I've read that it's not possible to pay for stuff by international credit card like debit cards. What do you recommend to do in such a situation? As far as carrying a lot of money is not safe at all.

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    @mouviciel I am Iranian, and neither I nor any of the people that I know are in the habit of carrying large amounts of money! FYI, we use credit cards!
    – B Faley
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 7:33
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    @Meysam - but you are using Iranian cards? as far as I know US card companies like Visa or Master card to not work in Iran. Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 12:59
  • @PeterHahndorf: Yes, that's the problem!
    – Gigili
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 13:02
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    @PeterHahndorf You are right, but my comment was mainly in response to the following comment which was removed by its owner: "All Iranian people carry a lot of money when shopping"
    – B Faley
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 15:17
  • @mouviciel Iraninan credit cards will not work outside Iran (maybe in Syria), and international cards will not work in Iran. Why? See my answer. Until you deal with your government it is unlikely to change.
    – littleadv
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 18:07

3 Answers 3


One option would be to bring cash with you, convert it to Iranian currency and then buy something called "Gift Card" from a bank. You can easily obtain them from most of the well-known banks without having an account. You can use these cards to buy stuff almost anywhere within the country. They are also password protected and only the owner can use them. In case you lose them or get them stolen, you can contact the issuing bank to block the missing card and get another one.
This is just one of the ways that can help you avoid carrying money. There might be other ways too :)

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Update: A new card has recently been introduced called Tourist Card:

Bank Melli, Iran’s first national bank, plans to issue a debit card exclusively for foreign tourists visiting the country.

Issued under the title ‘Tourist Card’, visitors can apply for the charge card at the Bank Melli branch of Imam Khomeini International Airport, said a report in Tehran Times.

With all charges converted and billed in the local currency, the card limit will be set at $5,000 or €5,000.

The tourist card will be valid for the length of stay of the visitors and any remaining money in the card will be reimbursed, the report said.

The card can be used at the issuing bank’s ATM’s across the country as well at points of sale (POS) and online shopping.

The bank plans to issue the cards in more than four Iranian cities, which are yet to be determined, the report said.

And here is the official website of Iran Melli Bank, which has fully introduced this new card:

It is a card in Iranian Rial which is issued for tourists against foreign currencies received from them with designated expiry date and it can be used in whole Iranian banking system.

A Tourist Card is given to clients with exclusive passwords. There are two passwords for each card. First password is to be used when the card is used to buy by POS and the second password is used for internet buying. Both passwords can be changed by the holder of the card.

Specifications of Tourist Card:

  1. It can be used through whole Iranian banking system
  2. Cash can be withdrawn only in BMI ATMs.
  3. Funds can not be transferred to Tourist Card
  4. Cards can be used to buy through internet, their passwords can be changed and funds can be transferred from Tourist Card to other cards.
  5. The remaining cash in Tourist Cards can be converted to foreign currencies and paid to customers.
  6. The expiry date of Tourist Card will be the date when clients’ visas are expired.
  7. The limit of charging these cards in $ 5,000
  8. Customers can be informed about the remaining balance of Tourist Cards through Bank Melli Iran’s website (www.bmi.ir), all ATMs throughout the country and all POS systems.
  9. Customers can take billing statements and be informed about the breakdown of their Tourist Card transactions in BMI ATMs.
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    Is it possible to get the balance back from those? I know in the US these cards are not refundable and come with hefty fees, so if the OP has 200 EUR on a card, but only use 100 EUR - the rest is gone forever (as this is an Iranian card - its unusable anywhere else). What are the rules in Iran in such case?
    – littleadv
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 22:33
  • @littleadv It's always possible to get money from ATM with these cards. So the rest of money can be considered refundable.
    – B Faley
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 22:52
  • Ok, +1, but for the OP: do take the fees and the conversion rates into account. And you'll have to bring the cash with you, in any case (unless Iranian pre-paid cards are sold in Turkey, which I doubt in face of the financial restrictions on Iran).
    – littleadv
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 22:56
  • For this card the bank will likely use the official exchange rates, which are way worse than what you can get on the street. (I think it's a 20-ish percent difference, at least!)
    – Bas
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 12:26
  • @Bas There is no need to do the exchange in the bank
    – B Faley
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 12:49

No Visa, MasterCard, etc do not work in Iran. There is a national debit card system called Shetab. And all the Iranian banks and many credit unions are members of Shetab. So basically if you buy a Shetab card from any bank, you will be good. Bank Pasargad is one of them. And here is a page that shows a bank Pasargad gift card.

However, You cannot buy it online. Once you land in Iran, you may exchange your foreign currency to IRR (Iranian Rial) and buy a gift card either at the airport or ask your hotel reception to help you get one.


With the latest sanctions against Iran (i.e.: SWIFT disconnecting them), cash would be your safest bet.


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