Currency and Payment in Iran

Yasaman Bagherpour

My name is Yasaman, and I'm a travel blogger. I like to write about lesser-known parts of Iran, exciting ways to travel, different museums, historical backgrounds, and the culture of Iranian people. It is not only about where to go but also about why to go there!
Yasaman Bagherpour

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How can a zero change the whole thing! One must live in Iran for a long time to get the skills needed for distinguishing between Rial and Toman. And also to be able to navigate through all the different ways people tend to describe amounts of money. Most websites and banking panels and real-life shopping centers use the Rial currency, while people use Toman currency in their conversations, shopping, or even some sites.

Rial vs. Toman! Which one to use?

Ok, so this one is easier than it sounds. Even though there are two different names for the Iranian currency, it’s not so difficult to distinguish between them. Rial, as seen on banknotes, is the official currency of Iran. Toman, on the other hand, is what people use in their everyday lives. Easy? Sure.

But wait, there’s one small thing: One Toman is equal to 10 Rials. So, for example, you are holding a banknote that says: one hundred thousand Rials: 100 000. Now, if you want to know the same banknote in Toman, you only have to remove one of the zeros. 100 000 Rials = 10 000 Toman. Peasy? Definitely.

But, wait, there’s more. In everyday conversations in Iran, it gets difficult to use all the hundreds and the thousands all the time. So, in the spoken language only (and never in written language) people don’t say the thousand. To get back to our example, 100 000 rial banknote, or the 10 000 tomans, people say 10 Tomans! Hah! From all those big numbers, we got to a simple 10.

Most prices on the menus and items in restaurants, supermarkets, and bazaars are in Toman. So be careful, before paying for something, it is better to ask whether the price is in Toman or Rial.

Iranian Banknote 100000 Rials Iran Currency

MasterCard and Visa Card in Iran

The thing is that tourists can not use their Visa or MasterCard to extract cash from ATMs. Tourists who want to travel to Iran must bring enough money for their entire stay. They can also bring Euros, US dollars and UK pounds, but of course, ordinary stores do not accept them. So, you need to exchange money at official banks or exchange stores. However, another there’s also another way to solve your money issues in Iran. You can get a local bank card that works for the amount of time you will stay in Iran, using your passport and visa. These cards, called Tourist Card, is available at international airports in Iran such as Imam Khomeini. However, exchange stores (called Sarafi in Farsi) are usually found around tourists spots, banks as well as international airports.

 Iran’s Money System

You can use the Euro, Pound or Dollar to pay for significant travel expenses, such as your accommodation fare or a taxi that will take you from the airport to the hotel. But for lesser costs, you need to exchange your money into Iranian currency. Your hotels also might have this an exchange service center. Authentic currency exchanges are also available in all major cities of Iran.

Iran isn’t connected to the world’s money system. So you can’t count on your credit cards and savings accounts. So, there is only one way to bring the money you need. At Iranian international airports, there is a currency exchange facility. Besides, there are currency exchanges in all cities and some hotels for exchanging your currency to Iranian currency. Keep it in mind that foreign tourists can receive credit cards at the airports. The three banks, as Mellat, Melli, and Gardeshgari banks, are responsible for issuing Tourism Credit Cards. These cards are connected to the national banking network of Iran, and you can get cash from an ATM using your credit card. Tourism credit cards are an excellent alternative to having cash money. It is also important to mention that these credit cards are rechargeable.

Iran banknotes

Bargaining in Iran

All food, public transport, groceries, and junk food which have a price tag on them that are fixed. These are non-negotiable, just like everywhere in the world. However, for buying souvenir-type products at the bazaar, for example, there is some room to negotiate. But let us tell you the truth about bargaining in Iran: if you are a shy person and you are not used to this kind of deals, it can be tough for you! Shopkeepers can recognize tourists a mile away, and they try to sell their products a little higher. So, do not trust anybody and buy something at first glance. Visit other stores and ask their prices, then decide from which store you would like to purchase. Comparing rates is always a great way to double-check your deal.

If you can’t come to an agreement with the seller on a price you wanted, walk out of the store. Keep it in your mind that bargaining is no longer a life and death battle. A worthy bargain is a time when both parties are satisfied. If you paid more money than your traveling friends, don’t worry. If you’re pleased, it was a good deal.

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