Cash Crisis in India and How to Prepare
Identifying Payment Options Amidst India's Cash Shortage
If you're traveling to India in the next few weeks and months, it's crucial that you carefully plan your cash payments or make alternate arrangements ahead of time due to the country's current financial disruptions.
Cash Situation in India
On November 8, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi abruptly declared that all 500 and 1,000 rupee notes would be invalid on January 1 in an effort to curb corruption, tax evasion, and illegal cash holdings. Individuals were told they could deposit the old notes in the bank or exchange them prior to that date and that new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes would be issued.
Although the deadline has passed, the repercussions of this massive policy change continue, with reports of long lines at banks, many ATMs not working, and other significant disruptions in the largely cash-based economy.
What You Can Do
- Expect difficulties obtaining cash to pay small costs.
- Check with local partners to learn about any difficulties they are having and whether they can help you get expedient access to cash. Small-town ATMs may be more likely to have cash, though the standard limitation of 4,500 rupees per day, per card applies.
- Make arrangements to pay for large expenses (e.g. hotels, airline tickets, train tickets) in advance by credit card, where available.
- Explore using mobile payment apps such as Paytm, Oxigen Wallet, MobiKwik, and others.
- Download transportation apps like Uber, Ola, and Meru to use in the bigger cities (e.g. Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai).
- Contact us if you have specific questions about your trip.
Additional Travel Resources and Reminders
- Harvard Travel Registry: Enter your trip details (destination, dates, phone number, email address, emergency contacts, etc.) and update them if plans change.
- Email alerts: Sign up to be notified of major incidents in your area.
- Harvard Travel Assist: Contact our 24/7 global emergency response program for medical or security support while abroad at +1-617-998-0000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.