One of the biggest challenges for Iran tourist’s after arrival is differing between Rials and Toman. And in general, using Iran’s official currency. The official currency is Iranian Rial (IRR) and all notes are printed in Iranian Rial. But in general speaking and daily life, locals almost always talk about Toman. One Toman is equal to ten Rials. Usually, you will find the prices in Rials on tickets, price tags, restaurant menu and almost all of written prices which exactly match what you can see on the bank notes. The complications start when someone is giving you a price orally. If you ask why? The Iran currency changed to Rial from 1930’s. Yet, because of popularity of Toman as a powerful currency for many years, it continued not officially but in folk’s daily life trading.
In this article, we will try to address the main questions and complications regarding Iran’s currency according to tourists.
What is Iran’s Currency? Rial or Toman?
Usually, the main question of a tourist is whether it’s Rial or Toman published on the banknotes and coins? First, remember, Rial and Toman are not two different kind of bank notes, but different methods of referring to the same currency. Or another way to tell the price of goods and services. This is only how people use to talk about the price of any goods. For example, if the price tag on a product states the price in Rial is 40,000 Rials, when you ask the sales man about its price, you will be told that the price is 4.000 Toman.
How to convert Rial to Toman and vice versa?
Since you can find both Farsi and English numbers on the banknotes, the whole thing won’t be a big mess. Whatever price that is in Iranian Rial, just cover or delete one zero of the amount and you will have the price in Toman. For example: If your Taxi driver askes for 150.000 Toman, just quickly add one zero to it on a piece of paper and you have the price in Rial to match what is written on your bank notes. Or if you want to know how much your bank note is in Toman, cover one zero and there it is.
What’s the best currency to take to Iran?
It’s way better and easier to bring USD or EUR to Iran. However, many other foreign currencies are acceptable for exchange in official exchange shops. Australian and Canadian Dollar, Turkish Lira, Pound, Krona and Swiss franc are the most popular ones after U.S. Dollars and Euros.
Where to exchange money in Iran?
IKA (Imam Khomeini International Airport) has some official exchange shops. But like most of the other airports in the world, the rates are just a bit lower than the city. So, exchange as much as you need for the airport taxi to town or the first steps. Even though, all big cities are equally fine for exchange, you might find more official exchange shop in Tehran. We strongly advise to do the exchange at official exchange shops, and not in the black market with individuals. Sometimes their offered rate might seem slightly better but usually you will end up confused or paying more as a hidden commission. If you’re staying at Hi Tehran Hostel II (Enghelab St. Branch), you’re less than 5 min away from the center of Exchange shops where is in Ferdowsi square.
Note: In Hi Tehran Hostels we accept Euros, Dollars and Rials for the payments. For rare occasions, long reservations and multi-day tour inquiries, it’s possible or we will ask to pre-pay us through only European bank accounts to our bank account in Paris.
Do international credit cards work in Iran?
One important thing to remember is, due to the U.S. sanctions over Iran, no credit cards (like Visa, Master, …) can be used in Iran at the moment. So, you need to bring enough cash for the whole length of your Iran trip. Shops, public transportation, accommodations, and restaurants and any other services will only accept cash or Iranian debit cards. If you run out of money, very few places in Tehran will be able to accept international credit cards which for sure will include commission or transfer fees.
Note: If for any reason you had to transfer money through PayPal or your bank account, remember to turn on your VPN and set its setting on an European country. Otherwise, your account might get blocked! If you don’t have any free VPN for Iran, read Here!
What is the Iran currency exchange rate?
There are two main issues regarding exchange rate in Iran. First, the exchange rate is really variable since it’s very dependent on political and governmental news and events. Sometimes you can experience a big change within a day. So, not necessarily the exchange shop or whomever you’re dealing with, is trying to make a benefit. Second, there are two different exchange rates in Iran. The first one is the official rate which you can find on different websites and internet and cause most of the confusions and misunderstandings. This rate is always much lower than the market rate and it’s used only by the government and banks through official trading and price settings. However, this rate has no role in the real market of Iran. In all exchange shops, or other services, the market rate will be considered. For example, in December 2019, the average governmental exchange rate for 1 U.S. Dollar was about 45.000 Rials while the real market rate was about 120.000 Rials!
We suggest to have the most decent exchange rate (buying or selling), compare few exchange shop’s rates and go for the best one. Again, be careful of hidden commissions and if anyone applied it without being clear, simply do the exchange somewhere else and avoid wasting your time arguing!
Iran tourist cards
Recently, the National Bank of Iran, and Saman Bank provide Iran Tourist Debit Cards with the help of some private companies. It has solved the problem of carrying cash all around Iran, up to some point. Yet there are some cons in this system which being time consuming is one of them. These debit cards are issued under a certain expiry date and you can use it to withdraw cash in Rials everywhere from ATMs of all Iranian banks, purchase tickets at museums, or go shopping, and even use it for online shopping services.
There are few ways to get a tourist debit card in Iran. You can get it at IKA Imam Khomeini International Airport right after your arrival in Tehran. Or, you can go to the branches of Saman Bank and Bank Melli Iran and register for one. Both ways are fine yet as we mentioned, time consuming. To make it more convenient, we have contracted with the most trusted, easy to use and fast tourist debit card provider to arrange the process of getting an Iran debit card inside the hostel! All you have to do is to ask us in advance to set it for you. Moreover, we have a bonus deal to have 40% discount with “Hi Tehran Hostel” promotion code for our guests! Please note that Hi Tehran Hostels are not the provider nor benefit in any way. We just feel responsible to provide the best service possible as an added value. For more information, you can contact us by E-mail.
Writer: Golnar ZAMANI
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