Will Ola and Uber accept cash

What electronic payment systems are available to foreigners in India?

Warning: outdated answer

This answer was written during the 2016 Indian banknote demonization crisis, and many parts of the answer were written with that in mind. Additionally, there is extremely rapid technological and economic advancement in India, so everything else in this answer is likely to get more and more imprecise over time. I no longer live in India and I will not update this answer if things change.


widely accepted for everyday shopping

There is no such thing in India. There is a lot of talk about using systems to allow people to make and receive payments on their smartphones, but nothing is widespread yet.

In larger cities, some of the larger stores and businesses accept payment cards, but the vast majority of businesses do not. This is even more true in smaller cities and rural areas, where cash is usually the only method of payment.

One of the reasons for this is that Indian banks charge fees for card payments and the company has to pay them. Of those who accept cards, some do not accept foreign cards.

I use PayTM myself. I think you actually need an Indian number to use it. And you need an Indian payment card or internet bank to load money on it. You might be able to load money into an office by paying cash, but that would defeat the purpose (cash is hard to come by).

In addition, PayTM is not very popular as a payment method in stores. It's a bit more common in big cities, but not really something to rely on.

My advice: Bring a foreign payment card (VISA or MasterCard / Maestro) with low fees and use it if you can. And get as much money as possible. You just can't travel in India without cash. You can also bring some US dollars to use when paying large amounts. Given the current situation, it might not be that difficult to convince people to accept them for payments. However, you may not receive any changes to them. But they are great for emergencies.

Yes, getting cash is difficult these days. But ATMs are now starting to open. You may have to wait in line for a while to find an ATM that is open, but the cash is well worth getting. A friend of mine with a German debit card was standing in line the other day. There was a limit of 2000 per person, but she actually managed to make 8 withdrawals and thus receive 16,000. Apparently the system didn't stop her from making multiple withdrawals as she had a foreign card. For more advice on getting cash, see this relevant answer.

ksav

You mention USD, but is that any more acceptable compared to GBP or EUR?

Revetahw

@ksav All three are acceptable, but USD is preferred and most widely accepted.

JonathanReez ♦

You should update your answer as the money shortage is over.

Revetahw

@JonathanReez I don't live in India anymore so I am not up to date on how things have changed there. Obviously, the part where getting cash is tough is almost certainly not true anymore. Anyway, I've added a warning to the answer.