This is a pretty basic post, guys. But it’s something I get asked just about weekly so I know it’s on your mind! I have already written about how to handle money abroad, but you guys want tips specifically about how to handle RUPEES in India and how to get them. Some of you even want to know what bills are worth what here. So, I’m going to break down money in India and how to deal with rupees while traveling. If you’re headed to India, please also check out my India ebook which will plan out every aspect of your trip – it took 6 years of experience here and a whole summer to write the book. I’m so happy how it’s helping people explore India!
How to Handle Money in India
First, please DO read my post about how to safely handle money abroad (linked above). I recently wrote about the money crisis in India which was a tourism disaster, but do know that it has passed and it is NO LONGER an issue in India. 1,000 notes are no longer valid.
How to Get Rupees BEFORE your trip to India
While it’s nearly impossible to TAKE rupees out of the country (to prevent tax evasion you can take no more than 10,000 Rs.), you can bring rupees into the country.
In the USA, you can get Rupees at AAA. My parents got 50,000 there before their trip to India. You can also order them through some banks, but not all. There will be different exchange rates, so check on that.
In England, you used to be able to get Rupees at Thomas Cook. But, I was recently told a by a friend who tried that they stopped doing this. You will have to call them and check and ask your bank if they can order some in. Some people will say that you cannot get rupees outside of India, but you can: I’ve done it both through my smalltown bank and AAA but that is in the USA.
Other than these countries, I do not have details further, but I would imagine it would be similar in Canada and countries in the EU. Check with your big travel agencies and also your bank and banks do exchange money, too. Don’t be alarmed if the wording is “buying foreign currency” as technically, that is what you are doing.
How to Get Rupees DURING Your Trip in India
There really isn’t any reason to stock up on Rupees before you come, in my opinion. I usually keep 10,000 ($115) or less on me at all times in case I lose any or god forbid got robbed. So, you can come with no rupees and be fine.
I always travel with some USD in cases of emergency. Bring about $100 in $20’s with you to save and put somewhere else hidden away.
When you get to the airport, first thing, go to an ATM and take out money! It’s that easy. ATM fees are almost always cheaper than doing foreign currency exchange at a counter at the airport.
If you bank with my bank, Charles Schwab, they reimburse for any ATM fees and foreign transfer bank charges. I’m so obsessed with my bank. It’s perfect for travelers and saves me tons of money.
What is each bill worth and how much should I take out at the ATM?
As of the time of writing this post, June 2017, you can get the following bills/coins in India:
- coins: you can get lots of different coins here, but the largest, 10 Rupees, is worth 15 cents. I often leave any coins as tips when I travel.
- 5 Rs bill (also a coin) = 8 cents
- 10 Rs bill = 15 cents
- 20 Rs bill = 31 cents
- 50 Rs bill = 77 cents
- 100 Rs bill = $1.55
- 500 Rs bill = $7.76
- 2000 Rs bill = $31.06
As you can see there is a huge difference between the 500 note and the 2000 note which is the largest note. This is because recently the 1000 rs note was taken out of circulation with no news that it would re-enter.
Because of this, it’s difficult to break 2000 Rs. notes outside of fancy restaurants, supermarkets, and hotels. When you can, try to break this big bill so that you have smaller change. Having smaller change will also make it easier to negotiate when you are shopping.
As I said, I take out no more than 10,000 rupees at a time which is the maximum amount you can take out at most if not all ATM’s. You could, though, use the ATM twice in a row and take 20,000 Rs which would be if you had a pay a week-long hotel in cash! I don’t see this happening often. But, 10,000 will likely last you around 5-7 days in India. Here is a breakdown of my India backpacking budget so you know how much to expect to spend (I go for $20/day).
If you need a large amount of money, compare the rates from your bank ATM fees and foriegn currency transfer fees to the fees of Western Union. Often, it’s cheaper to send yourself money on Western Union which is very simple in India and can be picked up at most travel agent offices.
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