ICICI Bank is the largest private-sector bank in India with branches around the world and is one of many banks that offer their clients a foreign currency account.
Many who work outside of the country and are paid in foreign currencies want some place to park their foreign currency while waiting to return home. ICICI’s foreign currency account gives them just that place, in a form that has relatively high-yield interest as it matures.
Most major banks will offer some version of a foreign currency account, and each of these products will vary regarding fees, benefits, and which currencies they accommodate. In the case of ICICI, they offer their customers two relevant options for handling foreign currency.
For customers who are residents of India but travel frequently, do business overseas, or have international clients, ICICI carries the Resident Foreign Currency (Domestic) Account. This is designed for residents of India to keep their foreign currency safe from the fluctuations of exchange rates.
For Non-resident Indians (Indians living or doing business abroad for extended periods of time), ICICI Bank offers the Foreign Currency Non-Resident Account.
In this review, we’ll take a look at the ICICI Foreign Currency Non-Resident Account to give you a better idea of what they offer as compared with some of the other, similar accounts available from other banks on the market.
- No minimum balance.
- No conversion fees into Rupees.
- Available in 9 major currencies.
- Interest earned is tax-free in India.
- Fixed term deposit means no access to your account.
- There is a minimum term of 1 year.
- Only available to Non-resident Indians.
The main difference between the ICICI FCNR Account and many other banks’ foreign currency accounts is that this is exclusively a fixed term deposit account. This means that once your money has been deposited, you do not have access to it (without a penalty) for a minimum of 1 year. The maximum term allowed for this type of account is five years.
In other words, at present, ICICI does not carry an account for those looking to manage their foreign currency or need regular access to it, except for the account mentioned above, for resident Indians keeping their currency in British pounds or US Dollars.
If you are an Indian resident interested in that type of account, there is more information available here.
Instead, the Foreign Currency Non-resident Account is ideal for those who are living abroad, have a large amount of foreign currency, and want it to accrue interest at a high yield without concern for the fluctuations of exchange rates.
The other bonus of this account is that none of the interest payments are taxable in India via TDS (income tax).
This is a single currency account, meaning deposits in multiple denominations are not allowed in this account, but as there is no minimum opening balance, customers are welcome to open separate accounts in any of the nine foreign currencies available.
For those who are interested in multi-currency accounts, ICICI does not offer this, but some larger international banks such as Citibank and HSBC have multi-currency accounts available as one of their offerings.
As we’ve mentioned, this is a fixed term deposit account with a minimum tenure of one year.
If you decide to close your account before the first year is up, all accrued interest is forfeited as a penalty. If you choose to close this account after the first year, interest will be paid for the amount of time your deposit remained with the bank.
Interest rates will differ based on a variety of factors, including what kind of currency you’re keeping and the amount of time your deposit remains in the bank. Generally speaking, the longer the tenure of your deposit, the higher your interest rate will be.
Interest rates are subject to change monthly.
What Currencies are Available?
As of this writing, ICICI offers the FCNR Account in the following currencies:
USD (US Dollar), GBP (Great British Pound), EUR (Euro), JPY (Japanese Yen), CAD (Canadian Dollar), AUD (Australian Dollar), SGD (Singapore Dollar), HKD (Hong Kong Dollar) and CHF (Swiss Franc).
There is no monthly fee, and as this is not a transaction account, there are no transaction fees applicable to this account.
As with any foreign currency account, the exchange rates will constantly change depending on a variety of factors.
ICICI Bank will set the exchange rate applied to your deposit.
The best way to find out the current exchange rate that ICICI Bank is currently using by contacting them here.
How to Apply
To apply for any ICICI Non-Resident Indian account, including the FCNR Account, you’ll need to fill out a form online, after which there is a free call back, then either you send an email of scanned documents or schedule a free courier pickup of your documents. Once these steps are complete, your account is open.
If you’re eager to open this account while you’re overseas, once you’ve applied, you can make a deposit either online or via wire transfer.
Other Similar Accounts
As I’ve mentioned this is not a traditional foreign currency account. The more common type of foreign currency account is the type where your cash is accessible, but most of the larger banks also carry fixed term deposit accounts in addition to their standard foreign currency accounts.
These don’t normally exist for travel or convenience, but are more of an investment product for those who wish to diversify their currency, having it earn on a higher interest rate than in a savings account.
If you’re looking for a more active, accessible foreign currency account, there are accounts like this available from all of the major Australian banks, including ANZ (Australia and New Zealand Banking Group), NAB (National Australian Bank), CBA (Commonwealth Bank of Australia), as well as from international banks like Citibank and HSBC.
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