Is there a preferred foreign currency to bring to India to exchange for the Indian Rupee? I understand that USD is the preferred currency in most countries, but is it OK to bring CAD?

Will cab drivers or guides accept USD or CAD as tips if no Indian Rupee is available on hand?

2 Answers 2


There is no preferred currency per se for exchanging into INR in India, although US dollar, British pound, and the Euro are the most common exchange currencies. These are the three main currencies that most foreign exchange agencies support: for buying INR, it is usually not a problem as among these three currencies they will be happy to accept them. However, since US dollar is the most commonly exchanged currency, you will be able to shop around at more places for a better rate than if you are trying to exchange Canadian dollars.

For selling INR and converting back to your local currency, you may find trouble finding agents that can carry out the transaction if you want to convert to high numeric amount of a foreign currency other than USD. Also note that most forex shops do not accept coins. There is no concept of 'commission-free' foreign exchange as it is mandatory to charge a service fee by law.

Converting Indian rupees to other currencies abroad is often not supported and you get bad rates; the reason why there aren't many foreign exchange agencies supporting Indian rupees abroad is because the currency import/export is very tightly controlled.

Foreign currency cannot be used for transactions in shops or for travel. Do note that 1 US dollar is large amount; for many modes of public transport that could be many times more than or equal to the fare you're supposed to pay.

EDIT: While I don't want to promote any particular agency, find out existing retail foreign exchange rates in India is not an easy thing to find on most Indian retail bank websites as they often make you fill out forms instead for any rates enquiries as a way to generate leads for their sales teams. For that reason I would recommend checking Thomas Cook India's website to get an idea of what actual retail rates are. (It is one of the largest players in the forex agency market, to be fair.) Retail rates from other banks and forex agencies are typically plus-minus 1-2 INR from what you find on the Thomas Cook site.

  • 1
    Great, regarding my question here, I came to the conclusion that it's best to use euros if I'm starting with kunas (HRK). Exchange rates are less than favorable for GBP and USD in Croatia right now and I guess the loss that I get when changing from HRK is larger than the one I would be getting (regardless of currency) when exchanging in India.
    – rlab
    Feb 22, 2012 at 12:46
  • My suggestion: check retail rates for HRK to the those three currencies, then check rates for them to INR. If you can get USD at good rates, that will be your best bet. Feb 22, 2012 at 17:26
  • I did check it but Croatian exchange offices and banks have much better rates for EUR than for other two. I got euros today in an exchange office (much better rates than in any large bank) so that's it... Thanks for your suggestion.
    – rlab
    Feb 22, 2012 at 19:15

USD is definitely preferred, but Euro is also accepted widely. Agencies that involve in exchanging money also usually accept Australian as well as Canadian Dollars.

Cab Drivers/Guides/Shops usually do not accept foreign currency.

  • As is British Sterling
    – Simon
    Mar 8, 2013 at 12:34

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