Buy Currency
Home hero arrow

What is the currency of India?

The currency of India is the rupee, one of the world’s oldest forms of money with a history going back almost 500 years.

In this guide, we share all the details you need around money in India - how to convert pounds to Indian rupees, whether cash is more useful than a bank card, and how best to pay for your travels in the beautiful and vibrant Indian subcontinent.

The Indian rupee (INR)

Established in 1540, the Indian rupee is the official currency.

Symbolised by a ₹ sign, with the ISO code INR, the rupee is one of the oldest continuously used currencies in the world, reflecting the rich history and heritage of India.

The history of the Indian rupee

The Indian rupee has a past that stretches back five centuries. It was first introduced during the reign of Sher Shah Suri in the 16th century, while its modern form has roots in the British Raj era.

Over the years, the rupee has witnessed several transformations, reflecting the economic and political changes that have shaped India. It began its journey as silver coins, with the first banknotes introduced in 19th century British colonial times.

When India gained independence from British rule in 1947, the Reserve Bank took over the regulation of the currency. The rupee was decimalised in 1957.

Indian rupee denominations

The Indian rupee comes in various denominations of notes and coins. 1 rupee comprises 100 paise.

Notes are available in the following denominations:

  • ₹10
  • ₹20
  • ₹50
  • ₹100
  • ₹200
  • ₹500
  • ₹2,000

Coins come in the following:

  • 50 paise
  • ₹1
  • ₹2
  • ₹5
  • ₹10
  • ₹20

Exchanging the Indian rupee

Can I buy Indian rupees in the UK?

In the UK we often buy foreign currency ahead of travel, to make sure we have cash to hand on arrival. However, that’s not possible with the Indian rupee.

The rupee is a closed currency, which means it is not available for purchase outside of India. This approach is designed to give the Indian government better control over the currency's value and stability.

How can I exchange foreign currency in India?

Once you arrive in India, exchanging money is straightforward. Always buy currency from authorised bureaux de change or banks for the most competitive rates, as well as helpful advice.

How much cash can I take to India from the UK?

While you cannot bring Indian rupees into India from another country, you are allowed to bring foreign currencies such as British pounds, US dollars, or euros.

There are regulations around the maximum amount of money you can bring into India, which are detailed on the UK government website. Typically, you will need to declare anything over the value of £5,000.

Can I use my debit card in India?

Using your debit card in India is relatively hassle-free. In tourist destinations many hotels and businesses allow payments on international bank cards.

Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, making electronic transactions a convenient option. American Express and Diners Club are less frequently recognised.

Note that every card issuer is different, and there are often exchange fees and transaction costs for using your card abroad. Check how much you will be charged before using your card outside the UK.

Many travellers find that they get extra peace of mind with the Travelex Money Card. You load your card with British pounds and use it to withdraw rupees at an ATM or make contactless payments direct at point of sale.

It’s also a secure way to take money abroad and can be frozen using the Travelex Money App if it’s lost or stolen.

ATM charges in India

ATMs are readily available throughout most of India, making it easy to access cash when you need it.

But do be aware of any bank charges associated with ATM withdrawals, as most card issuers impose fees for using ATMs outside the UK.

ATMs in India offer round-the-clock access to cash but, like anywhere in the world, you should take care to protect your PIN and the money you withdraw.

It’s always a good idea to make sure you have enough cash for emergencies in case the nearest ATM is out of service. It’s even more important to make sure you have enough cash if you’re in a remote area.

Travel safer with our Travelex Money Card

Experience added peace of mind with the Travelex Money Card - an optimal alternative to carrying your debit card. Unlike your debit card, our Travelex Money Card is not linked to your bank account, minimising your risk of losing all your funds in case of loss or theft. Load your card with Great British pounds, and withdraw Indian rupees from ATMs or make secure, contactless payments directly at the point of sale.

Please note that a 2% fee applies to GBP loads, and a 5.75% fee is incurred when using the card in India where the local currency isn't offered on our Travelex Money Card. This fee also extends to cash withdrawals for Indian rupees and other currencies that are not offered on our Travelex Money Card. While Travelex does not impose charges to ATM withdrawals, it's important to note that fees from other ATM providers may apply. Find out more on our fees here.

We hope you’re getting excited about your planned travels to India - it’s an unforgettable destination and a treat for all your senses.

For ideas of what to see and where to go, read our complete India travel guide. We also have tips on how to make your travel money go further - see our budget travel guide to India.