Before you travel to India, it is important to inform yourself about the financial aspects of your trip. This does not only concern the purchase of airline tickets and the application for a visa India, but also the exchange of money and the payment habits in the country.
In India, you pay with the rupee (INR). At the moment this article is being written, 1 rupee is worth € 0,012. Although you can buy rupees at the airport when you arrive in India, this is generally not recommended. The transaction costs are higher there. Instead, you can buy a small amount at the airport and then the rest outside the airport. You can do this at an ATM using your own bank card, or at an exchange office. These can be found almost anywhere in India, although they can be scarce in rural areas. Be sure to select "without conversion" when withdrawing from ATMs. This means that the exchange rate is determined by your own bank, which often results in lower costs.
Note: Do not forget to activate your bank card for use outside Europe. Most banks have their bank cards set up for use within Europe. To be able to use your bank card outside Europe, you have to activate it yourself through your bank.
Cash or bank card?
In recent years, the use of debit and credit cards has become increasingly normal in India. This is especially the case for larger payments, such as booking a hotel or restaurant, or renting a car. In these places, debit cards with a Maestro logo are almost always accepted.
Nevertheless, cash is still the most popular payment method in India. This mainly concerns smaller purchases, such as everyday groceries or a small meal or drink in a café or shop. You will also need cash to buy entrance tickets to popular tourist attractions.
Another reason why it is handy to always have cash in your pocket is because you will be expected to tip waiters. Wages for waiters in India are generally low, and they rely partly on tips to make ends meet. The amount you tip depends on the price you paid. In some restaurants, tips are already included in the bill, but if this is not the case, then you should assume a tip of 10% of the bill. If the bill is higher than 1000 rupees, a 5% tip is enough. Although it is not recommended eating street food in India due to hygienic reasons, the advantage here is that you do not have to pay a tip. For other services, such as carrying your luggage or a ride in a taxi, a tip of around 200 rupees is enough.
Bargaining at markets
Indiaʼs street markets are famous the world over. The appealing merchandise and lively atmosphere of Indian markets cannot be found anywhere else. Some of the most famous street markets in India are the Arpora Saturday Night Market in Goa, the Sarojini Market in Delhi, and the Baapu Bazaar in Jaipur.
However, one thing you should know in advance is that you should never pay the first price quoted by market vendors. This is especially important if you are a tourist, as the vendors might see you as an easy prey. It is such a well-known phenomenon that Indians nowadays talk about an "Indian price" and a "foreigner price" for the products at the street markets. Although the prices that foreigners get at the markets can seem very cheap, they are often a lot more expensive than what locals would pay.
There are a number of ways to find out if you are paying too much for a product at the market. For example, before you go there, you can visit shops with fixed prices. This way, you can see how much products normally cost. If you come across something you like at a market, you can move on to see if the same product is sold at another stall. This is frequently the case. This way, you can compare prices before making a purchase.
But you donʼt have to bargain for everything, either. As mentioned earlier, prices in India are generally low for western tourists. Even if you pay the full price, you will not lose much.
Paying for your visa in euros
When applying for the mandatory visa to India, you do not need to take into account the exchange rate. You can simply pay for the visa in euros. In addition, you can easily apply for the tourist e-visa for India, the eTourist visa, online, without having to go to the embassy.
To make use of the digital version of the India visa, you do have to meet a few conditions. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months, and you may stay up to 90 consecutive days in India. The visa India is valid for 365 days.