Where to buy Indian rupees

Where to buy Indian rupees

If you need Indian rupees (INR), you’ve come to the right place. Find out everything you need to know, including how to get the best exchange rates and pay the lowest fees when sending money to India. Whether you’re travelling to India or sending money to a loved one, discover the best ways to get Indian rupees.

Can you get Indian rupees outside India?

Most trips overseas typically involve a trip to a bank, a bureau de change or the Post Office beforehand. That’s because, despite the advancement of debit and credit card technology, it’s always advisable to have some local currency to hand when you land. That’s not always easy with Indian rupees ().

Circulation of the rupee in India is heavily regulated, which means that the import or export of the currency is strictly prohibited. While exporting Indian rupees is banned for non-Indian residents, Indian nationals can travel abroad with up to 25,000 (approx. £250). 

Consequently, there are a limited number of Indian rupees outside of India, meaning most travellers have to buy their rupees upon arrival to the country.

Indian rupees

How to get rupees when you arrive in India

It’s worth remembering that there is a 5,000 USD limit on the amount of cash you can bring into India. Anything above this amount will need to be declared to Indian customs. However, if you want to exceed this limit, you can bring up to 10,000 USD in cash and traveller’s cheques combined.  

Once you’re in India, there are several options for exchanging your local currency for rupees. 

The first is to use a bureau de change or a moneychanger service at the airport. Both Delhi and Kolkata airports have moneychangers and bureaux de change before customs/passport control. These places are probably best avoided, however, as the exchange rate they offer is usually very poor.

Another option is to use a high street moneychanger. While this may be convenient, there is a risk of being conned with out-of-date notes. However, they tend to offer better rates than the bureaux de change. Additionally, for larger denominations like $100 bills, €100 and £50 notes, some moneychangers offer better rates than lower denominations.  

Can I use the ATM to withdraw rupees in India?

Yes, but ATMs in India are often unreliable. In some cases, there are very long queues, limits (around 10,000 INR) to what you can withdraw and expensive transaction costs for using a foreign bank card. 

Send rupees to India

Gone are the days of stashing money in your suitcase when you travel overseas. If you want to send money to India, you can transfer rupees directly to your or a loved one’s bank account with Azimo. Simply pay with a debit or credit card, and your rupees will arrive the next day.

All you need to send rupees to an Indian bank account is your recipient’s:

  • Full name.
  • Bank name.
  • Bank account number.
  • 11-character IFS Code or IFSC.

IFSC means Indian Financial System Code and helps identify individual bank branches during online money transfers.

Get the best exchange rates when you send remittances to India

Exchange rates are an essential part of every money transfer. A fair exchange rate can make a massive difference to the amount of Indian rupees transferred to your recipient. Azimo’s rate alert feature will tell when GBP to IRN exchange rates are at their best, i.e. the ideal time to make a transfer. 

For example, if you’re sending money from the UK to India and £1 = ₹ 102.32, you can hold out for a better rate. Simply set up an alert for your preferred rate of say, £1 = ₹ 105 or better, so you’ll never miss out on the best exchange rate.

Pay the lowest fees on money transfers to India

After you’ve found a great rate, you’ll need to complement it with the lowest fees to get the cheapest international money transfers. However, when shopping around for the lowest fees, always consider the transfer’s total cost. 

That’s because many banks and money transfer companies advertise tempting “zero-fee or commission” transfers. Usually, offers like these are hiding poor exchange rates. And when you accept an unfavourable exchange rate, money transfer providers pocket the difference. Read our article about the mid-market rate to understand how this works.

If you’re sending money to India, use comparison tools like Monito or Azimo’s pricing page. You’ll see how different providers like Azimo, Western Union, TransferWise, etc., stack up side-by-side. 

Find out the actual cost of a money transfer by doing a bit of research. Sometimes you’ll discover that paying a fee or commission gets you a better overall deal and more money for your recipient. 

How much cash do I need in India?

According to the World Nomads website, while staying in India, you’ll need between £7-70 per day depending on where you stay and eat and your transport modes.

  • Low budget – £7 per day.

This is if you stay in cheap traveller’s hostels, eat cheap local food, and only take trains every few days or less. 

  • Mid-range budget – £35 per day.

At this price point, you can enjoy double rooms in a budget hotel, eat out three times a day and travel around on AC2 trains. 

  • Luxury budget – £70 per day.

If you have the means, £70 per day will afford you a stay in 5-star boutique style hotels, travel on AC1 trains, internal flights and meals at top-rated restaurants.