Now, forex goes online

Most portals offer better exchange rates compared with banks and forex dealers



Planning an overseas trip and wondering how to buy foreign exchange? Well, you don’t have to visit your bank branch or run around searching for dealers offering the most competitive rates. You can now buy foreign exchange from the comfort of your home.

Foreign currency is now just a click away, thanks to forex market-place portals. They have tie-ups with banks and RBI-authorised forex dealers and promise a good deal. They are also transparent and allow you to do comparison shopping before deciding on a transaction.

So, how does one go about buying foreign currency online? Currently, quite a few portals offer this service. Prominent among these are thomascook.in, buyforex.in which is owned by Centrum Direct and bookmyforex.com. The process of buying forex online is quite simple. Before zeroing in on the service provider, you can compare the rates across portals. Once you make the choice, as a first step, you will have to sign up with the portal.

Once this is complete, you can choose the currency you wish to buy or sell. Thomascook.in offers to buy/sell 26 currencies from across the globe. Likewise, you can buy/sell 33 currencies through the buyforex.in portal. You have to provide details regarding your travel, documents such as passport, visa and ticket before making the purchase. Once you make the currency choice, the next step is to make the payment.

These portals offer you an array of payment options to choose from. For instance, you can make the payment using the net banking facility offered by your bank or even your debit/credit card to purchase the foreign currency. Most portals give you the option to book the currency by just paying an advance and settle the balance when you collect the foreign exchange.

For instance, buyforex.in allows you to block your rates for one business day by paying a small part of the money as booking amount. Likewise thomascook.in enables you to book the foreign currency by making an advance payment. You need to pay the balance amount at the nearest branch within 48 hours and collect the currency. This service is available only for buy transactions. These portals offer to deliver the forex purchases made above a specified threshold at your doorstep.

For instance, bookmyforex.com offers to deliver foreign exchange purchased for values in the ₹25,000-74,999 range for a flat fee of ₹100. For purchases of over ₹75,000 there is no delivery fee; for purchases below ₹25,000, there is no home delivery service.

Better reach

Besides convenience, most online portals score over banks and standalone forex dealers on the pricing and geographical reach fronts. Online portals cater to a larger cross section of people located across the country, thanks to the tie-ups with banks and other private RBI-recognised dealers. For instance, bookmyforex.com caters to people in 5,000 locations across 105 cities in India. Likewise, buyforex.in offers forex service to people in over 100 cities through Centrum’s branches and local tie-ups.

Attractive pricing

Online portals offer competitive rates compared to banks and standalone dealers. Comparison of exchange rate for US dollar on a particular day (July 14, 2015) revealed that online portals offered a good bargain compared to banks and other private money exchangers. Sample this.

The US dollar currency buy rate quote by buyforex.in was ₹63.96; this is the Indian rupees that one needs to pay to buy one US dollar. The buy rate for US dollar offered by bookmyforex.com the same day was a tad cheaper at ₹63.907.

In contrast, the mark-up on foreign currency sold by banks — private and public — was higher than at online portals. For instance, State Bank of India’s card rate was at ₹64.45 a US dollar.

Besides catering to Indians travelling abroad, buyforex.in also allows tourists travelling to India to book their foreign exchange online. For instance, foreigners travelling to India can log onto their portal and place an order for the foreign exchange that they would need.

Once they land in India, they can make the payment and collect the currency at Centrum Direct’s counter at the airport. This facility is currently available at nine major airports in the country and will be extended to three more airports over the next three months.

While online portals are competitive and convenient compared to banks and private physical dealers, it may be better to go with the more prominent portals which have been around for a while.

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