NRO, NRE and FCNR accounts for NRIs: Pros and Cons

There are several options available for NRIs considering opening a account in an Indian bank:

  1. Non-Resident Ordinary (NRO) Savings Account
  2. NRO Fixed Deposit Account
  3. Non-Resident External (NRE) Savings Account
  4. NRE Fixed Deposit Account and
  5. Foreign Currency Non Resident (FCNR) Fixed Deposit Account

Each of these account types has certain advantages and disadvantages. Understanding them can help you in making a choice.

Key aspects of NRE accounts are as follows:

  1. NRE accounts are maintained in rupees. This means that the foreign currency is converted to Indian rupees at the prevailing foreign exchange rates when the money is deposited into the account.
  2. The primary source of funds deposited into NRE accounts must be from your earnings abroad. In other words, you cannot deposit money from sources in India such as house rent or pensions in this account.
  3. The principal amount and the interest are fully repatriable (can be converted to any foreign currency). The conversion back to foreign currency is done at the prevailing forex rates.
  4. Interest income earned on the money in a NRE account is non-taxable in India. However, it may be taxable in your country of residence as per that country's tax rules.
  5. You can only have other NRIs as joint account holders on NRE accounts. Resident Indians cannot be joint account holders in NRE accounts with NRIs.

Key aspects of NRO accounts are as follows:

  1. NRO accounts are maintained in rupees. This means that the foreign currency is converted to Indian rupees at the prevailing foreign exchange rates when the money is deposited into the account.
  2. The source of funds deposited into NRO accounts can be from India or abroad. NRO accounts are appropriate for NRIs who have had earnings in India earlier and became NRIs later as well as NRIs with income from sources in India such as house rent, pensions etc. You an also deposit money from your earnings abroad or transfer money from a NRE account into a NRO account.
  3. Current Income like rent, dividend, pension can be remitted abroad through the NRO account. Funds which can be repatriated from the NRO are subject to a maximum limit of USD 1 million per financial year. Repatriability is subject to conditions.
  4. Interest income earned on the money in a NRO account is liable for taxes in India.
  5. You can have other NRIs or resident Indians as joint account holders on NRO accounts.

Key aspects of FCNR accounts are as follows:

  1. FCNR accounts have to be opened and maintained in the foreign currency itself.
  2. FCNR accounts have to be opened and maintained in the foreign currency itself.
  3. The principal amount and the interest are fully repatriable
  4. Interest income earned on the money in a FCNR account is non-taxable in India. However, it may be taxable in your country of residence as per that country's tax rules.
  5. You can only have other NRIs as joint account holders on FCNR accounts. Resident Indians cannot be joint account holders in FCNR accounts with NRIs.

    NRE and FCNR accounts have the advantages of not having to pay taxes in India which could be a hassle for NRIs trying to figure out the tax rules in India as well as their country of residence.


    People opening NRE accounts and would like to repatriate their funds at some point must consider the foreign currency conversion rates at the time the funds are being deposited versus the time when the funds have to be repatriated. This can carry risks as well as rewards depending on the forex rates trend. For example, if $1000 is converted to Indian rupees at Rs. 50 per dollar and then converted back to dollars at a conversion rate of Rs. 40 per dollar, then you would get back $1250 for a good gain. On the other hand, if the dollar is at Rs. 55 per dollar, you would lose some of your principal when you do the repatriation.


    FCNR accounts do not carry any forex rate risk as the accounts are always maintained in the foreign currency.


    NRO accounts have the advantage of being able to deposit funds from both sources in India and abroad and having joint account holders in India. Repatriability of funds is a disadvatage for NRO accounts. The key advantage of NRO fixed deposit accounts is the substantially higher interest rates as compared to FCNR and NRE accounts. The rate of interest offered is different in different banks and also depends on the fixed deposit tenure. So your choice of which bank to open a account in can depend on the interest rates.


    FCNR and NRE fixed deposit accounts typically yield much lower than NRO fixed deposit accounts. Most banks in India offer the same interest rate for FCNR and NRE fixed deposit accounts. So if you are planning to choose a bank for your NRE or FCNR fixed deposits, interest rates offered is not a consideration.


    Both NRE and NRO savings accounts yield 3.5% currently. There is no savings account option for FCNR accounts.


    NRE Savings and NRO Savings accounts allow you to have family members in India as mandate holders whereas you cannot have mandatees for the fixed deposit options available in NRE, NRO and FCNR accounts. Mandate holders can withdraw funds from your accounts in India with some type of a card such as a debit card of a ATM card. They can also withdraw funds at the bank locations.


    Most banks also provide for taking loans for a certain percentage of your existing balance on your NRE, NRO and FCNR fixed deposit accounts.