You pack your bags for traveling to Iran, collect all your documents such as passports, tickets, etc., and also your credit card for travel expenses, unaware that you cannot use your credit card (Master, visa, etc.) in Iran. Actually, you need cash in Iran. Now, these questions arise: How much money should I take to Iran? What is the Iranian currency? Can I use my debit card, and how to exchange money in Iran? What is the Iran currency exchange rate? Which currency can be exchanged in Iran? Etc.
Notably, although Iran is an affordable destination, it has special economic conditions. Therefore, before traveling to Iran, you should have enough information about the Iranian currency.
Hence, we provide you with the information you need about money in Iran as a tourist on this page.
What is Iran Currency? Rial or Toman?
Iranian currency is confusing for a tourist visiting Iran. Firstly, Iran’s official currency is the Iranian Rial (with the ISO code IRR). And you see this official unit on the Iranian banknotes and coins. Secondly, the Iranians say prices in Toman. But it becomes more confusing when some of the price labels are in Rial, and some in Toman!
So, the most important thing that you should consider is that Toman, which is common in oral quotes, is equivalent to 10 Rials. Moreover, Iranian people usually omit the words “thousand” and “million” when talking about prices in thousands and millions.
Now, let us make it more clear with an example; When buying something in Iran, if the seller quotes 10,000 Toman (or 10 Toman), you must pay 100,000 Rials.
Moreover, as mentioned, prices written on the labels are either in Rial or Toman, and to avoid mistakes, you should always double-check the price with the seller. Notably, on manufactured supermarket products, such as packaged foods and beverages, the prices are in Rial. On the other hand, the prices written manually on the products such as Iran souvenirs are usually in Toman. Therefore, you need to ask and make sure that if the price is in Rial or Toman. Moreover, the Iran online taxi price in Snapp and TAPSI applications are in Toman. Finally, to avoid mistakes, keep in mind these two Persian words in the Persian alphabet:
Iranian Banknotes and Coins
Iranian banknotes and coins are in Rial. And the most common Iranian bank notes are 10000, 20000, 50000, 100000, 500000 and 1000000. On the other hand, as the Iranian currency has lost its value, the Iranian coins are not common in daily transactions. After all, as Iranian people pay the expenses with the local credit cards, the vendors may not have enough cash to return your change.
You can find the images of Iranian banknotes and coins used in daily transactions in Iran below.
Can I use my debit card in Iran?
Due to the sanctions imposed on Iranian banks, international credit cards, and Debit cards such as Visa card and Mastercard do not work in Iran. In other words, you cannot withdraw any cash from ATMs in Iran or pay your expenses by your international card; Unless in a few places such as some handmade carpet stores or some travel agencies. Hence, you need to bring enough cash, preferably US dollars or euro, with you when traveling to Iran.
How to Exchange Money in Iran?
You arrived at Iran Airport, and you know that your credit cards do not work in Iran. But you need money to pay for a taxi to the hotel. Fortunately, there are exchange kiosks at the airport where you can change your cash into Iranian currency. Therefore, you have to convert some of your money at the airport into Iranian Rials. However, we recommend exchanging a small amount of your money at the airport, as the Iranian exchange rate is usually lower there. By the way, at Imam Khomeini airport, you’d better exchange your money at the exchange shop located on the second floor’s departure hall that offers better rates.
As soon as you get into the city, you can exchange money at the money exchange private shops called “Sarafi” at better rates. However, you’d better check the currency exchange rates displayed on the LED boards of Sarafi shops for better rates. In this table, we introduce the best center of Sarāfi offices in some of Iran major cities where you can change your cash to Iranian currency at the best rates:
|City||Center of Money Exchangers|
|Shiraz||Zand Street Near Karimkhan Citadel|
|Isfahan||Tohid Street, Hakim Nezami Street|
|Mashhad||Emam Khomeini Street|
|Tabriz||Darayi Street near Tabriz Grand Bazaar|
As you can see in the table, the best center of Sarāfi offices in Tehran is located at Ferdowsi Square. Notably, there is a Metro station on the corner of Ferdowsi square.
Moreover, we do not recommend changing your money in the Iranian banks because you need to wait a lot and change your money at a lower rate. Also, you can change your money to Iranian currency in your hotel but at a lower rate.
Finally, at the end of your Iran tour, you can exchange your Iranian Rial to USD or Euro at the Iran airport.
Iranian Currency Exchange Rate
Please note that the open market or free-market exchange rate in Iran is different from the official Iranian currency rate. And the highest exchange rate is the free market rate. In other words, the foreign currency has more value against the Iranian currency in the open market. And as a tourist, you will change your money with free-market exchange rates.
Notably, most websites that provide the currency rates, such as Xe.com, offer the official Iranian currency rates, not the open market rates you need. But don’t worry, there are some websites like bonbast.com, which provide open-market exchange rates in Iran.
Iran Tourist Card
Iranian people widely use the local debit cards and are less willing to carry cash around. But, tourists visiting Iran can’t use their credit cards or withdraw money from ATMs in Iran, and carrying a large amount of cash is their concern. Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem: “Iran tourist Card.” Accordingly, you can easily apply for an Iran tourist card online and have an Iranian prepaid debit card designed for temporary visitors and tourists.
Furthermore, you can optionally charge your card online from your country or load it with cash upon arrival in Iran. Besides, you can add money to your card and withdraw your money when you want, like a local; ATMs are everywhere. Finally, at the end of your Iran trip, they exchange all your leftover Rials in your tourist card into the same currency you loaded up the card with.