Iran is known for many beautiful things, but their currency is renowned as the world’s most confusing currency! As per the Currency definition, “a system of money in general use in a particular country.” – Sounds pretty simple. Right?
What could be a puzzling thing about Iran’s money system, you may think- Hold your breath; what you are going to read will surprise you and definitely help you when you travel to Iran – Because I have listed solutions to each of the confusions!
And a bit of homework is worth to savour Persian Hospitality and stunning places!
There are many local customs a traveller in Iran must follow. Following them for a few weeks isn’t like solving a calculus problem. With some research, you can sway like a boss through Iran without getting puzzled by Iran’s currency system.
Welcome to Iran – the land of friendly people, stunning landscapes, kaleidoscopic architecture and the most confusing currency.
- So many Rials in the world
- Dual names of Iran’s Currency
- Locals omitting more zeroes
- Taking USD vs Euros to Iran
- Internet exchange Rate vs Real Iranian Market exchange value
- Useless banking cards vs Must-have Iran’s travel Card
Confusion 1 :
Iran’s currency name is similar to many other Middle Eastern Countries!
Former bills of Iran’s Rial with the pictures of King Shahs of Imperial State of Iran
What is the main currency of Iran?
Have you heard of the Rial? It’s the currency used in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Qatar, and Oman, but don’t be fooled by the name – they may share a word, but that’s where the similarity ends.
Iran’s official currency is the Rial, with the currency code IRR.
Confusion 2 :
Iran’s currency has dual names!
Does Iran have 2 currencies?
Yes! Iran doesn’t print two currencies – But they have two different names! Regarding everyday transactions, you’re more likely to hear Iranians talking about the Toman instead of the Rial. Confused?
What Is the Rial to Toman conversion?
Toman is the Rial with one less zero. So, to convert Rials to Tomans, simply remove the last zero and voila! Easy as pie, or easy as pulling a zero with your finger! But why all this drama – Iran’s currency comes with a lot of zeroes!
To simplify these long digits on paper money, locals use another term, “Toman”, for the same paper currency. 100 Rial=10 Tomans. So removing the last Zero from the currency makes it Toman from Rial.
Common Banknotes in Iran are 10,000 Rials (1000 Toman), 20,000 Rials (2000 Toman), 50,000 Rials (5000 Toman), 100,000 Rials (10.000 Toman), 500,000 Rials (50.000 Toman), and 1.000. 000 Rials (100.000 Toman). The few coins in use include 1.000, 2.000 and 5.000 Rials.
Confusion 3 :
Locals omit more zeroes when they tell you the price!
How do local Iranians use Tomans and Rials?
You may be thinking, what is so difficult about it when someone says 5 Toman, I must give them 50 Rials. But, unfortunately, it isn’t that simple.
On top of using a different name for an official currency, Locals omit all zeros and say 5 Toman. That means 5000 Tomans=50K Rials! That is why it is the most confusing currency in the world.
The cafe and restaurant cards won’t mention if they are mentioning the prices in Rials or Toman. So every time, you must ask the owner or waitperson to confirm if it is Toman and if they have missed out on any Zeroes from Toman – Don’t worry; Iranians are friendly and always help tourists with a smile on their faces!
US Dollars are accepted in most countries for currency exchange. But not in Iran!
What currency should I take to Iran?
Euros are most preferred for currency exchange in Iran. And USD is most disliked! So the preference order to carry currency to Iran goes like – Euro, British Pounds, UAE Dihrams and USD! Euros get better rates than everything else!
The currency exchange rate you see online is very much lower than what you actually get in Iran’s market!
What is the exchange rate of Iran currency?
When we went in January 2020, the exchange rate on the internet was 1EURO= 48900 Rial.
- But at our hostel in Tehran, we got 1EURO=135000 Rial.
- While receiving our Daric pay travel card, we got 1EURO=145000 Rial!
- So never believe in the international exchange rates shown on the internet. Check Iran market value here before exchaning currency
Why Is Iran’s Rial So Weak?
According to the foreign exchange gurus, the Rial’s decline is a result of a few factors, including the unrest in Iran, its growing isolation due to Western sanctions over its human rights track record, and even the use of Iranian-made drones by Russia in Ukraine. Who knew that politics and economics could be such a lethal combo?
The cost of living for tourists is low in Iran generally. For example, a nice long warm jacket cost us 10 Euros (1350000 Rial) in Tehran Bazaar. A similar quality jacket costs me around 35-40 Euros in India or on Amazon
Where can I exchange currency in Iran?
When you look at bank exchange rates online for USD to IRR, you see a 5-digit number. But the value is much higher when you check in local markets and currency exchange places. So go for a reliable local business recommended by previous travellers or hostel/hotel owners.
There are plenty of ATMs nationwide – But you must have the right card to withdraw money from Iran’s ATMs!
Can I use Visa or MasterCard in Iran?
With so many sanctions and international politics, neither your international bank cards work at ATMs, nor any seller accepts your Amex/Visa/ Master cards for payment in Iran.
This leaves you exchanging a big chunk of foreign currency and carrying lots of cash. Since the Iranian Rial’s value is weak, you will get millions of money in your pocket. This makes you feel as if you have a fat purse. But don’t worry, Iran’s very own Debit card can be purchased by tourists, and you can just flash it almost everywhere.
Which Travel Card works in Iran for foreign tourists?
Apply for a Daricpay Travel card, which stops you from carrying a fat purse and swiping this Iran’s own card for all your payments, even at Bazaar’s small shop. With this travel Card, you can draw money from ATMs too. The ATMs work for Iran bank cards perfectly.
Even bazars and petty shops selling smaller things will also accept Iran Travel Cards.
So how to deal with Currency confusion in Iran?
With time, locals must have observed foreign travellers struggling; they now handle it more easily. Whenever a tourist looks puzzled while paying, they take out the currency from their pocket and ask you to pay the same cash.
If they don’t have that particular denomination, they ask you to show your money and take the actual cash. Iranians are honest, so they won’t snatch extra money from that pile of currency you gave him. But it is always better to be careful while doing so.
If they don’t have a currency, they type on the calculators usually – Make sure to ask if it is Toman or Rial.
Before you give your card for swiping, make it clear how much they will swipe. You may often not receive an SMS or update after money is deducted from your travel card. They may not cheat you, but you shouldn’t stand there wondering if he is swiping for 100000 rials (100 Toman)
So did we clear all your confusions regarding Currency of Iran? Let us know in the comment below.