In this post: What is the best currency to take to Egypt? What is the currency of Egypt? Can I use U.S. dollars USD $, Pound sterling GBP £ or Euro € in Egypt? Where and how I can exchange the money in Egypt? Which currency you should take and use in Egypt?
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Are you travelling to Egypt and confused if you should change the money in Egypt or before travelling to Egypt? Read this post to find all about the Egyptian currency and dealing with it in Egypt.
1. WHAT IS THE CURRENCY OF EGYPT? INFORMATION ABOUT THE EGYPTIAN POUND
The currency of Egypt is an Egyptian pound. Egyptian pound (Egyptian Arabic: جنيه مصرى ) has been used in Egypt since 1834. The ISO code for Egyptian pound is EGP, but LE. or L.E. is mostly used. LE comes from the words livre égyptienne, which stands for Egyptian pound in French. The symbol for Egyptian pound is £ or E£.
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One Egyptian pound is made up of 100 piasters (pt.).
There are coins for one pound and for 25 and 50 piasters. But. it’s also possible to find 25 and 50 piasters banknotes in Egypt, though they have become very rare in Egypt, especially 25 piaster note. 50 piaster notes are still available, but not that common.
There are banknotes for one, five, 10, 20, 50, 100 & 200 Egyptian pounds (LE).
Coins are for 25 & 50 piasters and one pound. Small notes and coins are always finished from every supermarket and shop in Egypt. Save them when you can; you’ll need the small money also for tipping and public toilets.
So, don’t get confused, when you get a biscuit or packet of chewing gum as a change instead of coins.
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In the pictures above one pound and 50 piaster coins. Don’t mix one pound coin to 2 Euro coin, they look very similar to each other.
Be extra cautious when paying with cash in Egypt. Count the money when paying, you can even say the amount aloud when handling the money. “Here is 100 pounds note for you.”
Egyptian notes are bilinguals; observe is Arabic with eastern Arabic numbers and Arabic texts, the reverse is with western Arabic numbers and English texts. This helps you to recognize the notes easier. Be careful with the notes and always check the change.
Earlier when 50 Piaster note wasn’t that rare, one of the most used trick to scam tourists was to change 50 Egyptian pounds (LE.) note to 50 piasters note. You pay with 50 LE. note and the seller changes the note to 50 piasters note behind your back. “-You gave me only 50 piasters, hahahaa.”
And then you give him/her another 50 LE. and pay double price. Be careful with the notes, always check the notes before paying, someone may still try this trick even with other notes for example from 10 to 100.
Always check the money before paying!
In the picture above 50 Egyptian pounds and 50 Piasters notes. The only thing these notes have common is number 50.
2. EGYPTIAN POUND NOW-WHAT HAPPENED TO THE EGYPTIAN POUND IN 2016?
Egypt faced a big economic crisis starting after the Arab spring in 2011. The economic crisis culminated at the end of the year 2016 when Egyptian pound was set to free float on the 3rd of November.
In floatation, the Egyptian pound lost half of its’ value compared to hard foreign currencies eg. Pound Sterling GBP £, Euro EUR € & U.S. dollar USD $.
For foreign investors and people using foreign currency the devaluation of Egyptian currency was a really good thing. Prices dropped and everything became cheap compared to earlier. Foreign money started to flow back to Egypt.
For normal Egyptians situation isn’t that good. Because of the devaluation, all the prices in Egypt started to rise and everything has become more expensive. For example, food, rents, gas and electric are more expensive now, but salaries haven’t increased in relation to prices.
Luckily now it looks like the economy in Egypt is slowly rising and tourism is getting back on the track. For tourists, Egypt is still cheap, though the prices have increased since 2016.
To read more about the situation in Egypt now read the Al Jazeera article from July.
To take a closer look for the living costs in Egypt, click here.
At the moment, the Egyptian pound is getting slowly stronger against the other currencies. If you still thinking about whether you should travel to Egypt now or later; I say travel to Egypt now and do it fast before the prices get higher.
For checking current exchange rates in Egypt I prefer using the Official website of the Central Bank of Egypt:
And for converting Egyptian pounds to other currency GBP, EUR 0R USD., I’ve found CIB banks converter to be the best. Here is a link to it: CIB CURRENCY CONVERTER
3. WHAT IS THE BEST CURRENCY TO TAKE TO EGYPT? CAN I USE U.S. DOLLARS USD $, POUND STERLINGS GBP £ OR EUROS EUR € IN EGYPT?
One of the most asked questions is: WHAT IS THE BEST CURRENCY TO TAKE TO EGYPT?
Can I pay with U.S dollars, Pound sterling or Euros in Egypt? -Yes, you can BUT:
Take U.S. Dollars USD, Euros EUR or Pound sterlings GBP with you and exchange the money to Egyptian currency in Egypt.
What comes to using other currencies in Egypt, I don’t recommend it. You’re the one who will lose when dealing with foreign currency in Egypt. Even though you are used to using the currency daily, it’s different to use it in Egypt.
I know some tourist are using US Dollar, Euros or Pound sterling in Egypt. It’s not a big crime, but it’s not vice either. Most shops accept foreign currencies and they are even more valued in Egypt than Egyptian pound itself.
But still, I recommend you to use Egyptian pounds while being in Egypt. It’s easier and safer, especially for you.
If you use a foreign currency in Egypt, you are most likely going to pay too much about everything. And at the end of the day, you are dealing with two currencies. Shops, cafes and restaurants will give the change you back in Egyptian pounds. They don’t keep USD, Euros or GBP under the desk. Usually, they don’t even have enough Egyptian pounds.
Exchange and use Egyptian pounds in Egypt and you are less confused.
4. WHERE AND HOW TO EXCHANGE THE CURRENCY IN EGYPT? SHOULD I EXCHANGE THE MONEY IN EGYPT OR BEFORE TRAVELLING?
Best way to deal with the currency in Egypt is to exchange Egyptian pounds in Egypt.
Exchanging money in Egypt is easy and you get a better rate in Egypt than outside the country.
You can exchange the money at the Airport, ATM’s, banks, biggest hotels and exchange offices. Even most of the ATM’s have an exchange option. The most common places to change the money in Egypt are ATMs, banks & exchange offices.
Read more about Egypt: A VISA TO EGYPT-EGYPT VISA REQUIREMENTS F.A.Q
5. EXCHANGING AND WITHDRAWING THE MONEY FROM THE ATM’S IN EGYPT
I have used the ATM’S for changing the money hundreds of times in Egypt and I’ve never lost any money for the ATMs (fingers crossed). But still, it’s always a little scary to put money inside the machine.
ATM machines exchange at least USD $, EUR € and GBP £ to Egyptian pounds. Also, other currencies may be accepted.
Check the exchange rate and fees before accepting the exchange. Some ATMs may charge more than the others. Also exchange rates vary between the banks and ATMs.
If the ATM has an exchange option, there are usually two slots in the machine, other is for money input and other for withdrawals. Changing the money with the ATM’s is relatively safe.
Just don’t let anyone stranger to assist you.
Here is a picture of an ATM, which has an exchange option.
Safety isn’t the biggest problem when dealing with ATMs in Egypt. The Bigger problem is; Sometimes ATMs are just not working or there is no money inside the machines. In this situation, you just need to wait or find another machine that has money inside. If it’s a national holiday and the banks are closed, it may be hard to find a working machine.
To avoid this situation; don’t wait until you’ve run out of the cash, especially if you know you’re going to need more money later.
Exchange the money when you have a chance, don’t do like me and wait until the last minute. All the machines in Red Sea Resorts should have been updated to accept new Euro and Sterling banknotes.
6. INTERNATIONAL WITHDRAWALS WITH DEBIT/CREDIT CARD IN EGYPT
You can make international withdrawals with your bank card from the ATMs in Egypt. Most ATMs accept Visa and Mastercard.
Contact your bank to check the fees and make sure your card works abroad before travelling. Probably there are some expenses when taking cash out abroad. Usually, a bank takes at least a few per cent commission, when you make an international withdrawal.
Contact your bank before travelling to check the expenses of using your card abroad.
Many bigger shops accept Debit/Credit cards as a paying method (Visa & Mastercard). I prefer paying with my debit card instead of making withdrawals from ATMs because it’s cheaper for me. My bank doesn’t charge anything when I pay with the card, but when I make a withdrawal it takes 2%. Be aware, that if you have a debit/credit card, sometimes it goes automatically to your credit side.
Again, contact your bank before travelling.
7. EXCHANGING THE MONEY IN THE BANKS OF EGYPT
You can also exchange Egypt currency in the banks. There are multiple international and local bank branches operating in Egypt; HSBC, AHLI, Bank Masr, CIB, ADIB, ABC, just to name some of the many.
It’s not hard to find a bank where to exchange money in Egypt. Banks are everywhere.
If you exchange the money in banks, you need to have your passport with you. Bank may take a copy of your passport. Usually, they charge a small exchange commission.
Banks in Egypt are open from Sunday till Thursday and closed on Friday and Saturday. Different branches have their own opening hours, some are open from 8:30 to 15:00 (03:00 pm) and some banks are open till 17:00 (05:00 pm).
All the banks are closed on National Holidays. Go to the bank after the breakfast between Sunday to Thursday and they are more likely to be open. Be prepared to queue for a while.
It’s also possible to use exchange offices for changing the currency. Also, some of the biggest hotels have an option for exchanging the money too.
8. THE EXCHANGE OFFICES & EXCHANGING THE MONEY IN HOTELS
You will find exchange offices from the biggest cities in Egypt. Also, hotel receptions may change the Egyptian currency. Exchanging the money in the hotels may be expensive, so it’s better to do in exchange offices, banks or ATMs. Don’t forget to take your passport with you.
9. DEALING WITH THE CURRENCY IN EGYPT
After you have exchanged Egyptian currency you probably have lots of big notes. Try to save small notes for taxis, tips and everything. Whenever there is a change pay with a big note, for example, in the supermarkets or other big shops.
When dealing with Egyptian pounds, you will notice fast that banknotes are very dirty. You probably want to use hand sanitizer after handling the Egyptian pounds. Seriously some of the notes are very dirty.
Take some time and check the money carefully before paying and when receiving the change. To make shopping easier, download a currency converter app to your smartphone or use an old school calculator to convert the currency. I’m sure you are more than familiar with Egyptian currency after a few days in Egypt!
Don’t stress about the Egypt currency, for sure you will get to used to it very fast!
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MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE CURRENCY IN EGYPT: