I am traveling to Addis Ababa for just 5 days. From the viewpoint of safety as well as convinience credit cards seem easier.

But just wanted to check how popular is card usage? Can I get by with cards or should I convert to the local currency?

I find a big difference nation to nation in prevailance of card usage.

  • 1
    Only 0.29% of Ethiopians have a credit card. Unless you intend to stay entirely within a 5-star hotel, you will almost certainly need cash. Oct 10, 2022 at 11:25

1 Answer 1


From the UK travel advisory: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/ethiopia/money

Ethiopia is largely a cash based society. Credit cards are accepted at only a very few outlets in Addis Ababa and it is not normally possible to get currency advances against a credit card. International bank and debit cards are accepted at major banks’ ATMs in the capital but there are very limited banking facilities in most other areas. Make sure you have an adequate supply of cash before travelling outside the capital.

If you change foreign currency into Birr, you should ensure that you keep your receipt, as without this you are unlikely to be able to change any left over money back at the end of your trip.

Hope this answers your question. Don't rely on credit card.

  • Thanks! So I suppose my best bet is to get Birr at an ATM at the airport? Oct 10, 2022 at 20:18
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    @RedGrittyBrick Why so? Airport currency exchanges are often a rip off, but I've never heard of an airport ATM giving worse rates. Oct 11, 2022 at 1:16

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