Education Trends: Tips to save money on foreign exchange while studying abroad

4 min read

Edition: November 5th, 2021
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS

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  • Excerpts from article by Mayank Goyal, published on

An increasing number of Indian students now have global aspirations and are striving to move abroad for higher education and a holistic, transformative learning experience. After China, India has consistently been recording the highest number of students moving overseas for degrees.

Even the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting complications in international travel have failed to dampen this enthusiasm — during the first wave of the outbreak, 91 percent of Indian students surveyed by UNESCO expressed their desire to study abroad despite all the risks involved in travelling.

While the experience and exposure that comes with a global degree are valuable, it can also be financially draining. From tuition fees to accommodation and airfares to food, several expenses must be considered before you decide to study abroad.

To add to these, high exchange rates elevate the budget further. However, there are ways in which students can save money on foreign exchange and have a less stressful experience during their stay abroad.

Here are a few tips that can help you save a lot of money in your studies abroad journey:

1. Watch forex rates, compare them and choose the right channel

  • If you’re yet to fly out, a basic yet significant step is to keep an eye on currency rates and compare them.
  • Many vendors provide currency conversion services, and you must monitor the rates they offer.
  • We know that forex exchange rates change quickly, and they usually also differ among banks and money changers. So keep yourself fully aware of the fluctuation and buy foreign currency when the rate is low.
  • Also, online forex marketplaces give you better value for money as they are constantly competing with each other.

2. Open a bank account in the country where you’ll be studying

  • An overseas bank account will help you save money on forex exchange, especially if you will be abroad for more than a year.
  • Several universities have designated staff who help international students open a bank account locally.
  • Opening a local bank account will not only help you save on frequent conversion fees you pay every time you use your account from back home, it also helps you get your paychecks quickly if you decide to start a part-time job.

3. Stay alert for high remittance charges

  • Whether you choose to transfer money through a bank, an Authorised Dealer II (institutions authorised by the Reserve Bank of India to sell and buy foreign currencies), or an online marketplace, a remittance charge will be involved.
  • So, keep an eye on the fee and choose the channel that offers you the best rates.
  • You can also transfer your money via neobanks (digital banks that are creating a buzz in the FinTech community), which might offer you the best exchange rate and zero transfer charges. Not only are they convenient to use, but the transactions are also easier and transparent.

4. Use a Forex Card and look out for hidden costs

  • Another way of saving money while making transfers or exchanging currency is to use a Forex Card. Not only are these pin-protected prepaid cards among the safest ways to carry foreign currency, but they are also accepted at almost all the places that accept Visa/Mastercard.
  • One of the best things about a Forex Card is that you don’t have to worry about fluctuating exchange rates. Why? Because the foreign exchange rate prevalent during the time of your purchase will be locked. So, buy it when the rates are low.
  • Forex cards are convenient and flexible as you can reload them at any time. All you need is a laptop or a smartphone and money in your account to make the transaction.
  • But, although they come with an insurance cover, you can lose a lot of money under the label of hidden charges like ATM withdrawal charges and balance enquiry charges, etc. So, keep an eye on the fine print.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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