Recently, I traveled to India with my U.S. credit card. I found that out of all merchants (restaurants, shops, etc.) accepting electronic payments, only about half would accept/were prepared to handle my foreign credit card, forcing me to transact in cash with the other half.

While I did have cash, I'd prefer not to use it, as I don't like carrying large amounts of cash and having to carry smaller denominations is a pain (most retailers don't have much change to give). I'd prefer to use electronic payments whenever possible.

There are also app-based electronic payment methods that most card-accepting shops also accept, but those require having a UPI number, which as far as I'm aware is only available for Indian residents.

How can a foreigner traveling to India obtain an electronic payment method that will be accepted by the other half of card-accepting Indian merchants who can't/won't accept my foreign credit card? Is there a way to get a UPI number as a foreign tourist so I can use an app-based method? Or can I buy prepaid credit cards for a fee, like I can here in the U.S.?


1 Answer 1


There is no way for a foreign tourist to open a bank account in India. So, these are the options.

  1. Use Visa / Master card. Nowadays, most big merchants and hotels will accept cards. Services like Uber, Zomato and more will also accept it. Your foreign card will work well. You can use it and carry cash for rest.

  2. Paytm. Paytm allows toping up the account with a credit card. You can use that in any places that has paytm. Paytm is accepted by many smaller merchants. For a general UPI payment, it may not work.

  3. Ask a friend to help. Many neobanks allow to open a bank accounts easily online. They will give a card also. You can transfer to that account and use it. Although, it carries some risk to your friend and they may not agree.

Always carry some limited cash. Cash is still the king in India.


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