{{begin}} {{set title 'Tips About Banking, ATMs, HDFC, Credit Cards, MRP, Bargaining and Tipping in India'}} {{set template 'templates/page.html'}} {{set menu 'planning'}} {{set submenu 'in_finance'}} {{set submenufile 'planning/menu.html'}}


In this section I will briefly cover a number of facets of finance - ATM's, credit cards, bargaining and tipping.

Access to money from ATM's, banks or vendors that allow you to make cash advances on your Visa or Mastercard relatively straight forward in all cities and larger towns. Paying cash for everything is usually best, therefore the use of credit cards for purchases or carrying travellers cheques is really not necessary. For small towns and very rural areas, make sure to carry enough cash for the period you intend to stay.

Canadian interac bank cards generally do not seem to work at Indian ATMs; even the ones that have the "plus" symbol. I have only found one bank, HDFC, which reliably works with all my cards, all of the time. The Bank of Barroda ATMs sometime work as well. Most bank machines will accept VISA or MasterCard, if you don't know your credit card PIN (like myself), call your bank before your departure and have them send you a PIN in the mail. To avoid interest charges on credit card cash advances, transfer money onto your credit card and carry a postive cash balance if possible.

Vendors usually charge 3% for cash advances on credit cards. In addition to immeditally accruing interest charges on cash advances (if you do not carry a positive balance), your bank may also levy additional fees for these transactions.

Always carry a selection of coins and small bills; this way you avoid the likely situation where your taxi driver or vendor has "no change" and you are stuck paying more than you want.

Keep your money safe and preferrably in separate places. Avoid keeping money or important documents in easily accesible clothing pockets - especially at airports, train stations, bus stops and while in-transit.

In India it is essential that you bargain! It really is not necessary to pay double, triple or even ten times the price for something but more importantly, I believe that travellers have a responsibility to ensure that they pay fair prices for goods and services received - even if they can afford the inflated rates. Goods and services have an intrinsic value in India - encouraging outrageously inflated prices for these goods and services by not bargaining continues the escalation in prices and reduces value for future travellers. More importantly, consider the 70-year old lady who comes back from the market with heavy bags - she used to take an auto rickshaw for 5 rupees but now no rickshaw will pick her up anymore because they are all waiting for the tourist who carelessly pays 50 or maybe even 100 ruppees for the same distance!

Most packaged products are stamped with an MRP (Maximum Retail Price) which is inclusive of ALL taxes. Vendors should not be charging you more than the MRP! Some vendors will try to charge you considerably more and site all sorts of elborate reasons why. Don't buy into their story or their product! On a number of occasions I have simply plunked down the MRP, taken the product and left the shop. Sometimes vendors charge one or two rupees more and depending on what it is, I will let this slide. unscrupulous vendors will change the MRP by either etching away the original price and replacing it with something much higher, or they might put an additional stamp on the product and will explain that you must pay the higher price, or they might overtly put a sticker over the MRP with their own price. You will quickly figure out what the actual MRP should be and since most products are sold in every other shop, I encourage people to purchase from those vendors that charge no more than original MRP.

Tipping can cause a bit of headache at the best of times. Generally, the non-touristy places in India do not expect a tip. If the service has been good, I leave the change (coins) for the waiter or on a larger bill maybe a 10 rupee note. In touristy places, waiters expect a tip but it still isn't mandatory. If the service has been exceptional, I sometimes have tipped a little more. When staying at a guesthouse/hotel for extended periods of time and running a tab, I treat tipping a little different. In this case, one usually befriends the staff and they tend to go out of their way to make your stay better. I tend to set aside 10-20% of the tab to be distributed between waiters/servers/cooks at the end. For treks, safaris, and other guided adventures, I have generally tipped around 10% if the service has been good. When tipping, I think it's important to keep in perspective the value of the money you are giving. Many of the waiters, cooks, guides etc that I have met here in India make anywhere from 30 to 80 rupees a day (that's 0.75 cents on the low end to just over two dollars on the high end).