George Antony, MD of UAE Exchange, shares his views on foreign travel trends, travel insurance and loans.
What are the current trends related to foreign exchange?
Foreign exchange has changed avatars in recent times. The biggest trend in the market is the pickup in international travel. In fact, it is no longer limited to one or two trips in a year. This trend is driven by increased disposable incomes, rise of low-cost carriers like Indigo, GoAir, AirAsia among others and the rise of budget accommodations through providers like, AirBnB. Yet another significant development is that customers today, travel to multiple locations. While the USA, UK and UAE, top the most-travelled destinations, travellers like to cover multiple destinations within a single trip.
Subsequently, this leads to the next trend around requirement for different currencies. Industry data indicates that there is significant movement towards a cashless economy. From swift transfers, foreign currency demand drafts and prepaid forex travel cards, an increasing number of foreign travellers are adopting cashless payments to meet their travel expenses.
What is your advice to people travelling abroad? Should they carry cash? A forex card?
A forex pre-paid debit card is generally the cheapest and most convenient way to obtain cash in the local currency of a country, given the easy access to ATMs across all major cities and airports of the world. It is important to know, however, that each cash withdrawal is subject to currency conversion charges, foreign ATM charges or other charges from the bank and/or the local bank that maintains the ATM.
UAE Exchange India, has a unique arrangement with several banks and regular analysis of the market trends allows us to offer competitive rates with best in the industry, service standards.
A forex multi-currency travel card is yet another option to carry money abroad, safely. The card has an embedded micro-chip preventing phishing and skimming. Since, the card can only be operated using a unique four digit PIN number, it has a reduced chance of misuse. Also, in case of loss or theft, the customer can easily block a card, and thus avoid loss of money.
Would you advise people to use Credit Cards when travelling abroad?
It is wiser for travellers to use a credit card than take the risk of carrying liquid currencies. That is mostly why most people today opt for plastic money instead of liquid currencies.
What is an express loan?
A loan which can be disbursed quickly (within a few minutes) and involves minimum documentation, is an express loan. Usually, only Gold Loans fall within this category.
How do you decide which is the better option- A personal loan or a gold loan?
This depends on the borrower. A Personal Loan is an unsecured loan and can be taken for a period of one-two years and is repayable in EMIs. A guarantor is required in order to avail of this loan. It does not fall under the express loan category as it requires a minimum of one or two days for processing and sanctioning. The amount of documentation is also more. A Gold Loan, on the other hand, is an express loan and also a secured loan (Gold is the security). No guarantor is required for a Gold Loan.
How important is insurance when travelling?
It’s important to realise that something negative could happen, and in these situation its always better to be covered by a comprehensive travel insurance policy rather than having your family vacation go awry.
A travel insurance covers exigencies like medical treatment, trip cancellation, stolen/loss of possessions. Travel insurance can ensure that you get the best quality of care, protection against exigencies and concern over losing the financial investment that goes into a trip.
What types of insurance would you advise people to take when travelling?
We advise people to take travel Insurance based on their purpose of travel.
- Individual Travel Insurance:-Individual travel insurance is meant for a single individual covering his travel-related contingencies.
- Family Travel Insurance: – A family travel insurance plan insures travel-related emergencies of the entire family.
- Student Travel Insurance: – Student Travel Insurance is designed for students travelling abroad on a student visa to pursue higher studies.
- Senior Citizen Travel Insurance:-Senior citizen insurance is for those in the age group of 61-70 years, to make their travel a pleasant experience
- Multi-Trip Travel Insurance:-A multi-trip travel insurance offers extended coverage usually for a year. It is specially designed for frequent flyers seeking multiple trips, so that they do not have to apply for insurance every time they travel.
Customers can choose from the available coverage option on the basis of their specific requirements. All travel plans offer coverage against any possible emergency situation during transit.
How do you decided how much insurance is enough when travelling? Does it depend on the country you are visiting?
For customers travelling abroad, we offer plans based on the countries they desire to visit. The healthcare costs and other expenses vary in each country. The duration of the trip also influences the coverage needed.