Money & costs
Jordan is not the cheapest country in the area to travel around, but it is possible to get by on a tight budget and, if you spend wisely, good value can be found all over the country.
The most basic accommodation costs from JD2 for a bed in a very basic shared room or on the roof, but most decent budget places charge about JD5/8/11 for a single/double/triple. A good midrange single/double costs from JD12/20 up to JD25/35, while top-end doubles start from JD65.
Street snacks like a felafel or shwarma sandwich are cheap and you can get a decent budget meal for JD1 to JD3. In any midrange restaurant, expect to pay JD1 for a starter and from JD1.500 to JD2.500 for most main courses. If you're splashing out at one of Amman's better restaurants, don't expect too much change back from JD15 per person, and you'll pay more if you have a bottle of wine.
Public transport is cheap - less than 500 fils per hour of travel in a public bus or minibus, and about JD1 per hour in a more comfortable, long-distance private bus.
One of the biggest sightseeing expenses in Jordan is the entrance fee to Petra (up to JD31 for three days, depending on the season), but it's so worth it! Entry to other popular sights such as Jerash costs JD5 but most places are free or cost just a dinar or two.
If you stay in a shared room or sleep on the roof at the cheapest possible hotel, eat nothing but felafel and shwarma and use public transport and/or hitch exclusively, it's possible to get by on about JD8 per day, though JD10 is more realistic. If you add the cost of an occasional chartered taxi, decent food and the entrance fee to Petra, the cost per day for a budget-minded traveller is about JD15. For JD30, you could live comfortably.
Tips of 10% are generally expected in better restaurants. Elsewhere, rounding up the bill to the nearest 250 fils or with loose change is appreciated by underpaid staff, including taxi drivers. Hotels and restaurants in the midrange and, especially, top-end categories generally add on an automatic 10% service charge.
The currency in Jordan is the dinar (JD) - it's known as the jay-dee among hip young locals - which is made up of 1000 fils. You will sometimes hear piastre or qirsh, which are both 10 fils (10 qirsh equals 100 fils). Often when a price is quoted the unit will be omitted, so if you're told that something is 25, it's a matter of working out whether it's 25 fils, 25 piastre or 25 dinars! Although it sounds confusing, most Jordanians wouldn't dream of ripping off a foreigner.
Coins are 10, 25, 50, 100, 250 and 500 fils, and one dinar. Notes come in denominations of JD1, 5, 10, 20 and 50. Try to change larger notes as often as possible at larger restaurants and when paying your hotel bill.
Changing money is very easy in Jordan, and most major currencies are accepted in cash and travellers cheques. US dollars are the most accepted, followed by UK pounds and euros; you'll get nowhere with Australian or New Zealand dollars.
There are no restrictions on bringing dinars into Jordan. It's possible to change dinars back into some foreign currencies in Jordan, but you'll need to show receipts to prove that you changed your currency into dinars at a bank in Jordan.
Syrian, Lebanese, Egyptian, Israeli and Iraqi currency can all be changed in Amman, usually at reasonable rates, though you may have to shop around. Egyptian and Israeli currency are also easily changed in Aqaba. It's a good idea to talk to travellers arriving from across the border you're about to cross; you can find out the in-country rates, so you know how much to change.
Banks seem to offer slightly better rates than moneychangers for cash, but the difference is not worth worrying about unless you're going to change a huge amount. Most large hotels will change money (sometimes for guests only) but rates are always lower than those offered by the banks and moneychangers. There are small branches of major banks at the borders and at the airports.
Some of the banks are fussy about the older US dollar notes, and possibly may not even accept them.
It is possible to survive in Jordan almost entirely on cash advances, and ATMs abound in all but the smaller towns. This is certainly the easiest way to travel if you remember your PIN.
There are no local charges on credit card cash advances but the maximum daily withdrawal amount is around JD500, depending on your particular card. All banks have large signs (in English) outside indicating which credit cards they accept.
Visa is the most widely accepted card for cash advances and using ATMs, followed by MasterCard. Other cards, such as Cirrus and Plus, are also accepted by many ATMs (eg Jordan National Bank and HSBC).
American Express (06 5607014)
Diners Club (06 5675850)
MasterCard (06 4655863).
Visa (06 5680554)
Most major credit cards are accepted at top-end hotels and restaurants, travel agencies, larger souvenir shops and bookshops. However, always be sure to ask if any commission is being added on top of your purchase price. This can sometimes be as much as 5%; if so, it may be better to get a cash advance and pay with the paper stuff.
Some major banks (such as the Arab Bank and Jordan National Bank) can arrange the international transfer of money. The Cairo-Amman Bank is part of the international service offered by Western Union (www.westernunion.com). MoneyGram (www.moneygram.com) has agreements with several banks. Fees are high with both, so obtaining a cash advance with a credit card might be a better bet.
Generally, moneychangers offer slightly lower rates than banks for cash. In theory, they do not charge commission on travellers cheques but in practice many do, so shop around. Moneychanger offices are smaller and easier to use than banks, and are generally open daily until around 9pm. Always check the rates at banks or in the English-language newspapers before changing money.
Most flavours of travellers cheques are accepted, with the most recognised being American Express (Amex). Always check the commission before changing.