• Money in India: How To Get Rupees & Handle Money While Traveling in India

Money in India: How To Get Rupees & Handle Money While Traveling in India

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which was a tourism disaster, but do know that it has passed and it is NO LONGER an issue in India. 1,000 notes are no longer valid.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.

goa monsoon this is india

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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Money in India: How To Get Rupees & Handle Money While Traveling in India


About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Hippie in Heels, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Hippie in Heels has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Christine Wilhelm August 9, 2017 at 12:37 am - Reply

    l will never again buy foreign currency in the USA! It is a waste of money with some exchange rates as bad as taking one third value for fees. Traveling the world has never been easier than now. I bought a cheap all band-width, two SIM ports, unlocked Moto 4G Plus just for travel and carry my iPhone with US number. I downloaded EX Currency and Uber apps before I left home. I have been exchanging foreign currency for over 50 years (Indian Rupees X 3) but my latest 2017 trip for a month in Egypt was my best time ever for handling money. I loved my Charles Schwab and Capital One cards due to no foreign exchange or ATM fee policies and ATM’s are everywhere!! I loved international Uber and it is in almost every major city in the world. NO more hassles with city taxi drivers!!!Hurrah!
    American Express Checks are obsolete but I am still swearing by my $9 cloth money belts from Walmart! I carried a few ones, fives, and tens in my wallet for tips. My twenties and card copies were in my belt. I never travel with or accept $100 bills as they are the most counterfeited in the world and few businesses will take them. (I received bad money in Panama years ago from a bank and I had to confront the bank’s president before getting it straightened out).
    XE Currency converter and Uber apps are mandatory downloads for all modern international travel. Note: Before using a foreign ATM always DO convert dollars (become proficient using XE Currency) to pounds or rupees before using ATMs and choose in-country currencies as U.S. banks charge extra for lazy dollar use mistakes.

  2. […] Before leaving the airport, you’ll want to get money. You can bring rupees into the USA (bought from places like AAA or Thomas Cook), you can bring foreign currency and change it to rupees, or you can use your ATM card and draw out rupees. This article has what you need to know about handling money in India. […]

  3. Marise July 20, 2018 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    I am travelling to India on a Religious programme for 27 days max and I live in a EU land. I have heard that Euros are not welcome in India. So, at the airport I could just walk up to an ATM and draw the cash, how much at a time. The first 2 weeks I will need about 5000 Rupees. Please advise and Tks.

    • Rachel Jones July 21, 2018 at 5:09 am - Reply

      No, you cannot pay in Euro. You need rupees. Yes, you can draw out – the max is 10,000 INR at a time.

  4. william July 21, 2018 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    I’m travelling to Kerala this December. My accommodation is around Rs 110.000 for the 32 days to be paid on arrival and was wondering is it best to withdraw the money from a cash machine over a number of days? I’m a little anxious because in 2006 I was in a town called Chaudi around 4 miles from Palolem Beach in Goa and my card got swallowed by a State of India cash machine and it caused a lot of inconvenience. I’m from the U.K. What is the maximum amount per withdrawal per day?

    • Rachel Jones July 23, 2018 at 12:08 am - Reply

      Hey William, I think that must have been unlucky as in 6 years I’ve never had a card taken! You can only withdraw 10,000 at a time, so you can but it will take many withdraws. Better to do an online payment if they will allow it or pay by card there?

  5. Rose Bannister August 26, 2018 at 12:33 am - Reply

    We are travelling to India in 3 wks ( my husband and myself ) staying in various hotels with a tour group and guide to Delhi, Agra, Ragasthan, and a few other places, my concern is this, while meals are included in our stay Is it safe to buy food outside on our travels? and how safe is it to withdraw Indian Rupees for things like shopping etc? and where should I best get the local currency ? should I take some US dollars ? Is it safe or will I get ripped off ?
    Cheers Rose

  6. Daniel B. October 29, 2018 at 9:25 am - Reply

    Thanks for all your posts. This one on money and exchange has been particularly helpful. Lots of good stuff. I think I’m prepared now. I’ll be in India on Tuesday. Cheers!!!

  7. Katerina December 16, 2018 at 11:27 pm - Reply

    Hi Rachel,

    I wonder if you can bring other currency in the country and just exchange it. So you avoid to take money out from ATM.

    I look forward to your reply.

    • Meenakshi Bharti December 19, 2018 at 3:14 pm - Reply

      Yes, you can bring other currency to India and get it exchanged. But i think ATM is the best option.

  8. William January 12, 2019 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    Rachel many years ago I went to Patnem beach near Palolem and found bamboo accommodation called ‘Home’. Do you know if it is still there and is Patnem beach still quiet? William

  9. Alyssa Foster February 5, 2019 at 10:44 pm - Reply

    Just signed up for AAA and they are using Travelex which doesn’t offer INR exchanges…

    • Rachel Jones February 6, 2019 at 10:28 pm - Reply

      Not sure about that – they exchanged mine just fine, maybe something has changed since

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