A Guide to Handling Travel Money in India (2023)

A Guide to Handling Travel Money in India (1)

India is a great country to travel to not only for its diverse things to see and do but also for its value for money. It is one of the most affordable places to visit. If you are planning a trip to India, before you go check out this guide for handling your travel money.

1. What currency is used in India?

The official currency of India is the Indian rupee (sign: ₹; code: INR), which is divided into 100 paise (p). Banknotes come in denominations of ₹5, ₹10, ₹20, ₹50, ₹100, ₹200, ₹500 and ₹2000; coin denominations include ₹1, ₹2, ₹5 and ₹10. There used to be the ₹1,000 banknote, but it was demonetized in November 2016 in an effort to combat the use of illicit and counterfeit cash for funding illegal activities. So don't accept the ₹1,000 banknote as it is no longer valid.

Tip: The US dollar is also widely accepted in India, but it is still recommended to get some rupees of small denominations which can be used in remote areas where the US dollar may not be accepted.

2. What are the exchange rates between the major currencies and the rupee?

The exchange rates between the Indian rupee and other currencies fluctuate. At the time of writing this post (November 11, 2019), US$1 equaled around ₹70; £1 was worth about ₹91; AU$1 was around ₹49; CA$1 equaled around ₹54; €1 was worth about ₹79. Check the latest rates here: https://www.xe.com/.

3. Can I take rupees to India?

The Indian rupee is a closed currency. Foreigners are not allowed to carry the Indian currency into India. If you are a resident of India, you can bring up to ₹25,000 (US$350) without needing to declare.

4. Can I take foreign currencies (like US dollars and Euros) to India?

Foreign currencies are permitted to be taken into India and there is no limit to how much a visitor can take. Visitors can bring up to US$5,000 or its equivalent in another currency in coins and notes, or US$10,000 or its equivalent in another currency in coins, notes and traveler’s checks to enter India without needing to declare it. Declaration is required if the amount is higher.

Before your departure, it's best to prepare money in different forms: a combination of cash, credit cards, and traveler's checks just in case you need them. It's also advisable to keep them in different places (money belts, secret pockets, a Ziploc bag, or even washbag). As the saying goes "Don't keep all your eggs in one basket".

5. What is the best currency to take to India?

It is suggested you bring the currency of your home country and then exchange it into the Indian rupee. This is because, unless your local currency is US dollar, changing your local currency into the US dollar first and then into the Indian currency may cost you twice in banking charges. Major currencies such as US dollars, British pounds, and Euros are easier to change though. Make sure to bring cash that is clean and undamaged so that it can be accepted by the exchange service.

6. Where Can I get rupees in India?

You will find it easy to change major currencies (e.g. US dollars, Pounds Sterling, and Euros) into rupees throughout India. Australian and Canadian dollars and other currencies are accepted by some banks.

Airports: You can easily get rupees at currency exchange booths at the airport upon arrival, but the exchange rate is rather unfavorable. It's advisable to only exchange a small amount of rupees for incidentals and transportation to your hotel and downtown where you often get better rates.

Hotels: Many hotels offer money exchange services. Before booking, check if the hotel you want to book can change money and ask for details of the rate.

ATMs: ATMs often offer the best exchange rates and can be easily found at airports, urban areas or outside of banks. Most ATMs accept MasterCard, Visa, Cirrus, and Maestro. The maximum amount of Indian rupees you can withdraw in one transaction varies, from ₹2000 / US$28 to ₹10,000 / US$ 141. The Indian bank charges a set fee (usually ₹150 / US$2 to ₹300 / US$4) instead of a percentage, so it's better to withdraw enough for your upcoming needs in each transaction rather than smaller amounts.

Tips:

1). Note that ATMs in India typically accept 4-digit codes. If your PIN is longer, ask your bank if it can be changed before your trip.
2). Before traveling, make sure your card can access banking networks in India and learn about the charges.
3). Let your bank know that you will be using your card in India so that it won't be blocked.
4). Take care of your encashment certificates (receipts) which you receive after finishing an exchange transaction. They will allow you to change your leftover rupees back to your local currency when you leave India.
5). Never accept any notes that are damaged, or filthy as they will be refused when you try to use them.
6). Never exchange money with an unauthorized money changer as it is illegal.

7. Where can I change leftover rupees into my local currency before I leave India?

If you still have rupees left at the end of your trip, you can change them into foreign currency at the airport. You may need to show your encashment certificates or credit card / ATM receipts and present your passport and airline ticket.

8. How much money do I need?

India is generally considered a cheap country to travel in by western standard. How much you spend largely depends on your travel style and budget. There are hotels for different budgets, from simple to luxury. As an expert on tailor-made travel for over a decade, Odynovo can create a tour that match your budget, tastes and interests.

9. Can I pay with credit cards in India?

Credit cards are widely accepted in India, especially in major cities such as Delhi and Mumbai. Many hotels, upmarket restaurants, and shops allow you to pay by credit card. Smaller sellers only accept cash, so it's best to keep some rupee as a backup option. The most widely accepted cards In India are MasterCard and Visa. American Express is generally accepted by major hotels and restaurants. It's possible to withdraw cash advances at some banks.

10. Is tipping customary in India and how much is expected?

Tipping is mostly optional in India and does not follow strict guidelines. The average tip is usually about 10% depending on the quality of the service.

Restaurants and hotels: Check if the restaurant/hotel has added a service charge to the bill; if not, tip around 10% for standard service.

Guides and Drivers: It is customary to tip guides and drivers after tours. Tipping ₹200 to ₹350 (US$3–US$5) per day is reasonable.

Taxis and rickshaws: It is not necessary, but it's good to tip if you really enjoy their services.

Spas and Salons: Tipping is not expected, but you can give a small tip if you think the service provided is excellent.

11. Can I bargain in India?

Bargaining is part of the local culture in India. In most cases, it is not only allowed but also expected in local markets and most shops. Most sellers don't expect you to pay the asking price, so don't be afraid to bargain. However, haggling is not appropriate in more upmarket shops where prices are fixed.

Tips:

1). Dehli's Chandni Chok and Jaipur's Johari Bazaar in the Old City are great places to shop and experience the bargaining culture.
2). A general rule is not to accept more than half of the initial asking price.
3). When negotiating the price, do it with a smile and a sense of humor which makes it easier for you to get the price you want without offending the vendor.
4). Go to the market early and you may get a better price as the first sale of the day is considered lucky by sellers.
5). It is not recommended to haggle over small amounts as a few rupees matter more to the vendor than to you.

Hope this guide makes it easier for you to manage your travel money in India.

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