Patnem, India

Patnem, India

The money situation here has been a cause celebre since November when in a surprise overnight move the Indian government began a de-monetization process. For the first two months there was not enough notes to go round, withdrawals were limited and long queues formed outside banks and ATMs. India has been a cash society and many businesses were also wrong footed in the action.We were a bit concerned at the reports we’d read before setting off. You can’t buy INR outside of India, so buying ahead was not an option. We had a little Indian currency left over from previous trips = about 1000 INR, roughly £8.50. So…. what to do.???? We decided not to travel with a load of sterling cash. People had reported rip off rates at the moneychangers and anyway by and large we don’t like travelling with large amounts of cash. It’s pretty safe here but… why put temptation in people’s way?We felt better after Mumbai where we managed to pick up quite a bit of cash from an ATM. The limit per transaction was 6000 INR but there was no limit on the number of transactions (ie the number of times you could insert your card) up to the daily limit set by your bank. In addition, if like us, you had a joint account you could use the other person’s card too. So, we used each card twice and withdrew 24000 INR, roughly £286. We chose to let the amount go through in INR knowing that our card (Halifax Clarity) does not make an extra charge on foreign transactions and the exchange rate is decent at 84INR to the pound. Down here in Goa, the transaction limit is lower – 4500 INR. And in fact it’s 4000, because although the new 500 INR notes are in circulation, they are a different size to the old ones and the cash machines have not been recalibrated to issue the new notes. However, even so, we have had no problems getting money from the machines on the same basis as in Mumbai ie 4 times the limit. Yesterday we managed to get 16000 INR. We really only need cash for incidentals and dinners eaten at locations other than our hotel or Salida del Sol, our each shack. Our hotel is running a tab and takes credit cards. Our beach shack – like all of them – has a similar policy. So, the relatively low amounts of cash rupees available daily, actually goes a long way.
It is also believed that the money supply situation is easing rapidly now too. More money becoming available. Nothing to worry about anyway, for those coming here. The money changers in the village are giving around 75 INR to the £. Not as good a rate as at the ATM but not that different either in the great scheme of things.
Anyway, that’s what we’ve found in case you were wondering!

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