How NRIs visiting India can minimize their expenses

 travelling to your home country can involve both essential and unnecessary expenses..
travelling to your home country can involve both essential and unnecessary expenses..


Vacations can be an exorbitant affair and need meticulous planning to cut down on spending.

The holiday season is here. It is that time of the year when many people go for a vacation. This is particularly true for non-resident Indians (NRIs), who travel to India to visit their homes and families. While vacations are an exorbitant affair and need meticulous planning, here are some cool tips that will help you save on expenses.

Budget your visit: If you are an NRI, do note that travelling to your home country can involve both essential and unnecessary expenses. So, before flying to India, make sure that you have a itinerary and a budget in place. It is absolutely essential to plan your visit in advance as this helps you save on primary expenses such as airline tickets and tour packages. Do use multiple online search engines for planning a trip. This will help you compare airfares offered on different websites for different flights and dates. Set up notification alerts on your laptop, smartphone, etc., to get advance information on any drop in fares and hotel prices. In some cases, travel agents can also help you get a good deal.

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Accommodation: NRIs who have a family home in India can save on accommodation costs. The other option for them is to stay with relatives or friends. Anup Bansal, chief business officer, Scripbox, said, “If you don’t have the option of staying with someone, you should consider renting an Airbnb or a homestay, which is far more affordable than a hotel." Bansal also said, “If your purpose of visiting India is to explore the country, you can plan a trip during the tourist off-season period and book your flights and accommodation beforehand to minimize expenses."

Connectivity: NRIs can save on data costs if they have a local Sim card. They can obtain a new Sim card by submitting a request form to the telecom provider with all details and submit relevant documents such as photocopies of the passport and visa and passport-size photographs (usually, the provider requires one photo, although some Indian states can ask for up to four photographs)," said Bansal. However, if you already have an Indian Sim linked to a savings bank account in the country, you should keep that SIM active by recharging it with a minimum balance voucher from time to time.


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Spending mode: You can load your existing credit card or a travel credit card to make payments during your India visit. Those having a Non-resident Ordinary Account (NRO) or Non-Resident External Account (NRE) account should contact their banker to get the relevant debit or credit cards so that they don’t have to face challenges with currency conversion or pay higher charges on any payments. Typically, an NRO account is preferred in such cases as it offers the facility of local debit/credit cards.

Adhil Shetty, CEO of, said, “The easiest way to reduce expenses is by using an Indian NRE/NRO account or credit card. Using an international credit card can increase your expenses by as much as 5% in some cases."

Shetty explained, “You may have to pay currency conversion charges each time you transact on an international card. These can be 1-2% of the transaction and are charged by the card payment processor (usually Visa, MasterCard, or American Express) or the ATM network. Besides, the lender may also levy 1-5% foreign transaction charges. In many cases, currency conversion charges may be bundled with the foreign transaction charges, and you may not need to pay this separately. You will also be liable to pay cash withdrawal charges at a much higher rate if you withdraw cash outside your home country. So, having an Indian bank account to fall back on can make life much simpler and less expensive. But it is advisable not to use cards belonging to your parents, relatives, spouse, or others. The credit card issuer may not be liable to reimburse you in case of any fraudulent transactions or even the loss of the card."

UPI: There are no geographical restrictions for money transfers using UPI, or unified payments interface, An NRI can use UPI to send and receive money from other people in India. While transferring money, NRIs can use a 4-digit virtual address that acts as a bank account number .

Bansal said that if NRIs use their Indian bank account and a local phone number to register for UPI before departing from India, they can use it without any hassle whenever they are in the country. If NRIs have an NRO account linked to an Indian phone number, they can register on UPI apps to make payments. However, the transactions depend on whether the selected bank is available under a particular UPI network. Also, NRIs need to activate UPI option through net banking or by contacting the bank. “For any other accounts, including Foreign Currency Non-Resident Account (FCNR), NRIs cannot use UPI apps," said Bansal.

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