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Money and Shopping in Egypt

Money and Shopping in Egypt

  • Local Currency
  • The local currency is the Egyptian Pound (EGP), which is divided into 100 piastres. The currency is often written as LE (short for French livre égyptienne) or by using the pound sign . In Arabic the pound is called gunaih (جنيه), in turn derived from English "guinea", and piastres are known as qirsh or "'irsh" (قرش). The Egyptian pound has been devaluating gradually over the last several decades. In the 1950s or 1960s, the Egyptian Pound was rated almost the same as the British Pound. In fact, the Egyptian pound's value was so high that 1 LE was nearly equal 1 Gold Pound. Today 1 Gold Pound is worth more than 1,000 L.E.! As of April 2011, £1 = 9.7 LE and was as high as LE 11 up until the time before the economic recession and financial crisis of the last three years when most foreign currencies have lost a small amount of their value against the Egyptian Pound. As of April 2011, other currencies value as follows: $1 = LE 6.0 / €1 = LE 8.7 / A$1 = LE 6.3
  • Exchanging Money and Banks
  • Foreign currencies can be exchanged at exchange offices or banks, so there is no need to resort to the dodgy street moneychangers. Many higher-end hotels price in dollars or euros and will gladly accept them as payment, although often at a premium rate over Egyptian pounds. ATMs are ubiquitous in the cities and probably the best option overall; they often offer the best rate and many foreign banks have branches in Egypt. These include Barclay's Bank, HSBC, CitiBank, NSGB, BNP Paribas, Piraeus Bank, CIB, and other local and Arab Banks. Bank hours are Sunday through Thursday, 8:30AM until 2PM. Banknotes are available in all denominations ranging from 200 pounds to the thoroughly useless 5 piastres, while coins were rather rare until new 50-piastre and 1-pound coins were introduced in the summer of 2006. Counterfeit or obsolete notes are not a major problem, but exchanging pounds outside the country can be difficult. American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are accepted, but only bigger hotels or restaurants in Cairo and restaurants in tourist areas will readily accept credit cards as payment. Traveler's checks can be exchanged in any bank, but it could take some time.

    The Most Frequently Asked Travel Questions about Egypt

    Hoard your small bills!

    Egypt has a perpetual shortage of small bills and change. It's so extreme even banks are reluctant to break too many bills! Vendors will also perpetually say they do not have change. As such - hoard your small bills as much as you can, be prepared to make bank runs for change, and break your bills in the easiest situations (e.g. large supermarkets, etc.).

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    Egypt Travel Guide from Wikitravel. Many thanks to all Wikitravel contributors. Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0, images are available under various licenses, see each image for details.

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