cash at the HDFC branch
  2. HDFC Forex card
  3. RemitNow
  4. NRI banking

Exchanging Cash at the HDFC branch

You can exchange Indian Rupees to foreign currencies at any HDFC branch.

They all have the capabilities to do so, and can even exchange back any foreign currencies you have, subject to availability.

HDFC branches carry 20 different global currencies, including:

USD, GBP, EUR, AUD, SGD, CAD, SAR, KRW, OMR, AED, CHF and THB

An HDFC branch can provide you up to $3,000 USD or the currency equivalent in cash, but any additional above that amount would have to be provided to you through a HDFC forex card.¹

Using a HDFC Forex Card

HDFC Bank has over 5 different cards that can carry foreign currencies that you can use abroad. Whether you are traveling for fun, business or as a student, HDFC has a card for you.

Not all the HDFC Forex cards offer the same currencies or options, here is a quick snapshot:

HDFC CardFeatures
MakeMyTrip HDFC Bank ForexPlus CardAvailable for 22 currencies, and you don’t need to be a HDFC Bank customer
Regalia Forex CardOnly for USD currency purchases
Multicurrency Platinum ForexPlus Chip CardAvailable in 22 currencies
ISIC Student ForexPlus CardOnly in USD, GBP, EUR

Most of the HDFC Forex cards can be applied to online through the HDFC website.²

RemitNow

RemitNow is available through HDFC’s Netbanking and lets customers send money to bank accounts outside of India.

⚠️ RemitNow is not available to NRI customers, non-HDFC customers or corporates

RemitNow lets you send money to bank accounts abroad in 19 different currencies. These include:

USD, GBP, EUR, AUD, JPY, SGD, CAD, SAR, KRW, OMR, AED, CHF, THB, ZAR

RemitNow has a minimum transaction requirement of the currency equivalent of $100 USD per transaction. And it is only accessible through the online HDFC Net Banking system.³

⚠️ The Reserve Bank of India lets residents only send the equivalent of $250,000 USD out of India per year. As a resident, you are only allowed to keep $2,000 USD or its equivalent of foreign currencies with you at home.

NRI Banking

HDFC lets Non-Resident Indians (NRI) save and send money to India through the HDFC NRI Accounts.

You can have different NRI accounts depending on which direction you want to send or receive funds.⁴

Type of accountDescription
NRE Savings AccountAn NRE Savings Account is a 100% repatriable account for overseas income
NRO Savings AccountAn NRO Savings Account lets you store income generated in India
RFC AccountIdeal for Non-Resident Indians who plan to return to India, with an option to store money in USD, GBP, and EUR.

It is a good idea to speak to a tax professional when looking at NRI accounts to find the best way and situation for possible tax savings for you and your family.

How can I exchange foreign currency at HDFC?

There are 2 main methods to get or send foreign currencies: In person at an HDFC bank branch, or online.

For physical foreign currency cash from a HDFC bank, you can head to your nearest branch and request the currencies you would like from those available.

You will be required to complete an A2 Form, and possibly a LRS Declaration if required before receiving the cash. Depending on the availability at the HDFC branch at that time, you will be able to collect your cash right then and there.⁵

HDFC bank sets their own exchange rate, different from the mid-market rate you see on Google, and it changes daily. Be sure to check with your HDFC bank representative or online for the day’s exchange rate.

For HDFC’s Forex Cards, RemitNow or the NRE/ NRO accounts, you can start the processes online.

For HDFC’s Forex Cards, you may be asked for a combination of the following⁶:

  • A self-attested copy of your passport
  • A self-attested copy of your visa or ticket
  • Address proof
  • A complete application form

Check with the documentation requirements for the exact card you are interested in.

For RemitNow, you can head to HDFC’s NetBanking and follow these steps for outward remittances⁷:

Add your beneficiary,

And finally, to complete foreign outward remittance,

For NRE/NRO accounts you can start the process by applying online through the HDFC website, under the NRI tab. Once you complete the form, a representative from HDFC will be in contact with you for next steps.

What is the HDFC foreign transaction fee?

The foreign transaction fee is also often called the service fee. It is the fee that the bank charges to you for exchanging currency, whether online or in-person.⁸

ActivityAmount equals less than $500 USDAmount is greater than $500 USD
Foreign Currency Exchange Transaction₹500₹1000
Remittance Outwards (RemitNow)₹500₹1000

The Foreign Currency Exchange Transaction fees are levied for in person cash exchanges, but as well for NRE/NRO accounts.

HDFC Forex cards operate differently and carry a few different service fees. Here is an example of the MakeMyTrip HDFC Bank ForexPlus Card fees⁹:

ActivityFee
Issuance Fee₹500
Reload Fee₹75
Currency conversions internally among wallets2% of the transaction
ATM Cash Withdrawal Fee- Example for US cash withdrawals$2.00 USD

For NRE & NRO accounts, they have their own structures such as requiring an average minimum balance requirement of ₹10,000 to avoid fees. Check which account is right for you and then take a close look at the fees they come with.¹⁰

HDFC foreign exchange rates

The HDFC foreign exchange rate is set every day for the major currencies it deals in. HDFC sets their rate to be different from the mid-market exchange rate.

The mid-market exchange rate is the rate you see on Google, and is the same one that banks use themselves. It does not have any mark-ups and is the most transparent exchange rate to use.

By setting their exchange rate weaker than the mid-market exchange rate, HDFC is able to sneak in an additional fee in the difference with every rupee you convert. And that can quickly take a bite out of your wallet.

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Sources

  1. HDFC Foreign Currency Cash
  2. HDFC Forex Card
  3. RemitNow
  4. NRI Banking
  5. Getting cash at an HDFC
  6. HDFC Forex Cards Documents
  7. HDFC RemitNow
  8. Forex Service Fee
  9. MakeMyTrip Forex Card Fees
  10. NRO Account Fees

All sources checked as of 20 February, 2021


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