How not to get ripped off while exchanging currency?

This is a ‘sub-blog’ of sorts (check out my original Dubai travelogue here and video playlist here) so don’t expect it to be lengthy. I am discussing currency conversion in this post as it is one of the few tedious tasks you need to take care of before any international travel.

If you don’t want to get into the complexities of converting cash you can get into the complexities of using a forex card. I find the complexities of cash conversion less complex than the complexities of handling a forex card that usually supports only a few countries and might not work on your next international trip. (Sorry for the overuse of the word ‘complexity’ making this post a bit complex right in the beginning 😉)

So the very first thing I want get off the table is how much INR you can carry with yourself if you are looking for conversion at destination? The right answer to this is INR 25000. I have found many different answers all over the web so just wanted to put this up with a picture as well. INR 25000 cash is the amount that is legally allowed for an individual to carry out of India. This is from Bangalore Airport.

Indians are restricted from carrying/exporting INR above 25000 outside

When it comes to conversion the key point to understand is that a foreign currency will always be more valuable than the native currency. Please read that again - foreign currency will always be more valuable than the native currency.

Let’s take an example. In India, what do you think will be more valuable, the Indian Rupee (INR) or the UAE Dirham (AED)? Indian Rupees are available in plenty so obviously UAE Dirhams are more valuable (it’s the simple rule of demand and supply!). So buying AED in India with INR would mean paying a higher price than buying AED in Dubai with INR.

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Below are the prices I noted,

Buying Price of AED (currency prices fluctuate)
Bangalore Airport: 21.2 INR = 1 AED
Dubai Airport: 19.6 INR = 1 AED

Selling Price of AED
Dubai Airport: 15.7 INR = 1 AED
Bangalore Airport: 16.5 INR = 1 AED

Do note that these are airport prices and this is where my next suggestion comes in.

Do not exchange at airports!

Airports are expensive places. They rip you off for a piece of brownie and currency exchange is no different. Always try to check online prices of the currencies. You may find websites like Extravel. Extravel is basically an aggregator website helping currency buyers meet the sellers and making a commission between the transaction. You can compare prices of different sellers and then make the purchasing decision.

You can also take a step ahead and check out the currency exchange in your local area. They might be able to offer a better price on their own by avoiding the third party commission of Extravel.

So to sum it up here are my three suggestions when it comes to exchanging currency,

1. Try to buy the currency at destination. But remember not all countries may accept INRs and the legal limit of the amount of cash you can carry out of India is INR 25000 per person

2. Avoid exchanging currency at the airports

3. Make use of websites like extravel to locate local money exchanges and compare their prices. Additionally, try to reach out to those exchanges separately to avoid extravel’s commission

Hope you found this blog helpful. Feel free to check out my other travel blogs here
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