Best ways to take money to India - 2024

Preparing a trip to India? Planning how to manage your travel money before you leave Singapore can help you save time, money, and hassle. Join us as we compare the best ways to spend in Indian Rupee, including travel money cards and cash. Whether you prefer to spend with a card, or need to know if India is great for cash, this guide shows you the best money solution when you travel overseas.

Best ways to take money to India - an overview

Let’s kick off with a quick summary of the travel money options we’ll cover in this full guide - click to check out the providers we’ve highlighted, or read on for more detail.

ProviderCard typeSpending feesGo to provider
Wise travel cardVisa debit cardNo fees to spend currencies you holdGo to Wise
YouTrip prepaid cardMastercard prepaidNo fees to spend currencies you holdGo to YouTrip
Citi Rewards CardMastercard credit card3.25% foreign transaction feeGo to Citi Rewards

Debit cards for India

Debit cards can be issued by a bank or specialist provider. Your card will be linked to an account you need to top up before you can spend.

Spending and making cash withdrawals with a travel debit card in India can be convenient, and if you pick a low cost provider, it could be cheap too. Generally using a debit card cuts out a few common fees compared to using credit cards, but you’ll need to have money in your account before you travel as there’s no credit facility with this option.

Ideal for: Low cost spending and withdrawals when you’re in India, particularly if you choose a flexible card which has good exchange rates when you spend in INR

Wise travel card

Delivered in SingaporeDelivered in SingaporeVisa/Mastercard debit cardVisa/Mastercard debit cardVirtual card availableVirtual card availableMid-market exchange rateMid-market exchange rate

Open a Wise account online or in the Wise app, to order a Wise travel card you can use for convenient spending and withdrawals in India. Wise accounts can hold 40+ currencies, so you can top up in SGD easily from your bank or using your card. Whenever you travel, to India or beyond, you’ll have the option to convert to the currency you need in advance if it’s supported for holding a balance, or simply let the card do the conversion at the point of payment.

In either case you’ll get the mid-market exchange rate with low, transparent fees whenever you spend in INR, plus some free ATM withdrawals every month - perfect if you’re looking for easy ways to arrange your travel cash. You can’t make local Singapore ATM withdrawals with a Wise card, although you can use your card to spend locally.

Wise features

CardFees for spendingATM feesWithdraw limitAnnual feeApp availableTrustpilot score
Visa or Mastercard Debit CardNo fees to spend currencies you hold

Some fee free withdrawals monthly, with low fees after that

7,000 SGD a monthN/AiOS & Android4.2 / 5 (200,000+)

Wise travel card pros and cons

  • Hold and exchange 40+ currencies with the mid-market rate
  • Spend seamlessly in INR when you travel
  • Some free ATM withdrawals every month, for those times only cash will do
  • Ways to receive payments to your Wise account conveniently
  • Manage your account and card from your phone
  • 8.5 SGD delivery fee for your first card
  • ATM fees apply once you've exhausted your monthly free withdrawals
  • Physical cards may take 3 days to arrive (you can use your virtual card right away)

How to apply for a Wise card

Here’s how to apply for a Wise account and order a Wise  travel card in Singapore:

  1. Open the Wise app or desktop site

  2. Select Register and confirm you want to open a personal account

  3. Register with your email, Facebook, Apple or Google ID

  4. Upload your ID document to complete the verification step

  5. Tap the Cards tab to order your card

  6. Pay the one time 8.5 SGD fee, confirm your mailing address, and your card will be on the way, and should arrive in 3 days

How much does a debit card cost?

Debit cards are usually relatively cheap to use. It’s worth checking if your bank debit card can be used in India, and if any foreign transaction fees or international ATM fees will apply. Compare your bank debit cards against a specialist alternative like the Wise debit card, which is optimised for international use, to see which is cheaper.

Advantages and disadvantages for taking a debit card to India

Travel debit cards are good ifConsider alternatives to cards if 

✅ You want low cost spending and withdrawals


✅ Your bank or specialist card has low or no foreign transaction fees


✅ You need ways to both spend on card and get cash from ATMs


✅ You’re happy to top up your account in advance to set your travel money budget

❌ You’d prefer to spread the cost of your trip over a few months


❌ You need a card you can use as payment guarantee when checking into a hotel or hiring a vehicle

Prepaid cards for India

Prepaid cards are often issued by specialist providers, although some banks do also offer this facility.

With a prepaid card you’ll need to add money to a digital account before you can spend. The features and fees of prepaid cards can vary quite widely - some are designed for overseas use, while others may have pretty high fees when you’re overseas. Comparing a few will help you pick.

Ideal for: Setting your travel budget in advance, and then spending and making withdrawals as you travel in India

YouTrip travel card

Delivered in SingaporeDelivered in SingaporeMastercard debit cardMastercard debit card10 currencies10 currencies

YouTrip is another popular local card and multi-currency digital wallet which might be useful for your planned trip to India. You’ll need to add a balance in SGD which you can then convert to one of the 10 supported currencies. You’ll need to double check if INR is available for holding a balance, as supported currencies can change. If it’s not, there’s no problem - your card can do the conversion for you at the point you pay or make an overseas ATM withdrawal. A small fee may be added into the exchange rate - live rates are visible on the YouTrip app so you can check.

You can’t make international ATM withdrawals with your card, which is intended for overseas spending only.

YouTrip features

CardFees for spendingATM feesWithdraw limitAnnual feeApp availableTrustpilot score
Mastercard Debit Card

No fees to spend currencies you hold

If currency conversion is needed, rates may include a fee

Some fee free withdrawals monthly, with low fees after that

5,000 SGD a monthN/AiOS & AndroidNot active on Trustpilot

YouTrip travel card pros and cons

  • Popular local provider
  • Hold 10 currencies, spend in 150+ countries
  • Few fees to worry about
  • No ATM fees for the first 400 SGD you withdraw
  • Currency exchange can be done at the point of payment for unsupported currencies
  • ATM fees apply if you withdraw over 400 SGD
  • Exchange rates may include a markup

How to apply for a YouTrip card

Here’s how to apply for a YouTrip account and order a travel card in Singapore:

  1. Download the YouTrip app

  2. Click the option to register and get a card

  3. Complete the details, following the onscreen prompts

  4. Get verified with your ID or Singpass

  5. Your card will arrive by post in a few days

How much does a prepaid card cost?

Prepaid cards which are designed for international use can offer flexibility and low international fees. It’s worth shopping around to find an option which supports low or no cost spending and withdrawals - if you’re eligible, getting a YouTrip could be a smart move, as a prepaid card with great travel features.

Advantages and disadvantages for taking a prepaid card to India

Travel prepaid cards are good ifConsider alternatives to prepaid cards if

✅ You want to add money to your account in advance for overseas spending


✅ You need to make cash withdrawals as well as pay by card


✅ You’ve picked a card with flexible international features and low or no cost overseas spending 

❌ You want to earn rewards or cash back on your spending


❌ You need to be able to pay off your travel costs over a few months

Credit cards for India

With a credit card you’ll be able to spend to your credit limit and then repay your bill later - fees apply if you don’t pay in full and on time.

Credit cards can come with a few extra fees compared to debit and prepaid cards, such as interest, penalties and cash advance costs. However, they’re still an attractive option if you have a travel optimised card which lets you earn rewards as you spend, or if you need a card to act as a payment guarantee when you hire a car or check into a hotel.

Ideal for: Spending now and paying back later - you may also earn rewards or cash back spending on the card you pick

Citi Rewards Card travel card

Mastercard network for global acceptanceMastercard network for global acceptanceEarn rewardsEarn rewardsClaim cash back or giftsClaim cash back or gifts

The Citi Rewards card is on the Mastercard network for global spending and withdrawals. It allows you to earn 10x cash back on certain spend categories including online shopping, ride hailing and food delivery, as well as on certain retail purchases. You can then redeem your rewards for gifts or as cash back when you pay your bill. Foreign transaction fees apply, and as the cash advance fee is pretty high, this may not be the best card to use if you intend to make overseas ATM withdrawals.

Citi Rewards Card features

CardFees for spendingATM feesAnnual feeApp available
Mastercard Credit card3.25% foreign transaction fee15 SGD or 8%, whichever is greater196.20 SGDOn Android and Apple

Citi Rewards Card pros and cons

  • Earn 10x rewards on select spending
  • Use reward points for gifts or as cash back
  • Spread the costs of spending over months
  • Card can be used as a payment guarantee
  • Mastercard network for global acceptance
  • Interest and fees may apply depending on how you use your card
  • 196.20 SGD annual fee
  • High cash advance fees at 15 SGD or 8%, whichever is greater

Apply online on the Citi Singapore website - you’ll even get a welcome bonus if your application is accepted.

How much does a credit card cost?

Generally, using a credit card can be more expensive than using a debit or prepaid card. There are various fees to consider, including an annual fee, interest and penalties, depending on how you use your card. Plus for international use you might find foreign transaction fees and hefty cash advance charges for ATM use. Check your card’s terms and conditions carefully before you use it overseas.

Advantages and disadvantages for taking a credit card to India

Travel credit cards are good ifConsider alternatives to credit cards if 

✅ You want to earn rewards or cash back on spending


✅ You want to spread the costs of your purchases over months


✅ You want a card you can use as a payment guarantee


✅ You can find a card with low or no foreign transaction fees

❌ You’re concerned about interest or penalty fees


❌ Your card has high cash advance costs for ATM use

Taking cash to India

There are likely to be times in India when cash is handy - for smaller purchases, tipping and taxis for example. Having some cash in your pocket is also reassuring in case your preferred payment card isn’t available or can't be accepted for some reason. Carrying too much cash is a security risk, so do be careful as tourists are often prey to opportunist thieves  - in India and the world over. Take out cash from ATMs little and often if you can.

Ideal for: Those times when only cash will do - market purchases, tipping and taxis for example

How much cash should I bring to India?

The budget you need to set for your trip depends a lot on what type of trip you’re expecting – you may be travelling or a shoestring, or you might be all up for a big blow out, with the very best of everything available in India. In either case you can avoid spending money unnecessarily with a bit of advance planning, booking accommodation online before you travel, and looking out for deals and offers.

How much money do I need per day in India?

While the amount of money you need depends a lot on the type of trip you’re taking, there are some things pretty much all travellers need to consider, including:

  • Accommodation

  • Meals

  • Transportation

  • Entry to tourist locations

  • Activities and entertainment

  • Tips and discretionary spend

  • Any tourist taxes or visas that apply

You can start to set your budget for different spending types long before you travel - it’s also worth taking into consideration less obvious costs like the fees you’ll pay for currency conversion.

The exchange rate between the SGD and Indian Rupee changes all the time, but getting a better rate means your money goes further when you’re in India. Right now, 1 SGD/INR = 61.8412. Get familiar with the exchange rate by using a reputable online currency converter, so you know what to expect.

In India, the average accommodation typically costs around 46 SGD per night, offering a wide range of options from cozy hostels to luxurious resorts, ensuring there's something to suit every traveler's budget. Local transportation, like buses, trains, and trams, provides convenient and affordable ways to explore the cities and other areas, with an average price of 9 SGD.

Dining experiences in India offer many options, from fresh seafood to multicultural cuisines, with meals averaging around 13 SGD. For people seeking hassle-free adventures, organized tour packages are readily available, showcasing the country's iconic landmarks, wildlife encounters, and cultural highlights, with prices starting from 13 SGD.

Outgoings average for one dayCosts in India
Accommodation46 SGD
Public transportation9 SGD
Meal13 SGD
Entertainment13 SGD

Is India expensive?

The amount of money you’ll spend in India depends a lot on the type of travel you like - whether that’s low cost or luxury. You can always make sure you stick to your planned budget by booking accommodation well in advance, and looking for great local places to eat rather than sticking to tourist hotspots where the prices tend to be cranked up. There are loads of great, and up to date, online resources to help you plan your trip to India which include hot tips and ways to save - do some research before you go to make your money go further.

What is the best way to pay in India?

Card payments are common - and often preferred - in India. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted and in most places you can make contactless payments with your physical card or a wallet like Apple Pay. Having some cash in your pocket can be reassuring, but it’s not necessary to carry a lot in most cases.

Can I use my bank card in India?

Generally you can use your bank card in India wherever the network is accepted. However you might find you can get a better deal with a specialist provider like Wise. Using a bank card issued in Singapore for spending in India may come with a few headaches. You might need to inform your bank of your travel plans in advance, you could run into fees such as foreign transaction fees - and there’s a good chance you won’t get the very best exchange rate available either.

Is it better to exchange money in [source-country or in India?

There’s no strict right and wrong when it comes to exchanging currency in Singapore versus India. Ultimately, the best option comes down to the exchange rates and fees you can find both here and on arrival - and the convenience. Changing money on arrival means wasting precious time looking for a good deal, but carrying too much with you when you travel might not be the safest option.

Having some cash on hand can be very useful and reassuring, as you know you’ll always be able to pay for immediate expenses, or for emergencies. It’s also a handy back up if your preferred card isn’t accepted.

Because carrying lots of cash can make you a target of thieves, be sure to use the safety box in the hotel where you can, and split funds between a few different spots in your baggage as well. No matter whether you exchange at home or abroad, it’s also a smart idea to keep an eye on exchange rates so you’ll know you’re getting the best available deal on currency exchange.

How to buy INR on arrival in India?

If you plan on changing your money on arrival in India you’ll want to research currency exchange options in advance to avoid wasting time on your trip. In many cases physical exchange offices are clustered in one area of a city, such as the CBD or financial area. Compare your options based on fees and rates available before you hand over any money. It’s also worth stressing the importance of using a licensed money changer to avoid scams.

If you don’t want to waste time changing your money to Indian Rupee on arrival, consider an alternative like the Wise card. With the Wise card you can add money in SGD and tap to pay in INR without needing to do a manual exchange. Your money is changed using the mid-market rate and low, transparent fee - with no extra foreign transaction fee to worry about.

Does India accept SGD?

Generally it’s not possible to pay in SGD anywhere except in Singapore. The official currency in India is Indian Rupee - and in most cases this is the only currency you can use to pay.

Conclusion - Best ways to take money to India

There’s no single best way to spend in India - and for most people, having a blend of payment options gives flexibility and reassurance. Consider getting a low cost debit card from an international provider like Wise, alongside your regular bank debit or credit card, and some cash in INR. That way you’re prepared no matter what happens.

FAQ - Best ways to take money to India

What is the best way to take money internationally?

The best way to take money with you when you travel depends on your personal preferences and where you’re headed - usually having an international debit or prepaid card, alongside your bank debit or credit card and a little cash is a smart plan.

Should I exchange money before I travel to India?

While you can exchange money before you travel, it’s not necessary and can eat up your precious planning time. If you don’t want to change your money in advance you can get a low cost international card from a provider like Wise, to make ATM withdrawals with low or no fees when you arrive in your destination.

Can I withdraw INR from a local ATM?

You can’t withdraw Indian Rupee from a local ATM in Singapore. You’ll need to wait until you arrive to make a cash withdrawal - ATMs are often found in airports, train stations and other travel hubs to make this easier.

Are debit travel cards a good way to take money to India?

Generally debit travel cards are cheap and flexible for international spending and withdrawal. Pick a low cost international card from a provider like Wise, to get flexible international services and low overall fees.

Can I use cash in India?

You can often use cash, but carrying a lot of cash isn’t a smart move for safety. Using a mix of cards and cash, and making ATM withdrawals as and when you need to can give you the best of all worlds when it comes to your travel spending.

Data sources & references

Data on the cost of accommodation, meals, travel and entertainment is kindly provided by BudgetYourTrip. The information is correct as of April 2024.

Note: “accommodation” refers to the cost of a double-occupancy hotel room and “entertainment” refers to outgoings on shows, excursions, etc.

According to the 2024 WorldPay Global Payments Report, the most popular point-of-sale payment method in India is digital wallets.

Claire Millard
Ileana Ionescu
Last updated
7 May 2024