When planning a holiday in the Maldives, currency usually isn’t high on the list until you’re just about to jet off, so we’ll get straight to the point and let you know that you can relax.
The currency of the Maldives is the Rufiyaa, but US dollars are accepted everywhere.
Maldives Currency – Brief History
The currency in the Maldives is called the Rufiyaa (pronounced roo-fee-yah) that has the symbol Rf and is from the Hindi word rupaya which is from Sanskrit meaning wrought silver.
The Rufiyaa was introduced in 1981 replacing the Maldivian Rupee. The Maldives Monetary Authority was the Maldives’ first central bank and the first commercial bank was the Bank of Maldives Limited. The bank opened in 1982 although originally owned by the Maldivian government and a finance company in Bangladesh it became 100% State owned by 1993… phew! History lesson over!
Maldives Currency – Brief Maths Lesson
The Rufiyaa comes in denominations of Rf500, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 bank notes and also come as coins in denominations of Rf2 and 1.
A single Maldivian Rufiyaa can be divided into 100 Laari. These are coins and come in, 50, 25, 10, 5, 2 and 1 Laari… phew! Maths lesson over!
Which Currency Should You Take?
You can try your luck with Rufiyaa, but with the Maldives currency exchange rate being Rf 12.8 to US $1 you’d need quite a few notes just to buy a beer. Phil’s always taken cash and I’ve always taken… his credit card (I think I might be busted now!) and this has always worked well.
As well as this we’ve noticed that Malé International Airport, resorts and resort gift shops price everything in US dollars… we’ve never once spotted anything priced in Rufiyaa in these places.
So the safest and easiest bet is to take the US dollar, even if you’re taking credit cards as you never know when you may need dollars available to tip or pay for something unexpected, like another bathing suit!
“What about other currencies?” I hear you ask. Well several of the larger resorts are now accepting Euros, Pounds Sterling, Yen and a few other major currencies… but our advice would be to check with your travel agent or even better, with the resort direct as to which currencies are accepted.
Travellers' Cheques, Cash or Card?
Travellers' cheques are generally accepted in US Dollars and in some places Pounds Sterling too. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, our top tip is to make sure your travellers’ cheques are in US Dollars.
If you're going to take cash with you, it might be easier to convert into dollars, before you travel. If you can't however, worry not, you can always do it at Malé International Airport; Huzzah!
Our Top Tip for credit cards is to find out before you travel whether your bank charges for international purchases… Mine does and Phil’s doesn’t which is why we use his cards abroad (at least that’s the reason I give!).
Credit cards are accepted on all the resorts, they're fully prepared for the fact not everyone likes to carry cash or traveller’s cheques and they’re not expecting tourists to carry Maldives currency either.
Hmm… Anything Else Catch Our Eye?
Debit cards are a whole different ball game and we suggest that these shouldn’t be relied on as we’ve yet to see any resort accept them and were told (when we tried to use ours) that we couldn’t.
We’ve seen a few sites saying that cash machines are readily available all over the Maldives and this isn’t strictly true… for tourists anyway. Yes Malé has ATMs and so do some of the larger inhabited islands (usually the capital island of each atoll) but if you’re not planning a trip to Malé then save yourself an unpleasant headache by converting your currency at the airport, ideally before arrival... The other thing to remember is that international ATM’s frequently charge for transactions.
You can also try your luck by exchanging cash at banks, but be aware that they too are mainly on Malé and larger inhabited islands and are usually open Sundays to Thursdays.
A final thought on Maldives currency, or rather payment options in the Maldives… besides the gift shops, more often than not, you’ll sign for your dive centre, bar and restaurant purchases and pay your bill at reception.
You can wait to the end of your holiday before settling your account or you can do it as often as you spend.
have a safe in your room
or have access to a safe in reception, so either way you won’t need to worry about carrying money with you everywhere you go; after all, who wants to deep sea dive with a pocket full of cash?
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