Kenya: Currency

The Kenya currency unit is the shilling (KSH), divided in 100 cents. The Kenyan shilling has been quite stable over the years. One US dollar equals about 65 Kenyan shilling, one Euro is 95 shilling, and 1 British pound is about 125 shilling.



Be aware that many safari tour operators and the more upmarket hotels and resorts will ask you to pay in US dollars or Euros instead of Kenya currency. The Euro, in fact, is quickly replacing the dollar as the standard unit in which prices for tourists are quoted – especially at the coast.

If you have to get your visa on arrival at the airport, you can only pay for this with US dollars or British pounds. You can change money there at the spot, however. Although in Nairobi and Mombasa many major currencies are accepted, the US dollar remains the most accepted foreign currency in Kenya.

ATMs

Almost all Kenyan banks now have ATMs, but their usefulness to international travelers varies as some accept only a limited type of cards. Barclays Bank is the best option, because their ATMs (which cover most Kenyan towns) accept both Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus and Plus bank cards. The ATMs of Kenya Commercial Bank, another major bank, accept only Visa cards. Be aware that sometimes international data networks are down and you cannot use the ATMs to withdraw money from your foreign account. Some ATMs (e.g. at the airport) also give out US dollars, UK pounds or Euros.

Credit Cards

Visa and MasterCard credit cards are widely accepted in Kenya. Other credit cards much less so. However, many shops etc. don’t have automatic dial-up systems for credit card transactions yet. They use manual systems that are more open for fraud. While there are no reports of massive credit card fraud, it may be wise to use your credit card only with more up-market places.

Cash Exchanges For Kenya Currency

Changing cash for Kenya currency is easy if you have US dollars, UK pounds or Euros. The best places to change cash are the foreign exchange or ‘forex’ bureaus found everywhere in the country. They usually don’t charge commission. You can also change cash at the banks, but they do charge commission on top of the exchange rate.

Travellers Cheques

Travellers Cheques are most easy to cash if they are in US dollars, UK pounds or Euros, but high commissions and, with banks, a fee per cheque are common.

In general, you’re best off if you have an internationally accepted bank card, a Visa or MasterCard credit card and some US dollars in cash with you.

Related Pages:

Banks in Kenya
Is Kenya expensive or cheap?

Kenya Visa

Kenya Travel - Practicalities

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