I am headed to India with a large tourist group in two weeks. How much money am I allowed to exchange at the airport when I arrive?

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    @R.. While I agree with you in principle, my UK chip-and-pin card wouldn't work at all ATM's in south america because they didn't have that technology. So I was glad to be carrying at least some currency. Nov 22, 2016 at 1:16
  • @LevelRiverSt: I'm not sure how UK banks are, but this is probably something your bank can help you with. Thanks for the heads up though - I probably need to check with my bank that my new (US) chip debit card won't have problems with non-chip ATMs next time I travel. Nov 22, 2016 at 3:02
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    @R.. Swiping/withdrawing a debit/credit card abroad you'll face a conversion rate about 4%. That's not counting the minimum fee for withdrawing from a credit card which is extremely expensive (20-60 times [or more] the normal withdrawing fee in my country). Moreover with an ATM you get a much worse exchange rate, because banks always charge more. With 100$ you can get only ~Rs4800 in airports but if you go into foreign exchange centers you'll get ~Rs6400 (exchange rate at the time I was in India) depending on how good you're at bargaining
    – phuclv
    Nov 22, 2016 at 3:26
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    @R.. Most ATMs are closed now due to the cash situation in India.
    – Fiksdal
    Nov 22, 2016 at 4:36
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    @LưuVĩnhPhúc: Nope. I used an ATM-only card from a US bank in India in 2009 and 2010. I think it was on the STAR network but might have been NYCE. Nov 22, 2016 at 17:03

2 Answers 2


There is no limit generally, but at your time of travel there will very likely be one, imposed by the individual exchange agencies due to lack of supply. Cash is in extremely short supply all over India these days. It's actually possible that you'll be unable to get any Indian Rupees at all at the airport. And if you do, long lines and amount limits at the counter are not unlikely. For more details, see "India just demonetized all Rs 500 & 1000 notes. What do I do with my leftover cash?" and "How can I exchange Rs 500 & 1000 notes in India as a foreigner?".

Such a limit would be per person. Since you are a large group, you could divide the money between each of you, and all get in line together. That would take longer and possibly incur more exchange fees, but it may be worth it if you can get the desired amount of cash for your trip. India is still largely cash-based, and there's a great lot you do need cash for.

If you end up having to exchange with third parties outside the airport, please note that there are two occasional scams going on in that business these days.

  1. People trying to sell you the old 500 and 1000 notes. These are almost useless to you now, so stay away from them.
  2. There are fake versions of the new 500 and 2000 notes circulating. The criminals printing and circulating these are taking advantage of the fact that they are still somewhat rare and many people don't know that well exactly what they look like.

So be aware of those dangers. Also, it's normal to get a somewhat low exchange rate these days. Some of my friends had to settle for 10% below mid-market rates due to the low supply of rupees and the seller's market that has lead to.

  • Are there any good resources for how to spot the old notes and counterfeit new notes? Nov 21, 2016 at 23:15
  • @WayneWerner The old ones and new ones look distinctly different, so that's not too hard. As for spotting counterfeit ones, I'm not sure. Personally, I just check the watermark and security thread, but I really don't know much about the subject.
    – Fiksdal
    Nov 22, 2016 at 4:43

why not exchange your money before you leave? the exchange rate at the airport is not going to be as favorable as the rate you could get in your home country. if you are the US, you can buy Indian rupees online. i recently used Travelex to buy foreign currency for my trip. paid with credit card. money was FedEx'd to me in 2 days. You can do the reverse when you come home if you have unused foreign currency or they have locations all over the country that will covert your foreign currency back to US dollars.

note, they can convert dollars to foreign currency at their individual locations but they need some lead time to get the money as they don't have stockpiles of foreign currency laying around. their website explains it all very well.

  • Online providers no longer are offering INR. Feb 4, 2017 at 3:40

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