During my trips to India…..I am absolutely against using ATMs to withdraw cash
Unless there is an absolute dire need, withdrawing cash using foreign debit cards at ATMs in India is like ‘penalty’ just because you need money.
Consider this: I withdrew $325 using my Bank of America’s debit card at Citibank’s ATM in New Delhi.
For this transaction, I paid the following charges:
- $5.00: charged by Bank of America for using Citi’s ATM
- $2.00 charged by Citibank
- $3.25: this is 1% of $325 that Bank of America charged me as foreign transaction fee.
So, overall I paid $10.25 as charges and fees to withdraw just a small amount of $325. This comes out to be 3.15% of the total transaction and have yet not accounted the exchange rate difference which I could have further saved if used some better alternate to transfer money.
For Indians, who reside abroad but have bank accounts in India, they can transfer money to India online from their foreign bank accounts to their bank accounts in India and easily withdraw the money when needed.
But for foreign nationals who don’t have bank account in India, alternate to ATM transaction is use of money transfer service providers like Western Union, Xoom, Moneydart, etc. All these service providers have the mechanisms of transferring money to you within an hour or within 1 to 2 days either at your place of stay in India or at their nearby authorized agent. There are charges associated with this kind of online transfer but by no means they amount to anywhere close to 3% in case of ATM transactions. TransFast, Moneydart, XOOM, Western Union for example, can transfer few thousand dollars online while charging anywhere between $5 to $15 per transaction. You can get more details from their websites: www.transfast.com, www.moneydart.com, www.westernunion.com, www.xoom.com.
The only thing you have to do with these service providers is to open up an account with them and link it with your bank account. I strongly advise you to open up an account with these service providers before you travel to India as it might take 1-2 days before it is active.