Going to India? A guide to using a credit card in India | finder.com
Tourist in India overlooking Taj-Mahal

Using a credit card in India

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Rich in culture and history, India finds scores of overseas travelers making their way to its shores every year. Using a credit card in India — especially in the country’s major metropolitan areas, like New Delhi and Mumbai — is a fairly hassle-free experience.

Large establishments, hotels, restaurants, shops and most online retailers allow you pay by credit card. However, several smaller vendors accept only cash, so it’s ideal that you keep local currency handy at all times.

Before you depart for India, take some time to understand when and where you can use your credit card, how much it might cost you and the alternatives you have.

Our pick for use overseas

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
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Promoted

Compare credit cards for use in India

When picking a credit card for your trip to India, make sure that you’re looking at travel credit cards. A common feature of travel cards is their lack of foreign transaction fees. These fees are often small, but they’ll add up every time you use your card while overseas. Another perk of travel credit cards are their rewards. In fact, you may even be able to get to India with credit card miles.

Name Product Foreign Transaction Fee Annual Fee Purchase APR
None
$95
18.24% to 25.24% variable
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
None
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($89 thereafter)
18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24% variable
Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
None
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
18.24% to 25.24% variable
40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
None
$450
19.24% to 26.24% variable
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
None
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($49 thereafter)
16.24% to 26.24% variable
Earn 25,000 enrollment FlexPoints worth $375 in travel after spending $2,000 in the first 4 months. Rates & Fees
None
$0
15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. See Rates and Fees.
None
$0
14.24%, 20.24% or 25.24% variable
An 15 months 0% intro APR period on both purchases and balance transfers, plus zero foreign transaction fees, makes this is a strong well-rounded card. See Rates and Fees
None
$149
15.99% to 25.99% variable
40,000 bonus LifeMiles after first card use
None
$195
17.24% variable
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
None
$495
17.24% variable
Receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.

Compare up to 4 providers

Potential credit card fees in India

When you use your credit card in India, there’s a good chance you’ll pay foreign transaction and currency conversion fees.

Foreign transaction 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. Some cards eliminate foreign transaction fees altogether, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard®.

Currency conversion fees

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.

Which credit card issuers are accepted in India?

Merchant acceptance
ATM acceptance
Visa
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh
Mastercard
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh
American Express
exclamation point iconMedium
check mark iconHigh
Discover
check mark iconHigh
exclamation point iconMedium

Should I use my card to get cash?

No, not unless it’s an emergency. While you may be tempted to use your credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM, remember that you’ll typically pay a cash advance fee. Interest often begins accruing from the day of the transaction, and APRs for cash advances is typically higher than that for purchases.

This table gives you an indication of much your cash advance in India could cost you.

interest rates and charges screenshot

list of fees screenshot

What is a cash advance fee?

A cash advance fee is assessed when you withdraw cash from your credit card. It’s usually the greater of a flat fee or a percentage of the transaction. For example, the cash advance fee for the Chase Sapphire Preferred is either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.

Is it safe to use my credit card in India?

If you exercise caution, you can use your credit card in India without worry. Besides, most American credit cards protect your transaction of $50 more against fraud. Keep your credit card safe with these tips.

  • Safeguard your PIN. Use your free hand to cover the keypad when you enter your PIN. This keeps it safe from prying eyes and hidden cameras.
  • Use ATMS with care. If you end up using your credit card to withdraw cash, look for an ATM in a crowded place, preferably attached to a bank. Avoid using ATMs in isolated locations.
  • Don’t use any ATM that doesn’t look right. If you notice any obstruction when inserting your card or if the keypad is hard to press, it’s best to cancel your transaction. The machine could include a credit card skimmer that can steal your card’s information.

Keeping your credit card (physically) safe

Pickpocketing and handbags being stolen are not uncommon in India. Keep your belongings close to you at all times, especially when you’re in crowded places. Keep your guard up, even when you think you’re in a desolate place.

Don’t let your credit card out of your sight when paying bills to avoid your credit card being skimmed, even at restaurants and bars.

Consider using a money belt or a neck pouch to keep your cards and important documents with you at all times.

Using cash in India

You’ll find a number of establishments in smaller towns and even popular tourist destinations that don’t accept credit or debit cards. This also applies to most restaurants (or dhabas) that dot India’s highways. If you’re traveling by train, you’ll need cash to pay for food and other supplies when on board. And rural India remains largely bereft of ATMs and credit card machines. To the point: Keep cash with you, especially when you’re moving out of big cities.

India after demonetization

In November 2016, India’s prime minister announced the demonetization of all 500 and 1,000 rupee notes. This essentially rendered some 86% of the paper currency in India useless unless exchanged through banks within a given time frame. One positive result is a considerable increase in credit card machines at retailers. As a result, you can expect most retailers in such big cities as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Bangalore to have credit card machines.

Some merchants discourage credit and debit card payments because they have to pay a transaction fees to their banks for the convenience. Others tend to charge their customers 1% or 2% extra to cover for the fee. However, this practice is considered illegal by the Reserve Bank of India.

Magstripe and chip credit cards

Several American banks have moved toward chip-enabled credit cards, but magstripes are still quite common. The situation is similar in India. But with credit card cloning and skimming on the rise, chip cards are safer to use than magstripe counterparts. Using a chip card with a PIN provides another layer of security.

The Reserve Bank of India is phasing out cards with magnetic stripes by December 31, 2018. From January 2016, all new banking customers in India are receiving chip-enabled cards.

Can I use my chip-and-signature card in India?

If you dip your chip-and-signature card at a point-of-sale terminal in India, you’ll need to enter a PIN. To avoid using your PIN, simply get the merchant to swipe your card instead, because terminals that support chip cards also allow swiping. In this case, you’ll need to sign for your purchase.

How to prepare before traveling to India

  1. Go Visa or Mastercard. These are most commonly accepted cards in India. While you’ll find merchants that accept American Express and Diner’s Club, they’re few and far between.
  2. Get a card with no foreign transaction fees. Depending on the card you currently use, you might need to pay up to 3% of each transaction in feess. Instead, consider getting a card that comes with no fee for overseas use.
  3. Notify your bank. Credit card issuers are on the alert for fraudulent transactions. If your bank sees an international transaction on your card, it could consider it suspicious and place a hold on your account. Inform your bank before you leave the US to prevent blocked charges.
  4. Keep emergency numbers at hand. You never know when you’ll need customer service, so keep relevant numbers handy. These include phone numbers for emergency card replacements. Your bank may even be able to give a local Indian phone number.
  5. Know where to get money from. There’s a good chance you’ll end up needing cash rather early into your visit. So plan where you’ll get cash from ahead of time. Learn whether you can use specific ATMs for free. Most ATMs in India come with a maximum daily withdrawal limit of 15,000 rupees.

Next steps

Before packing your bags for India, ask yourself:

  • Which cards will I use? Take two or more chip-enabled credit cards that don’t come with foreign transaction fees. Visa and Mastercard are the most commonly accepted.
  • Have I informed my card provider? Let your card provider know of your travel plans to avoid dealing with a blocked or suspended cards or transactions. Keep important card numbers handy.
  • How much will I pay in fees? Learn about fees in advance, or you could be in for a rude shock when you receive your statement.
  • How will I get cash? Consider looking into a no-fee debit or ATM card to meet your requirements for cash.

Stick by our guide to avoid trouble when using your credit card in India.

See more guides on using a credit card in other countries.

Frequently asked questions

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4 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    BruceFebruary 19, 2019

    Are Citibank credit cards widely accepted in India?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      CharisseFebruary 20, 2019Staff

      Hi Bruce,

      Yes, Citibank credit cards are widely accepted in India, wherever you find payment terminals with Visa and MasterCard logos.

      Most large establishments, hotels, restaurants and shops in India accept payments by credit card so it should not be a problem if you use your Citibank credit card while you’re in India. Just be aware of the fees you may incur like foreign transaction and currency conversion fees.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Charisse

  2. Default Gravatar
    YoshihiroOctober 15, 2018

    Hi.
    I’m Japanese.
    I can speak English a little bit.
    So I could only understand the contents written on this link a little

    I’m waiting for your reply.

    • Default Gravatar
      joelmarceloOctober 16, 2018

      Hi Yoshihiro,

      Thanks for leaving a question on finder.

      There is an option to translate a page if you are using Google Chrome. Simply right click in the middle of the page and click on Translate> Options> Translate to Japanese.

      Please send me a message if you need anything else. :)

      Cheers,
      Joel

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