Foreign Exchange Guide to India
In this guide we review :
- Indian rupee info - general info about the Indian rupee
- Indian rupee in the markets - recent INR moves and predictions from the FX markets
- Travelling in India - currency & money saving tips
- Buying Indian rupee cash online - travel money for India
- Sending money to India - save on Indian rupee bank transfers to India
- Indian rupee exchange rates - latest info & charts.
Indian rupee (INR) general currency information
The Indian rupee gets its name from the rupiya – a silver coin first produced in the sixteenth century.
Rupee trades make up around 1% of the total volume of the foreign exchange market. This market share is comparable to currencies from other major emerging market economies, such as South Africa, Brazil and Russia, but falls some way short of the 4% share taken by the Chinese yuan – the most actively traded emerging market currency.
Importantly, the rupee has strong seasonal characteristics. The currency typically falls in value every second-quarter (April-to-June) due to India’s heightened gold demand heading into the Hindu festival of Akshaya Tritiya. Heavy rains between June and September can also depress industrial production in the country and weaken exports, which weigh on the currency.
The rupee’s all-time low against the US dollar came in February 2016 when USD/INR reached 68.80 (INR/USD 0.0145). Its all-time high came in March 1973 when USD/INR traded at just 7.19 (INR/USD 0.139). More recently, since 2007, the rupee was at its strongest in November 2007 when USD/INR fell to 39.10 (INR/USD 0.0256).
Indian rupee (INR) in the markets
By its own standards, the rupee made great inroads against the dollar in late 2017, and ushered in 2018 in much the same fashion.
In mid-November, the rupee began its determined climb against USD. Eight straight weeks of gains and an appreciation of 4% by January 5th (the time of this report) took the rupee to its strongest level in nearly two-and-a-half years, at 63.2 rupees per dollar.
Throughout early 2018, the rupee is likely to see continued support because of “increasing risks of an end to [the Reserve Bank of India’s] accommodative monetary policy,” thinks the team at ICICI Securities.
One exchange rate we look at often at Best Exchange Rates, the Australian dollar-rupee rate, fell (the rupee strengthened) throughout much of the final quarter of 2017. The rupee did, however, lose nearly half of its Q4 gains in the final three weeks of the year, mainly on broad Australian dollar strength.
With AUD/INR rates close to 50 in early January, a 4% climb is needed for AUD/INR to once again test 52.0 – one of the strongest resistance levels in all of FX.
India currency and money saving tips
India is a vibrant, colourful, and fascinating country to explore but can be a little intimidating for first time visitors. There are many magical places to visit so try to make a point of staying at least two nights in any one place. You will be using the local currency (rupee) on the street, however credit cards are now widely able to be used at the more expensive locations. Though depending on your security concerns purchasing a Prepaid Travel Card before heading there may ease your mind. Never exchange foreign currency on the street.
For getting around cities its rickshaws, they are old looking but very cheap, and definitely add to the experience. On arriving at an airport you can avoid the crowd of taxi drivers waiting outside by going to a pre-paid taxi counter inside the terminal. There you can purchase a fixed price fair to the hotel you want, pay on the spot, and they will give you a green slip. Then you can head outside and once the less scrupulous drivers see you holding a pre-paid slip you won't get swamped with offers. For longer distance travels both bus and train are available and most hotels will be happy to organise this for you as they generally get a cut of the action. The are also many small travel shops everywhere that will do this also but they may over charge. Trains are available as well and can be a good way to get around. Be aware however that they can be extremely crowded and often booking ahead at least a day or two is required. Another good option is you intend to travel around within a state for a few days is to hire a driver. This not expensive and certainly can make life easier. Only drink from bottles water and make sure it is properly sealed when you buy it. As tasty as it looks, don't eat from street vendors, and try to eat food you know has probably been prepared properly.
For a long time flights within India have been expensive and most travelers went by the bus system or by train. Now however, flights to major cities are very affordable and convenient, and can save a lot of time seeing more of the country. Doing a bit of looking around online can save you a lot of money on flights.
For women travellers you'll need to prepare for being stared at, this is usually out of curiosity more than anything else, and you will get used to it very fast. Dress conservatively, loose ankle-length pants or skirts, tops that cover your shoulders and shawls to avoid to most unwanted attention, and avoid travelling alone during festivals when thick crowds can be used as an excuse for a pinch or two.
India Trip Checklist
Travel money for India
Save money and time by Ordering your Indian rupee online from Travelex, you get better rates and can pick up the INR cash locally or even on travel day at the airport.
Another popular option is to use a Pre-paid Travel Card. Your Debit/Credit Card provider will charge you 2% from market mid-rate, but your bank may also charge an extra 3% as an “Overseas Transaction Charge” plus “Overseas ATM” fees for withdrawing cash.
For card purchases if offered a choice of currencies always select to Pay in Indian rupee otherwise you may get much worst exchange rates.
Sending money to India
When sending money to India it’s important to compare your bank’s rates & fees with those we have negotiated with our partner money transfer providers. To get a better deal you should follow these 3 simple steps :
- Open an account with a BER reviewed FX provider (id docs may be required)
- You specify the local or Indian rupee amount you want to transfer
- Make a local currency domestic transfer for the requested amount to the provider's bank account in your country
- Once your funds are received by the provider the converted INR amount will be transfered to the recipient account you specify in India.
By comparing the rates of FX specialist providers rates versus your bank's standard rates you can hopefully save around 5% and maybe more - end result is more Indian rupee deposited into the recipient bank account in India and less margins and fees kept by the banks!