Money & costs
As in France, the unit of currency is the euro (€), which is divided into 100 cents. Euro coins come in denominations of one, two, five, 10, 20 and 50 cents and one and two euros. Banknotes are issued in denominations of five, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros.
Most banks and post offices have an ATM (known as a guichet automatique de banque or gabier) which honours major international credit cards. Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted. They are the easiest way to access funds while in Réunion. If you’re heading off into the Cirques, it’s wise to stock up with euros beforehand. There is only one ATM in Cilaos and one in Salazie.
Credit cards will prove the cheapest and easiest way to pay for major purchases in Réunion. Visa (Carte Bleue) and MasterCard (Eurocard) are the cards most widely accepted by hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, major petrol stations and stores. Credit cards are mandatory if you want to rent a car, as they’ll be used as a form of caution (deposit). Smaller places, however, sometimes refuse cards for small amounts (typically under €16) and it’s rare for chambres d’hôtes and gîtes d’étape to take credit cards.
Changing money in Réunion? Dream on! The number of banks that have foreign-exchange facilities and do change cash has been dramatically reduced since the introduction of the euro. This service tends to be dropped in favour of ATMs. Therefore, consider yourself very lucky if you find a bank that changes foreign currencies on the island.
There are no exchange facilities at either Roland Garros International Airport or the ferry terminal in Le Port, though the airport does at least have an ATM.
As a general strategy, it’s sensible to bring a fair supply of euros with you and to top it up from the ATMs.
Travellers cheques are not widely accepted in Réunion; you’ll find that most banks are reluctant to change them. Stash up on cash and rely on your credit card.