If you are going abroad or coming to India, don’t exchange foreign currency at the Delhi airport.
In comparison to exchange counters in other parts of the Capital, here you will end up paying as much as Rs. 4-5 extra per dollar when you convert rupees into dollars.
At the same time, you will lose roughly the same amount per dollar when you convert dollars into rupees. A similar disparity is observed in the case of other foreign currencies such as the euro as well.
On Friday, HT found that the selling rate at one of the forex counters at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGAI) was Rs. 64.35 for a dollar and the buying rate was Rs. 55.85 a dollar.
On the same day, the selling rate for the dollar elsewhere in the city was Rs. 60.50 and the buying rate was Rs. 59. The dollar-rupee exchange rate at the time was Rs. 60.31.
In retail money exchange terms, the buying rate is the rate at which money dealers will buy foreign currency, while the selling rate is the rate at which they will sell the currency.
It is slightly different from the exchange rate of the day as it also incorporates the dealer’s margin or commission.
Thomas Cook and Central Bank of India, the two currency dealers which operate exchange counters at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, say that their rates are different from those of other dealers elsewhere in the city because of the exorbitant rents they pay for their space at the arrival and departure halls.
“I made a mistake by exchanging dollars at the airport as I lost Rs. 5 a dollar. If you are exchanging in bulk, as I did $1,000, you would end up losing Rs. 5,000,” said Devasheesh Singh, a passenger, who had recently travelled to the US from Delhi.
“Globally, the foreign exchange rates are higher at airport counters than elsewhere in the city due to a multitude of factors, including higher costs of operation at airports. It is the same global market practice followed in India as well,” a spokesperson for Thomas Cook (India) said.
While passengers are suffering, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said the rates are market-determined.
“The foreign exchange rates charged by the authorised dealers and full fledged money changers (FFMC) have been deregulated and are market-determined. The FFMCs are free to fix their own rate based on the nature of the transactions, own operational cost, etc,” an RBI spokesperson said.
“Since the entities offering foreign exchange conversion services are entities regulated by RBI, any complaint pertaining to them can be addressed to our customer services department or foreign exchange department,” the spokesperson added.