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I will need to travel to Ethiopia. I was wondering where I can find the best rates. Should I take Euros/Dolars and exchange there? Should I exchange before departure? Where can I get the best exchange rates? Is it possible to get money in ATM's?

  • Can you clarify what about this situation makes it different from the many other "where should I change my money" questions we have on the site? – Gagravarr Oct 31 '14 at 18:23
  • @Gagravarr each country is a bit different from other. Relating ATMºs some you can use VISA, some Maestro, etc. Some countrys have many exchange points leading to low exchange rates, others not. Some country it's best to exchange money beforedeparture, others in the country itself. Some country just using ATM's might be cheaper than exchange in an exchange point. – nsn Oct 31 '14 at 21:16
  • Almost everywhere with ATMs and non currency controls, your cheapest way is (as detailed in the other questions) to get a no-fx-fee card, and withdraw money using it. – Gagravarr Nov 2 '14 at 14:22
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Well the best rate is on the black market, which does exist. However, this is illegal. Your best bet is a bank, and all banks in Ehiopia have the same rates.

From Wikitravel:

Any commercial bank in Ethiopia can change cash. The rates are the same everywhere. There are dozens of commercial banks in Addis, including in the Sheraton and Hilton hotels, and in the corner of the baggage claim hall at the airport. Most cities and towns that tourists visit will have at least one commercial bank, except for villages in the Omo valley. US dollars, euros, or British pounds are the best currencies to carry.

It is illegal to change money on the black market and the rates aren't much better than what you can get from the banks.

The Lonely Planet has a good article on money costs in Ethiopia.

According to the article, for ATMs:

Bigger branches of the Dashen Bank in Addis Ababa, Bahir Dar, Gonder and Mekele now have ATMs that accept international visa cards. The service is likely to expand to regional cities and even to other banks quite quickly. Note that Mastercard, Solo, Cirrus or Plus cards do not work in any ATM.

USD or Euros?

As with many African countries the US dollar is the preferred foreign currency in Ethiopia and although the euro is growing in popularity not all banks will accept it; therefore you should still pack a wedge of greenbacks.

Personally I almost never get cash in advance, except when I know it's going to be tricky in the country (eg Japan, before 7-11 installed ubiquitous ATMs there that accepted foreign cards).

  • Thanks Mark. But I was also wondering about exchange rates abroad vs in Ethiopia. Do you have any information on this? – nsn Nov 6 '14 at 12:42
  • Sorry was still researching. Have updated with more on ATMs and exchanging USD. – Mark Mayo Nov 6 '14 at 12:50
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    I find that in general you pay a premium on cash you buy in your home country, vs on the ground where it's plentiful and your USD are valuable. Not always the case, but generally, yeah. – Mark Mayo Nov 6 '14 at 12:51

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