Check whether the bank of your choice offers its services throughout all of India. Many Indian banks tend to focus on local markets. Some will have branches only in rural areas, others only in big cities. If you have to travel often this can be a major obstacle, so make sure that your bank has branches in areas where you will be working.
If you work in India your employer will usually help you setting up a bank account. This will not only ease the paperwork, but can also offer additional advantages. Since Indian companies usually work together with only one or two banks, they are offered special conditions for their accounts. As an employee you can take advantage of these conditions. Typical special offers include free overdraft limits, slightly better loan conditions or free account-keeping.
Of course, you can also open a bank account on your own. You will have to fill in an application form and provide proof of identity and address at a local branch of your chosen bank. You also need to provide your passport with your valid India visa and your FRRO registration.
Almost all banks demand a one-time payment to open an account. Since some banks only accept Indian cheques you might need to ask a friend or co-worker in India you help you get one.
Be aware that your signature on the application has to exactly match the one in your passport. Indian banks are very strict when it comes to proving your identity via signature and you will have problems opening your account if you cannot reproduce your signature. Bank transactions that require signatures are also checked very thoroughly.
Right after filing the paperwork you will receive a welcoming pack including your cheque book, debit card with PIN and, (if you choose), your on-line banking access data. However, it will take a few days until your documents will be approved. Until then, you cannot use your bank account.
Applying for a credit card
Getting a credit card with your Indian account is complicated. There is a lot paperwork needed and the validity of the card will usually be limited to the validity of your visa. If you can't provide proof of good credit standing some banks may require you to pay a security deposit.
On-line banking in India
All major Indian banks offer on-line banking. It may take a while to set up you account, but once you have it you will save time on all your bank transactions and bill payments. Since a single bank transfer can easily take half a day at a local bank, Internet banking is a highly recommended alternative.