Rupees - difficulty getting small denominations?? What is a shopper to do???

Hi all,
I am on the February 16th, 2017 trip and am concerned about securing smaller denomination of Rupees. With the recent withdrawal of the larger currency notes, there has been an acute shortage of 100 and 500 rupee notes. I read that hotels and ATMs have severe shortages of the smaller rupees - and that foreign tourists were essential limited to using credit cards. I also read that the new pink 2,000 Rupee note (equivalent to $30 US) is somewhat available but the new 500 Rupee note (approx. $7.50 US) is not so available. And the 100 Rupee note (approx. $1.40 US) is virtually impossible to secure. It seems that the banks and ATMs are stocked with 2,000 Rupee notes and there is no place to break these notes into smaller denominations. Since there is a severe shortage of the smaller denominations, vendors are not willing to make change.

What is a shopper to do???? I can bring a stack of $1 bills...but help!! If anyone has been to India recently, I would greatly appreciate advice!!



  • Thanks to Barbara, one of my co-travelers (and shopper extraordinaire), we have a bit of an answer to my question: based on the currency changes in India, the Federal Reserve Bank of India has made changes regarding bringing rupees into India. A careful reading FRBI Circular No. 45/2015 seems to indicate that foreign nationals (excluding those from Pakistan or Bangladesh) can bring in or bring out 25,000 Rupees from India (source: I am now going to attempt to order from my local bank rupees in small denominations. I will report back on my progress. Fingers crossed!!
  • Just got this from Tauck

    With 2017 and your Tauck exploration of India drawing ever nearer, we’re sure that anticipation
    is already building for your journey. We are looking forward to hosting you on your travels!
    We’re contacting you today to inform you that due to a recent government decision to
    discontinue certaindenomination currency notes, lines are longer than usual at banks and ATMs
    in India and hotels have a shortage of rupee notes. As you may not be able to withdraw cash
    from an ATM or exchange higher value US dollars at your hotel, the recommendation is that you
    bring small US dollar bills (preferably new bills) to pay for any incidental expenses you may
    The new currency policy should have very little (if any) effect on your travel enjoyment! Credit
    cards are widely accepted at hotels, restaurants, and shops throughout the country. We
    recommend that you contact your bank in advance of departing on your journey to determine
    whether you’ll be able to use your credit cards while traveling. When contacting your bank,
    notify them of your travel dates so that they will anticipate charges being made outside of your
    hometown and do not suspend your cards for what may appear to them to be “suspicious”
    charges. We also recommend that you make a photocopy of the front and back of your credit
    cards to leave behind with someone at home who will assist you in the event your cards are
    misplaced, lost or stolen.
    Once again, we are looking forward to hosting you!
    The Tauck Worldwide Operations Team
  • Hi Diane
    Yes, We received Tauck's letter about bring US dollars (what denominations, what amount?) but I am still exploring options in NYC or elsewhere where I can secure small denomination rupees. If not, I am concerned that I will not be able to buy what I want -- will vendors in the markets accepts US currency? In addition, we have arranged a private guide in Mumbai who wants full payment in rupees. I will contact him and ask for his recommendations.

    If anyone else has some thoughts, I welcome them!!
  • edited January 2017
    Hi NANCY, while I only took the Spotlight on India tour, I am absolutely certain that the hawkers will accept dollars from you, but as most of their trinkets cost very little, like a dollar, I would be sure to take PLENTY of one dollar notes with you as there is no way you can definitely ensure you can get any rupees from your bank, but try as much in advance as you can. The same with your private guide. If it is a matter of getting payment in dollars from you or not being able to take any tourists on tours, he is going to take dollars, be absolutely sure of that. For other things you might want to buy, most of those will be in stores or craft emporiums where they will take credit cards. Unless the first part of the tour that I know about, you will not have much opportunity to shop at 'Markets' Certainly, on the Spotlight part of the tour, there is very little time to go out and about looking for ATMs. you might have read in one of my entries a couple of years ago that our bus was on the way back to the hotel when some people asked about going to an ATM, so our tour director got out with that group and escorted them to the ATM. My husband said he might as well take the opportunity to get more rupees. He had not told our bank or credit card company we would be traveling, mainly because AMEX. Our card of choice does not require it. Anyway, his card worked, but no one else's would, even though they had informed their banks. So be aware of that possibility too.
    I know you will love the amazing experience that is India, be prepared to have parts of your senses tapped for the first time and, to give yourself time to recover mentally when you return home.
  • Thanks British!! I emailed my private tour guide in Mumbai - and he immediately wrote back that of course, he would accept US dollars He also offered to take us to the bank where he has accounts, and he was confidant that they would be able to change our us dollars into Rupees. A lovely gesture - but this will be at the end of my Indian Adventure --

    Just to let others know - I contacted Concierge Services at AMEX who investigated the currency exchange problem - and they too could find no one in the NYC vicinity who are trading with Indian Rupees at this time. I also called the Bank of India (in NYC) and they had nothing to offer. I am stubborn - so i will persevere in my quest for rupees....story to be continued.

    And yes, British, I am so excited to be traveling to India - I just finished reading The Siege; watched a fabulous movie about a richshaw driver in Delhi called Amal, and am in the middle of Flowers in the Blood - the story of the Sassoon family and the opium trade. All month I am watching stuff and reading to build up my excitement!! One more month!!

    My next problem -- where to go next...I love land tours and while I am still capable, I prefer the 'harder' trips. I have read your notes about your African adventures but I am not sure...I am not a photography junkie; I would prefer not to have a close encounter with wildlife, the trips seem rather confining ... however, everyone who writes about their African Adventure has such passion for their trip...and they keep going back. Thinking of Japan..or maybe China...suggestions??? I have traveled in Western Europe extensively and would prefer not to go there at this time - I went to Russia and the Baltics as well as Indochina with Tauck.

  • When we did the tour 3 years ago it was illegal to take rupees into or out of India, so it was impossible to get currency in the UK before travelling.There are plenty of ATMs and currency desks at the airport so maybe best to linger in a queue there before joining your transfer taxi. Maybe not the best rates but if having currency makes you comfortable go for it. Otherwise, as said above, take small $$ bills for trinkets and use cards for the rest.
  • Nanos wrote:
    My next problem -- where to go next...I love land tours and while I am still capable, I prefer the 'harder' trips. I have read your notes about your African adventures but I am not sure...I am not a photography junkie; I would prefer not to have a close encounter with wildlife, the trips seem rather confining ... however, everyone who writes about their African Adventure has such passion for their trip...and they keep going back. Thinking of Japan..or maybe China...suggestions??? I have traveled in Western Europe extensively and would prefer not to go there at this time - I went to Russia and the Baltics as well as Indochina with Tauck.



    That is a good "problem" to have : )

    You need to write down topics that interest you - in general terms (there will be some crossover.) Write "art," "history," "culture," "scenery," "nature/wildlife", etc. across the top of the page. Then start listing Tauck tours under each category. There are so many wonderful tours. Since you are going to India, it appears you have an interest in exotic/cultural experiences. There are plenty of those- Japan, China, etc. We lean towards history, scenery, and wildlife, with a much lesser interest in cultures, etc.

    Except for a few possible encounters, like British mentioned, where animals have access to the camps on the Botswana, South Africa, Zambia trip, and a few planned/managed encounters on other Tauck Africa tours, you are generally in a safari vehicle and safely separated from animals. You don't need to be a photo junkie to enjoy Africa either. Some people feel taking pictures actually detracts from the enjoyment of the experience. They would prefer viewing the animals and landscape unencumbered by the viewfinder of a camera. Me, I take a lot of photos so I can relive our trips. We've even had a lot of them blown up into large canvas prints that hang on out livingroom walls!

    Within limits we too are trying to take the longer/more demanding tours first. We both have been to Europe in our younger years (HS German trip, US Navy) but did not get to appreciate what we saw as much as taking a Tauck tour. We haven't logged the number of trips that Jan, British, Joyce, and others. We started slowly just a few years ago with England, Scotland, Wales which was in out comfort zone. But once bitten by the travel bug have followed up with Alps & Dolomites, Kenya & Tanzania, a short US tour of N.E., Classic Italy, and Best of Ireland. We leave for Peru & the Galápagos in March and are looking at XMAS Markets along the Rhine for November and Botswana/SA/Zambia, or Ancient Mariners: Venice, Croatia, Greece for next year. As long as our money and health hold out and I can convince my wife to go, we will continue to travel.
  • edited January 2017
    Well Nancy, I have not been to China but I have been to Japan twice and I love it, we even had the choice to live there many years ago but it was m awkward time for our children so we had to decline. My hubby went for about three months until someone else could take the job and he has been back around fifty times. I would go back in a heart beat, but because I've already been it is lower on my wish list and even lower on my hubby's. We have five Tauck tours booked right now, right into 2018. Still also trying to do the more strenuous trips too. That's why we are putting off the river cruises, I feel not having to go from hotel to hotel should make any tour easier, plus those river tours are expensive.
    I got rupees from my local bank in the US before we went to India, I did not know it was illegal and clearly the bank didn't! I doubt the airport will have any rupees.
  • I believe the law about bringing Rupees into India has changed...nonetheless, I cannot seem to find a source in the US to purchase Rupees (believe me: I have tried!!). And airport ATMs do not have small denomination Rupees to dispense even with the long lines. I have now contacted the Leesal Palace (the New Delhi hotel) to see if they can convert some US bills upon my arrival. Where there is a will there is a way---I will also bring a stash of $1, $5 and $10 bills.

  • edited January 2017
    NANCY. I still think you will be fine without rupees in the current climate. I have an Indian neighbor who is trying to get rid of all hers. The government is basically trying to stop the country being a cash society I can tell you true stories from when I lived in England of Indians turning up with suitcases full of cash to buy friends' houses, they are used to dealing in cash but that would seem crazy to us.
    Hey, just out of interest, what are you looking to buy?
  • good question: what do I want to buy???? Yes, I know that I can buy pashminas off the street corners in NYC; same with bracelets and colorful necklaces...But I so enjoy buying stuff that reminds me of my trips. I hear in India the textiles are gorgeous - so maybe a throw for my sofa; scarves...I am open to anything On my Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos trip last year, I had to buy another suitcase -- I bought lacquer ware, spices, scarves, jewelry made from candy wrappers by underprivileged children, a few paintings (inexpensive but when I pass them in my hallway, I always smile), and a stunning wooden box. I bought some carvings and tchotchkes. Today I am wearing a gorgeous scarf from Hanoi--such a great memory. I love the 'chase' and I have a lot of fun and laughs doing this! is part of my travel adventure. My Indochina group was rather small but by the middle of the trip, my co-travelers were giving me orders to buy stuff for them!! I am happy to shop for anyone!! Thankfully I travel with others who also enjoy the markets. But I never miss a tour or opportunity to see the sights...I use my limited free time to wander about! (yes, I know India will be different - but I will get a driver/guide to accompany me). I never keep the group waiting so that I can shop -- except on my first trip to Russian, I held up the group for a few minutes because I saw something that I just had to have - and of course, they applauded me up my return to the bus but when they saw what I bought, a few woman ran off the bus to the shop!! Naturally I come home exhausted ...ready for a vacation!!
  • edited January 2017
    Hi Nancy,
    I really think you will be fine with small denomination (new)US currency, given the current state of confusion over rupees. While I am not a die-hard shopper, I do like a bargain and memorable souvenirs. Our tour, the first of 2016 with the new itinerary had a disproportionate number of females...15 out of 21... so there was some serious shopping going on. I went with some of the ladies to The Gem Palace in Jaipur, and while they were buying diamonds, I was happy with some lovely gemstone stud earrrings. Warning...the prices were very reasonable! My husband, a lover of boxes bought a wonderful marble with inlaid stone box at a recommended shop in Agra ( not cheap, but done by artisans who replicate the craft of the Taj Mahal)...this is above the theatrical production of the story of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz. It was a fun evening!
    In Udaipur our group stayed in the Taj Lake Palace, and when we returned from some event one evening, many of the ladies descended upon the gift shop. I wandered in, and one of the salesmen immediately draped a beautiful scarf (pashmina style, but not the true fabric) around me. It was a perfect color and stunning, but I didn't need one. My husband liked it and asked the price. Too much for something I didn't want/need. Then the price dropped by half, and it was a no brainer! I absolutely love this scarf and have worn it many times.
    My final shopping coup...Mumbai and Elephanta Island when hawkers jumped on our little train and were selling rope necklaces with silver elephants on them for $20...again I was totally disinterested and bargained in a half-hearted manner ( I am pretty good at bargaining and even gave the Maasai in Africa a pretty good run). When I got a price of $3.50, I bought it. I have gotten more compliments on that necklace and so regret not buying more.
    So, don't fret not getting enough rupees, as no seller is going to refuse taking your money. And, credit cards are always good for larger purchases.
    A the South we found little wooden puzzle boxes ( in the shape of a butterfly, kitten, etc.) that were very reasonable and our grandchildren love. They were a part of the bus bazaar that I know you have read about.
  • Joyce...I can imagine the frenzied atmosphere of 15 women 'on a mission'. but it sounds like you brought home wonderful memories with wonderful reminders. Some trips are more 'shop worthy' than others; my Rhine River cruise was great, but my only purchases were at the airport's duty free shop. Russia and the Baltics--2 lacquer boxes from The Hermitage gift shop, a bottle of vodka (it seemed the thing to buy in Moscow!), and a small piece of Judaica (a hand painted Hanukah dreidel). However Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia -- I bought another suitcase for my purchases! I have calmed down about the rupees because it is what it rupees to be had! I will come with a stash of low denomination US bills. With that, a smile and a sense of adventure and excitement, I am ready!!!
  • Hi,
    I'm going on the Portrait of India trip 02/07/2017 and I'm trying to figure out how many US dollars to bring. Do you think I should bring $50, $100 or $200 one dollar bills?
  • It's really hard to advise you, what are you looking to buy? Apart from trinkets on the streets, you can use credit cards almost everywhere could save some room in your wallet by bringing some $5 bills, not everything will only be a few dollars from the street hawkers.
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