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Travel money guide: India

Discover how to turn your dollars into rupees and pay your way through India.

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.

Find the most valuable and easiest ways to take, use and spend money in India. Decide if travel, debit or credit cards are the best ways to access your cash while you’re traveling in India.

Which option is right for your next trip?

Compare travel cards for India

Rates last updated April 21st, 2018
Name Product Foreign Currency Conversion Fee Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Cash Advance Fee Annual fee Product Description
Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
0% of transaction value
$0
$10 or 5% of the transaction, whichever is greater
$0 annual fee for the first year ($89 thereafter)
Enjoy 40000
bonus miles after you spend on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit toward an eligible travel purchase.
Simmons Bank Visa® Platinum
2%
of transaction value
$0
The Simmons Bank Visa® Platinum Card offers multiple perks, including one of the lowest available APRs on the market.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card
0% of transaction value
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants.
BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card
0% of transaction value
$0
Ditch the restrictions of typical airline rewards cards. Any airline, any hotel, anytime. No blackout dates.

Compare up to 4 providers

Promoted
Travelex Money Card

Why we like: Travelex Money Card

Load GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD, JPY or MXN onto this prepaid travel money card and use it at millions of locations worldwide.

  • Not linked to your bank account for safety.
  • Convert currency with a 5.50% Foreign Exchange Fee
  • Contactless payments
  • Reload, withdraw, or replace your card for free.

    How much should I budget to travel in India?

    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.

    On a budgetMid-rangeLuxury
    Street food or a thali (platter of various dishes)
    $0.20–$2
    A meal in a restaurant.
    $10–$20
    A meal at a Delhi or Mumbai famed culinary establishment.
    $250 for a meal and a glass of wine
    Even in big cities, most museums, parks, temples and attractions are free.Ticket to an exhibition or a show.
    $5–$10
    All inclusive tour with a driver, luxury hotel, meals and day trips to major tourist destinations.
    $2,500 and up
    A basic guesthouse in the mountains, forest, small village or an ashram.
    $2–$4 per night
    Mid-range hotel.
    $20–$50
    India has a selection of the most luxurious hotels in the world.
    $10,000 for one night

    Exchange rate history

    The Indian currency has grown in value relative to the dollar over the past couple of years. In 2007, $1 got you about 50 rupees, but today, you’ll get approximately 65 rupees for every dollar. Future movements of the currency pair are difficult to predict, but even wild fluctuations in the value of INR to USD shouldn’t affect travelers at all.

    USD to INR for the last 10 days

    Apr 11 Apr 12 Apr 13 Apr 14 Apr 15 Apr 16 Apr 17 Apr 18 Apr 19 Apr 20
    1 USD = 65.1950 Inverse: 0.0153 65.2857 Inverse: 0.0153 65.2062 Inverse: 0.0153 65.2062 Inverse: 0.0153 65.2056 Inverse: 0.0153 65.4393 Inverse: 0.0153 65.6824 Inverse: 0.0152 65.7200 Inverse: 0.0152 66.1250 Inverse: 0.0151 66.2083 Inverse: 0.0151

    USD to INR for the last 10 months

    Jun 2017 Jul 2017 Aug 2017 Sep 2017 Oct 2017 Nov 2017 Dec 2017 Jan 2018 Feb 2018 Mar 2018
    1 USD = 64.4976 Inverse: 0.0155 64.3350 Inverse: 0.0155 64.0840 Inverse: 0.0156 64.2937 Inverse: 0.0156 65.1141 Inverse: 0.0154 64.7705 Inverse: 0.0154 64.0205 Inverse: 0.0156 63.8901 Inverse: 0.0157 64.9678 Inverse: 0.0154 65.0250 Inverse: 0.0154
    How to send money to IndiaBack to top

    Travel card, debit card or credit card?

    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 be always be a factor in your comparison.
    How to use a credit card in India

    Travel money for India at a glance

    Travel Money OptionProsCons
    Debit cards for travel
    • Access to your own money
    • Widely accepted
    • PIN security
    • Can be cancelled if card is lost or stolen
    • No back-up option for lost or stolen cards
    • May charge ATM transaction fees
    • May charge currency conversion fees
    Prepaid travel money cards
    • Comes with a back-up if the card is compromised
    • Not linked to your bank account
    • Can reload money online easily
    • Pay directly or withdraw from ATM
    • Rupees cannot be preloaded
    • Some cards charge a reload fee
    • Can take up to 6 days for a transfer
    Credit cards for travel
    • Accepted everywhere
    • Built-in security and anti-fraud measures
    • Some cards have features such as complimentary insurance or reward points earning
    • ATM cash withdrawals may attract cash advances and higher fees
    Traveler’s checks
    • Acceptance
    • Security
    • Can be costly with initial purchase charges
    • Not all merchants accept traveler’s checks
    Cash
    • Payment flexibility
    • Convenience
    • Difficult to manage expenses
    • Higher risk of theft

    This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.

    How each travel money product works in India

    Have a look at the different travel money products you can use in India and learn how each product works.

    Using a debit card

    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. Because you’re spending your own money, you avoid interest charges. Find a card that waives the fee for international ATM withdrawals and doesn’t charge a monthly account keeping fee.

    • Tip: Citibank has a large presence in India. You can make cheap ATM withdrawal using a Citibank debit or credit card.

    Using a prepaid travel card

    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.

    Using a credit card

    Credit cards are a good option because they are accepted almost everywhere, have excellent security measures and some come with travel insurance. A credit card and another form of travel money will give you spending flexibility in India.

    Travel with peace of mind and compare international travel insurance for India

    Using a traveler’s checks

    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 check 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 rupee.

    • Tip: Traveler’s checks are good for locking in a good exchange rate. So if you watch the forex market, get them while the getting’s good.

    Paying with cash in India

    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 just 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 commision, 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.

    • Tip: Indian rupee notes can get pretty scruffy and ripped, and overly creased or otherwise damaged notes will not be accepted. People love to try and give them to tourists.
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    Jane's Indian sabbatical

    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 cards did you take with you?

    • Bank of America debit card
    • BankAmericard

    Why did you take these cards?

    Jane says she brought the Bank of America debit card because its part of the Global ATM Alliance, so she didn’t pay any ATM withdrawel fees. She brought the BankAmericard because it waived the foreign exchange fee and rewards for spending. She used this card to pay for larger expenses on her trip such as bookings or flights.

    What about using ATMs?

    Jane says she used ATMs inside banks whenever possible and had no problems locating a machine – the standard charge was about $4. She did say that some machines took up to a minute to process the transaction.

    Where could and couldn’t you use these cards?

    Visa and Mastercard are accepted if the business is setup to handle credit card payments. American Express cards could be used, but only at high end retailers and businesses only. As far as using her card for day to day payments, she says if a place doesn’t look like it’s going to accept card payments, it probably isn’t.

    What’s your travel money recommendation for India?

    Since ATMs can be found in large cities, having a debit card to spend and withdraw cash from the ATM is key. Just always keep extra cash on hand incase your run into a situation where credit or debit cards are not accepted.

    What travel money tips do you have for India?

    • Tricks and scams. Be aware of scams that can be anything from a detour in a taxi, thieves trying to pick pockets or fake tourist bureaus at New Delhi train station and around Connaught Place. Jump on blogs and official websites to read up on the latest tourist scams.
    • Bargaining. Tourists are frequently charged higher prices for goods in India. Don’t be afraid to bargain. Sellers don’t expect you to pay the asking price. Bargaining is a part of the culture in India so don’t be shy, but don’t take it too seriously, either. If you agree to a price make sure you are happy with it because once you agree, you’re obliged to pay it.
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    Indian currency

    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.
    indian-rupee-banknotes

    Buying currency in the US

    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.

    Why you need a combination of travel money options

    Things can go missing, wallets picked from your pocket and cards can get swallowed up by ATMs, so don’t rely on one single spending method. 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 get this changed easily enough for a competitive price.

    ATMs in India

    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.

    • Tip: If the ATM is slow to respond, don’t worry, sometimes it takes a good half minute for an ATM to process the transaction.

    Travel insurance for India

    India has enchanted travellers for centuries. From the Taj Mahal to the foot of the Greater Himalayas, there’s so much to experience and see in 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:

    • Flight delays
    • Stolen cash
    • Rental vehicle excess
    • Overseas medical emergencies
    • Lost luggage
    Details Features
    Seven Corners Trip Protection Insurance
    Seven Corners Trip Protection Insurance
    Travel with a smile - protect your trip cost, your medical expenses, & your belongings.
    • Emergency Accident & Sickness Medical Expenses up to $250,000
    • Trip Cancellation – 100% of Trip Cost
    • Trip Interruption – up to 150% of Trip Cost
    • Political Evacuation - $20,000
    • Lost, Stolen or Damaged Baggage – up to $2,500
    • Emergency Medical Evacuation – up to $1 million
    Go to site More info
    Travelex Travel Max
    Travelex Travel Max
    TravelEx's most comprehensive protection plan for the comprehensive traveler. Offers optional Cancel For Any Reason upgrade.
    • Trip Cancellation - 100% of Insured Trip Cost
    • Trip Interruption - 150% of Insured Trip Cost
    • Trip Delay - $1000
    • Medical Expense Benefits - $100,000
    Go to site More info
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Essential
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Essential
    RoamRight’s Essential travel insurance package can be broken down into three critical parts: Trip Cancellation insurance, tourist health insurance, and baggage insurance.
    • Cancellation Cover - 100% Cost of Trip
    • Emergency Medical Expenses - $15,000
    • Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation - $150,000
    • Baggage and Personal Effects Cover - $750
    Go to site More info
    STA Travel Standard International
    STA Travel Standard International
    Get affordable cover for the essentials of options with STA's mid-level cover policy. This option will still provide up to $1500 in luggage cover and up to $100,000 in medical cover.
    • Trip Cancellation Cover - 100% of trip cost insured up to $10,000
    • Emergency Medical Expenses Cover - Up to $100,000
    • Baggage and Personal Effects - Up to $1,500
    • Trip Delay - Up to $500
    Go to site More info
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Preferred
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Preferred
    As the name implies, the Preferred package provides coverage for most trips and vacations.
    • Cancellation Cover - 100% Cost of Trip
    • Emergency Accident & Medical Expenses - $50,000
    • Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation - $500,000
    • Accidental Death and Dismemberment - $10,000
    Go to site More info
    Travelex Cancel for Any Reason
    Travelex Cancel for Any Reason
    Cancel For Any reason upgrade available with the Travel Max plan. Cancel for any reason - no questions asked.
    • Reimburses up to 75% of the insured trip cost
    • 100% cover if delayed to departure and loose at least 30%
    Go to site More info
    Atlas Travel
    Atlas Travel
    Provides customizable coverage for specific losses. Cover can be tailored to provide a balance between the basic essentials and premium cover.
    • Illness and Injury Cover - Up to $1 million
    • Emergency Medical Evacuation - Up to $1 million
    • Lost Checked Luggage - Up to $500
    • Travel Delay - $100/day up to 2 days
    Go to site More info
    Atlas Premium
    Atlas Premium
    Provides quality cover for a range of benefits with higher cover limits. Premium plan is perfect for travellers with health concerns looking for total protective cover.
    • Illness and Injury Cover - Up to $2 million
    • Emergency Medical Evacuation - Up to $1 million
    • Lost Checked Luggage - Up to $1,000
    • Travel Delay - $200/day up to 2 days
    Go to site More info
    Travelex Flight Insure Plus
    Travelex Flight Insure Plus
    Provides option to choose between different levels of flight insurance protection.
    • Flight Accident AD&D - Up to $1 Million
    • Baggage - $2,000
    • Medical Expense Benefits - $2,500
    • Medical Evacuation / Repatriation - $25,000
    Go to site More info
    STA Travel Explorer Plus
    STA Travel Explorer Plus
    Get premiere cover for a whole range of options with STA's premium policy. This option will still provide up to $100,000 in medical expense cover and up to $3,000 in cancellation cover.
    • Trip Cancellation Cover - $3,000
    • Emergency Medical Expenses Cover - Up to $100,000
    • Baggage and Personal Effects - Up to $2,500
    • Trip Delay - Up to $1,000
    Go to site More info
    Allianz Domestic Travel Insurance
    Allianz Domestic Travel Insurance
    Allianz Domestic Travel Insurance makes sure you are covered incase your planned trip unexpectedly goes awry.
    • Trip coverage - Depends on plan
    • Baggage coverage - Up to $1,000
    • 24-hour hotline assistance
    • Existing medical coverage - Up to $500,000
    Go to site More info
    Allianz International Travel Insurance
    Allianz International Travel Insurance
    If you frequently travel abroad and want extra coverage in case you get sick, injured, or need to cancel your trip, Allianz International Travel Insurance is the perfect solution.
    • Trip coverage - Depends on plan
    • Baggage coverage - Up to $1,000
    • 24-hour hotline assistance
    • Existing medical coverage - Up to $1,000,000
    Go to site More info

    Bottom line

    It is a country so dense, so stimulating to the senses and impulses that the first visit to India can be 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 tapestry of culture.

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