- 4.33% APY on USD balances
- $0 signup or subscription fees
- Withdraw $100 per month for free from ATMs worldwide
- Send, spend and withdraw 50+ currencies at the live rate
- Freeze and unfreeze your card instantly
Banks and ATMs are widely available in India — even in smaller villages. Though it’s still important to have access to cash on your trip, as India is still very much a cash economy.
Bringing a credit card along that doesn’t incur foreign transaction fees can help you save on extraneous fees as well. A combination of card and cash will offer you the most flexibility during your travels.
SoFi Checking and Savings
Unfortunately, there aren’t any travel cards that allow you to load INR, meaning you’ll be charged a currency conversion fee if you use one in India. Instead, look for debit cards and credit cards that don’t charge for currency conversion. Reduced fees for ATM withdrawals should always be a factor in your comparison.
Things can go missing, wallets picked from your pocket and cards can get swallowed up by ATMs, so make sure you have different spending options. A debit card and credit card combination will give you the best results, you may also want to bring some extra cash as backup — you can change it out easily enough for a competitive price.
Have a look at the different travel money products you can use in India and learn how each product works.
Credit cards are a good option because they are accepted almost everywhere, have excellent security measures and some come with travel insurance. A card without foreign transaction fees, like the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, will keep you from racking up unexpected charges during your stay.
Travel credit cards often also come with other useful benefits like travel insurance and the ability to earn rewards. You’ll want to compare travel credit cards and examine your own travel preferences to find one that best fits your needs.
You’ll find that most vendors accept Visa and Mastercard, while some large establishments may accept American Express and Discover cards as well.
|Merchant acceptance||ATM acceptance|
When you use your credit card in India, there’s a good chance you’ll pay foreign transaction and currency conversion fees.
Credit cards that come with foreign transaction fees tend to charge 2% to 3% per transaction. Before you use your card outside of the US, find out how much your card will charge you. Most travel credit cards eliminate foreign transaction fees altogether.
The Indian Finance Act allows merchants to levy a service tax on the purchase and sale of foreign currencies, which includes transactions. Banks can fix currency conversion charges depending on their internal cost structures. As a result, if a merchant offers to convert your bill into US dollars, you may want to pass and make your payment in rupees instead.
Explore top debit cards with no foreign transaction fees and travel credit cards by using the tabs to narrow down your options. Select Compare for up to four products to see their benefits side by side.
A debit card could be a good travel money choice to take to India. You’ll have access to cash each time you come across an ATM, without carrying lots of cash on you all at once. To avoid additional expenses, find a card that waives the fee for international ATM withdrawals like the one from Betterment Checking.
Since there are currently no travel cards that allow you to preload Indian rupees, you should look for a card with no foreign currency conversion fees to avoid any extra costs. Even though travel cards can be a convenient way to withdraw funds and spend over the counter, it may not seem to be the cheapest option when you factor in the extra fees.
You should always have some cash on you, ideally have some spending money in lower denominations and then keep a large amount in a hidden place. Whether you’re staying in small villages or big cities, you will find that many services, attractions and simply getting around will require you to use cash.
Banks and exchange offices will happily exchange foreign currency at a reasonable rate and with a small commission, if any commission at all. It helps if you can access online rates before you exchange so you can give yourself a rough idea of how much you should get and don’t get ripped off.
Security is the main advantage of using traveler’s checks. Each check has a unique serial number and can only be cashed with photo identification.
Fees are the main disadvantage. Banks charge you to get checks and to cash them. You’re better off using a debit or travel card which lets you make cheap or free ATM withdrawals to get Indian rupees.
The money used in India is called the Indian rupee (INR). It comes in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 notes — the 500 and 1000 note were demonetized in 2016.
If you’re a foreigner, you can bring up to 25,000 rupees into India, whereas returning residents can only bring 5,000 to 7,500 rupees into the country. There’s no restriction to the amount of foreign currency you can bring with you, though you’ll have to claim more than $5,000 cash at customs.
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ATMs are widely available in India and you should have no trouble finding one. Limits vary depending on the machine, but you should be able to withdraw up to your local bank’s ATM withdrawal limit. If not, 10,000 rupees ($150) is a standard amount to withdraw.
If possible, use a debit card that doesn’t charge international ATM fees, like the one from Betterment Checking.
Specific areas in India are out of bounds for US travelers. In more US-friendly spots it’s wise to use an elevated level of caution and avoid traveling alone.
Never wear flashy or luxury items out in public and keep your valuables at home. Conceal your wallet in your pocket or consider using a money belt to tuck your funds away out of arm’s reach. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
If you’re wondering how much money you’ll be spending on your trip to India, that’ll depend on your tastes and budgets. You can get by on as little as $10 a day or spend thousands just sleeping in a 5-star hotel. All prices are in US dollars.
|On a budget||Mid-range||Luxury|
|Meals||Street food or a thali (platter of various dishes)|
|A meal in a restaurant.|
|A meal at a Delhi or Mumbai famed culinary establishment.|
$250 for a meal and a glass of wine
|Activities||Even in big cities, most museums, parks, temples and attractions are free.||Ticket to an exhibition or a show.|
|All inclusive tour with a driver, luxury hotel, meals and day trips to major tourist destinations.|
$2,500 and up
|Accommodation||A basic guesthouse in the mountains, forest, small village or an ashram.|
$2–$4 per night
|India has a selection of the most luxurious hotels in the world.|
$10,000 for one night
Prices are approximate and are subject to change.
Jane spent just under two months traveling in India. She started in the north making her way from New Delhi to Uttar Pradesh so she could visit the Taj Mahal and the city of Varanasi, the spiritual capital of India. She finished her trip relaxing on the beaches of Goa. Her trip took her off the beaten track, through tourist spots and India’s bustling cities.
What travel money tips do you have for India?
India has a unique set of risks which is why you should give travel insurance a look. Travel insurance can protect against situations such as:
It is a country so dense, so stimulating to the senses and impulses that the first visit to India can be a shock to even the most road-hardened traveler. Find the right travel money to take to India so you can access your money cheaply and conveniently and fully experience the country’s rich cultural tapestry.Back to top
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