What currency to bring to Armenia. Credit card or cash?
According to the laws of the Republic of Armenia, the trade in foreign currency is prohibited. It may be troublesome when doing shopping, because most of the time people won’t take foreign cash, but even if they do, be aware it’s been exchanged at a quite low rate.
This does not appear to be a big problem, since there are tons of banks and exchange points in Armenia. You can exchange your currency right at the airport, since, there are banks delivering services on 24/7 schedule. However, we wouldn’t suggest exchanging there all the money you have, since, the airport exchange rates are considerably high. You can exchange only some money until you get to Yerevan.
In general, Russian ruble, American dollar, Euro, Georgian lari and GB pound are commonly used in Armenia and you can easily exchange those in any bank or exchange points. Trade banks, of course, accept a much wider variety of other currencies as opposed to exchange points. But it is strongly recommended to convert your money to one of the above mentioned currency before arrival to Armenia, since any other currency is estimated very low.
To get some initial picture of currency conversion, you might find useful visiting Armenian Central Bank’s website, where you can find exchange rates…and some financial info if you are interested in it. (Are you? Really?)
While trade banks in Armenia work 5 days a week basically until 5:00 pm and the exchange rate they offer may not always be favorable for you, the points of exchange are open much longer and always propose a better rate. Well… where can you find these exchange points? They are mostly located in large and medium trading areas or supermarkets. And since almost all large supermarkets in Armenia work for 24 hours, you can easily exchange your money in Yerevan with the best rate at any hour of the day.
Photo by Armenuhy Hovakimyan
Don’t be surprised if you’re asked to show your passport. That means you are exchanging more than $1000. However, if you don’t want to do so, you’ll have to approach the window twice.
As to credit cards, in Armenia we widely use Master, Visa, American Express and they are served by many ATMs, especially in Yerevan down-town area, near hotels and supermarkets. You can also make payments with cards in many stores, food places, and hotels. Nevertheless, you’d better not rely on credit cards when going to the regions and countryside. Even if a rare ATM is found, it might be out of order, forcing you to look for a neighbouring bank branch, which will not work after 5:00 pm.
Considering the fact that local people generally prefer doing trade in cash, we advise you to prepare the amount of money you’re planning to spend while being in the countryside in cash before leaving Yerevan.