Currency

A good supply of the Indian rupee (₹) INR in different denominations, some American Express traveler’s checks, and a major credit card (like Visa, MasterCard and AmEx) will be the most convenient ways to pay for products, services and experiences in the Andaman Islands. There are official money changers and banks at the airport, and you will get a better rate on the mainland than in the islands. Hold on to all your documentation during your vacation, including ATM receipts, so you can easily change your remaining rupees back to your own currency at the airport before leaving for home.

There are branches of Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank throughout the islands, as well as a few ATM locations in Port Blair only. The majority of island attractions, activities and casual dining are on a cash-only basis, while the higher-priced restaurants, resorts and watersports will accept credit cards. Check with your own bank and alert them to your travel to India so that your card doesn’t get blocked, and confirm with them that your credit card will be accepted at ATMs for cash withdrawals throughout the islands.

Coins come in denominations of ₹1, ₹2, ₹5 and ₹10 (the ₹1s and ₹2s look almost identical); notes come in ₹5, ₹10, ₹20, ₹50, ₹100, and the newly introduced ₹500 and ₹2000 (this last is handy for paying large bills but can pose problems when getting change for small purchases). The smallest value in use is (50 paise) or half rupee, but is not seen in wide circulation now.

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You can have fun haggling in markets, bazaars and with vendors in touristy locations, as well as when negotiating a fair rate for a taxi or rickshaw. It’s possible to get at least 10 rupees off the cost of your transportation, and a good rule of thumb is to remember that having many smaller bills and coins is better than a few larger bills, that may be difficult to break into smaller denominations.

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