India has limited the amount of cash you can get at ATMs and money changers. How is the situation in the country - any news from travellers?
We have heard that it is only possible to get about 80 $ per day via an ATM in India and that you cannot change more than this amount at money changers. The queues at the ATMs is long, mostly they even run out of money. At Delhi Airport one must wait for about 2 hours to get 80$. How do you deal with this situation? Any tips? What about travelling in rural areas or smaller cities?
In response to: Msg #198747
I just got back from India. The situation is quite pathetic, a classic example of an implementation without any planning. You are right, $80 is the max that you get from the airport which is just over RS. 4700. You must accept at least on bill of Rs. 2000 there and mostly there are no takers of that large bill in the market. I stayed with my brother, so I managed to survive without much cash in hand. But foreign tourists faced more problems. Use of cards are fine in the big city hotels, but they are non-existent in the rural areas. A cashless society is best reflected in the ATM machines with long line ups. Suggest, don't visit India until the dust settles down which may take several months.
Arrived in Chennai Tuesday, the day after the Typhoon wrecked the city. At Chennai Airport there were no ATM's. A Centrum money exchanger was issuing 2x2000 Rupees for foreign currency exchange. Our hotel changed 100 USD @ 63 Rupees/$. Rupees in a mix of small notes and 2000's. Because of the storm there were no ATM open and charging against a credit card was intermittent because the cell phone and telephone lines were disrupted.
In Pondicherry an ATM close to our hotel was open with short queue but only issuing 1x2000 rupee note per transaction. 2 transaction limit per card per day.
Changing 2000 rupee notes to small notes is difficult but not impossible. We did it at a very busy restaurant paying for a 350 rupee meal and getting change.
Thanks for your responses! We just came back from India. We will also write in our blogs from the situation. The fact is: the financial situation is terrible in India! For the locals it is bad, but for the tourists it is worse.
We arrived on a sunday at Delhi airport - the whole airport had no cash. In bigger cities you might be lucky at bigger, international banks to get some cash. But not more than 2000 Rupees per person. And the security guards will send you away if you have a second card. Smaller, indian banks also have ATMs with cash sometimes. Women have their own lines (which is much faster). But international credit cards or maestro cards are not accepted there any more. So no cash for tourists there. Approx. waiting line for an ATM 1-3 hours.
As you can only get 2000 Rupees with a l ot of comission out of the ATM, tourists are forced to take care of their money nearly every day - so cash is like part of your daily holiday/travels. Very annoying!
We found it easier and simpler to go to a western union money exchange or Thomas Cook office. They both offer cash in advance. You get 5000 Rupees per week per card at the same office. Commission is between 10 - 15% which is normal in the meantime. They are making money with the cashless tourists! But for desperate tourists sometimes this is the only possibility. They are also on Goa airport and in all bigger cities. By the way - changing money is not better than cards. When there is no cash, there is no cash.
Indians are very helpful. They tell you about the "good" ATMs. Sometimes a hotel might overcharge you credit card if you are really in big troubles (happened to us twice).
In the end we ended up eating in restaurants where we could pay with card and booked our accomodation online with the credit card, even though we stayed in simple guesthouses or beach huts. The only way to solve the problem is try to avoid needing cash.
If you can, avoid the country till the situation has calmed down. A lot of shops want to offer credit card payment but the machines are not available at the moment. This will take some time.
And if you have old notes - you will find people in the streets who accept them. Never give up and ask around! No matter what others tell you. We used all our old money without any commission.
Any idea why they instituted these changes?
In response to: Msg #199107
The govt. has its own statements, however, I'll take those with grain of salt. True, there are many fake currencies introduced by other countries, which are creating inflation and black marketing. So, the Govt. decided to ban certain bills. That's fine, but they didn't come up with new currencies and that is creating trouble for common people. ATM machines are getting dried as there is no adequate cash supply. Reserve Bank rules are changing everyday and creating confusion. Initially Govt was saying they are doing this to stop the flow of black money. Now they are saying, they want to bring digital revolution, cashless society and based on on-line and plastics. That is a total non-sense in my view, especially in a country like India where there is no such infrastructure in rural areas. So, the bottom line is, it's a total chaos. And no one really knows when this would be fixed.
I'm in India right now and I think the responses above a perhaps a little overblown. The situation isn't great, but it isn't dire; I've been able to get around OK with good planning and a bit of luck.
I arrived in India four days after the demonetisation of 500 and 1000 rupee notes and was lucky to pass by ATMs in the middle of the night in Delhi when there were short queues. I have no limit in terms of withdrawing cash; I can only take out 2000 rupees at a time (which is a little bit of a hassle to break but is totally do-able) but I then put my card in as many times as I want.
I think the situation now is much better than it was a month ago and in smaller, tourist-ish cities such as Aurangabad, Udaipur and Panaji (Goa) there have been short to no queues for ATMs. In Mumbai, it was really, really easy to get cash - it was as if there was no crisis at all! Very remote places and rural locations would be difficult places to get hold of cash.
I find the State Bank ATMs are the ones that usually have cash. I have a Visa debit card which has presented me with no problems.
Do try and pay by card and book things online wherever you can (e.g. using Cleartrip to book trains online and Agoda to book accommodation) and use whatever cash you have wisely and you'll be fine. Obviously the less you spend the less problems you have.
I'm on a shoesting budget so perhaps this has helped me too.
In response to: Msg #199170
I agree Derek. For people planning on coming choose a debit card that doesn't charge a processing fee. If I had used my normal ATM card from New Zealand there would be a $8 charge at the NZ end each time. So to get 2000 rupees ($45 NZD) I would be paying $8 each time. I brought a CashPassport debit card in NZ and it has no NZ side fee. There don't appear to be any ATM fees being charged India side.
We stockpiled a few 2000 rupee notes as we came across working ATM's in the bigger cities, Tanjore and Madurai, and at ourHotel's in Ramaswaram where the ATM's were all shut we presented one of them to pay the bill and said we had nothing smaller. After a bit of a discussion they sent someone out and they arrived back with wads of 100 rupee notes. They changed 3 more 2000 rupee notes for us into small bills. It's a bit of extra work to deal with but not major enough to cancel or postpone your holiday. In fact like all travel in India it's just part of the fun!
We have just arrived back in India and things have improved. We tried a few ATM's today with no cash but when we found one with cash we could get 4000 rupees and it was issued in a mix of the new 500 rupee notes plus hundreds.
Daily cash withdrawal limit through ATMs has been increased from INR 4500 to INR 10,000 per day, with maximum limit of INR 24,000 per week. New bills of 500 rupees are in circulation.