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How to withdraw and exchange money in India


Date01 Sep 2021


Before you set off for India, you should think about how you can withdraw or exchange money in India. To get you started, we have compiled the most important information for you in this article - taking money with you, changing money, withdrawing money and paying with a credit card. It is inevitable that you will need to withdraw money in India when staying long term. Therefore, you should consider opening an Indian account or getting a German credit card at favourable conditions.

Take money from Germany to India

Bringing money in euros from Germany to India is no problem, as long as you don't exceed the limit of EUR 10,000 . If you want to bring more than EUR 10,000 in cash, you must apply in writing to German customs. Cash and foreign currency worth more than USD 5,000 must be declared when entering India.

You’re not allowed to take Indian Rupees from Germany to India! Even if a German bank exchanges your money into Rupees, it is not allowed to bring this money to India! 

Travellers’ cheques pose an alternative. Although they are not commonly used in India anymore, some hotels and the State Bank of India will accept them. A fee of up to 10% is often charged for cashing travellers' cheques.

We recommend you to bring a relatively small amount of Euros, which you will either exchange in India or keep it with you as an emergency reserve. 

Exchange money in India

To exchange money in India is really easy. For that you can use the exchange offices at the airport, in hotels, travel agencies or banks. The exchange rates are usually higher at the airport and in banks compared to hotels or travel agencies. 

To avoid paying the exchange rate altogether, you can withdraw money directly at the airport. 

Withdraw money in India 

At every Indian airport you will find ATMs which accept international credit cards (Visa and Master Card). Even with your meastro-EC-Card you will be able to withdraw money at some cash machines in India. On the contrary, v-Pay or giro cards are not accepted

Most ATMs charge a fee of INR 200-300 for third-party use. In addition, most German credit cards charge a transaction fee of 1.5 % to 2% when withdrawing money. For maestro EC cards it is often more. You pay this fee on every transaction, so it is always worth withdrawing the maximum amount of INR 10,000. It is possible to withdraw INR 10,000 several times in a row.

If you want to withdraw money in India, make sure that the ATMs have a Visa, Master or maestro card sign. International credit cards are definitely accepted at the following ATMs: HDFC, Kotak, ICICI, Indusland, YES Bank, CitiBank, HSBC. In big cities you will find ATMs on every corner, but in the countryside they are less common.

It is a good idea to carry more than just one credit card with you when travelling to India. That way you’ll always have a replacement card if your credit card is blocked. To prevent your bank from blocking your card due to suspicious use, you should give them a notice of your travel in advance! 

Pay with credit card in India 

Paying by credit card in India is quite common. Since demonetization in 2016 even small shops provide the possibility of paying by card. In big cities that will not be an issue. In rural areas on the other hand you should not count on being able to use your credit card everywhere. Credit card payments are subject to the same bank-dependent transaction fees as cash withdrawals.

You cannot usually pay for taxi and rickshaw rides and at street stalls with your credit card. It is also better to give tips in rupees.

Good to know

When you withdraw or exchange money in India you should always try to get rid of the high denomination notes and change them into low denomination ones. Taxi drivers or small shops can’t change the highest denomination note of INR 2000. So whenever you get the chance, get rid of these notes to be able to actually use your Rupees. 

In addition, don’t get confused by the notes and coins which are not uniform in India. There are new and old notes in which the same denominations have different colours. For most of the notes it doesn’t matter if you have an old or new one. ATTENTION: The 1000 Rupee note was abolished during demonetization in 2016 and the old 500 Rupee notes were completely withdrawn from circulation. Don’t accept any of these both notes because you will not be able to get rid of them anywhere!

We hope this article helped you to get an overview of how to handle your money in India. Please share your experience on how to withdraw and exchange money in India! 

Written by: Tanja Holbe

Cover Photo: Money Exchange (private archive)

Photo: Rupies (Credit: rupixen.com - Unsplash

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