Rupee notes come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 2000. Each note has its value written in 17 languages, including English.

Due to the Rupee of low monetary value, prices can easily reach astronomical numbers. Therefore, the Indians use lakh and crore. A lakh is equal to Rs1,00,000 and a crore is Rs1,00,000,00. You should quickly get used to handling these terms as you will find them as soon as you look for a place to rent.

Currency exchange in India

It is generally forbidden to import or export Indian rupees. Only Indian residents who go abroad for short periods of time can bring small amounts of money along. Therefore, you will have to change money in India.

You can exchange money in Indian banks or private exchange offices. Rates in private exchange offices are usually slightly better than in banks. You may even be able to negotiate your rate, although this can make money-exchange a very time-consuming process.

Always keep the receipt of the money bag, as you need it to transfer the rupees back to your home currency.

Traveler’s checks in India

Traveler’s checks can be exchanged at most Indian banks and larger hotels, but you may have trouble using them at smaller exchange offices and stores in general.

To make sure your traveler’s checks are widely accepted, you should buy checks from well-known brands, such as American Express. Checks must be denominated in US dollars or sterling.

The exchange of traveler’s checks in India is always free. If you are asked to pay a fee, you should go find another exchange office.

Debit cards and credit cards in India

Debit and credit cards are becoming more common in India. Large hotels, shops, restaurants and also many service providers will accept international credit cards , such as American Express, MasterCard and Visa . However, they may require a minimum payment of Rs250.

If your foreign debit card will be accepted it depends on the business policies of the respective store. In small grocery stores, you will still have to pay in cash.

Keep in mind that your home bank will probably charge you for using your credit card in India . Poor exchange rates, combined with these additional charges, can add up to large credit card fees. If you plan to stay in India for some time, consider getting a credit card from an Indian bank.

This way you are charged directly in rupees and do not have to worry about currency exchange rates. However, keep in mind that getting an Indian credit card involves a lot of paperwork.

ATM in India

ATMs are not yet common in India, although more and more are being installed. Nor are they distributed evenly, geographically, so you may have trouble finding ATMs in rural areas.

You can generally use all cards that are connected to global payment systems , such as Maestro, MasterCard, American Express and Visa . Some Indian banks charge a fee for ATM withdrawals .

Although ATMs are the most convenient way to withdraw money in India, your withdrawal amounts may be limited. This is especially problematic if you have to make regular payments in cash (ie your rent). If your withdrawal is above the ATM limit there is nothing you can do except withdraw money from a bank counter.

Indian ATMs usually pay in Rs100, Rs500 and Rs2000 notes. In addition, you should always bring some change, as you might need for incidental expenses, such as the use of rickshaw trips. Rickshaw drivers are usually neither capable nor willing to split their bills.