What's the current rate of exchange for BIRR?
Replies: 10 - Last Post: Nov 18, 2012 3:49 AM Last Post By: Mountolive
Nov 5, 2012 6:45 AM
Nov 5, 2012 7:07 AM
1The dollar from the USA is used but neither is the euro nor is the pound sterling. Plan on using US dollars. I am in Ethiopia now and the official exchange rate for one dollar is 18 Birr and for the pound it is 28 Birr. I do not know what it is for the euro.
Traveller's cheques don't appear to be accepted anywhere. Plan on using cash dollars or your bank card to draw money at ATMs (debit card in the UK). Credit cards to buy goods or settle bills in hotels etc appear to be used only in Addis and/or in more upmarket places: most places only accept cash dollars or Birr.
There seems to be a parallel market for US dollars with a slightly higher rate but I have no confirmation of this.
Nov 5, 2012 7:38 AM
2The birr was 18.033 = $1 USD on Friday. It usually changes on Monday and I did not happen to see what the rate was today. Although it always goes up, it usually does not go up that much. The British pound and Euro are usually accepted by most banks, at least in Addis. You should note that all banks give the same exchange rate.
I recommend bringing some USD in $100 denominations and make sure they are new. For most of your expenses, I would bring a Visa debit card as it is accepted by all ATMs. Although they have a decent net work, Dashen Bank is the only bank that accepts Master Card or Mastero. Bank fees are usually 1 1/2% through an ATM or 2 1/2% if the bank runs the card manually.
The Dashen Bank uses the PLUS network for Visa cards and the Cirrus network for Master Cards.
As for the alternative market, the difference is usually low (5% or less) and in my opinion it is not worth the risk or hassle. There is a lot of funny money out there and I personally do not care to let the characters that change my money know how much I have.
Edited by: ethiopiawanderer
Nov 5, 2012 10:05 AM
3Here is the currency converter I use. Very handy and fast. It is based on global currency trading so the rates do not exactly reflect what local banks pay or offer on exchange...... but it is pretty darn close and it converts from any currency on the planet including for gold, silver and bitcoins.
Nov 5, 2012 10:48 AM
I just like to clarify that what I'm looking for is the actual exchange rate given at the local markets, like Lalibela, Axum, Makale etc.
Also the news that USD are changed much easier and better than EUR out of Addis is an important hint, for example!
I'd like to know if others confirm such an info. Thanks again
Nov 5, 2012 4:15 PM
Nov 5, 2012 8:34 PM
6So the difference that is paid out at the local banks and what the currency converter tells you is worth about five cents per hundred US dolllars, Sogril. My apologies for the confusion in noting converter rates are not identical to bank rates......but 5 cents is a pretty darn small number. I hope your budget is not that tight.
I can do better than that though. So here is the daily rates from the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia which has branches across the country and in all major cities. It is acurrate to 4 decimal places......I hope you approve!
Nov 6, 2012 2:49 AM
7thanks Cameroni, I that link is very useful to me.
Maybe in Ethiopia the actual rate the money is exchanged reflects the official change, but in many other countries it works differently... the farer from the capital town, the worse the rate!
Nov 16, 2012 2:43 AM
8I think what people have said is pretty comprehensive. The rate is 18 Birr to the US dollar. You give 1 or 2 Birr to a beggar in the street, so I would not worry about the digits after the decimal point.
I agree that the black market probably is not worth exploring.
In my experience and after 3 weeks in the country, what works is cash US dollars (you can even pay directly in dollars, as I have done for day trips/excursions for instance) and VISA cards to withdraw cash at ATMs at Commercial Bank and/or Dashen Bank.
I would advise against carrying euros and pounds sterling: I reckon you may have problems changing them outside Addis. I cannot see the point. The dollar is the preferred foreign currency here, quite evidently.
In 3 weeks, I have not found a single bank that would change AMEX US dollar traveller's cheques, however. I am still puzzled by earlier posts I have seen on this forum to the effect that the person had changed TCs without hassle 6 or 8 weeks ago.
Nov 16, 2012 9:27 AM
9We had guests this week that were able to change AMEX travelers checks at the Dashen Bank at the Sheraton. However the limit is $500 per week and from what the clerk told me, they may not be doing it much longer.
Also in outlaying towns (Awassa and Sodo) the banks would not take USD older than 2006.
Nov 18, 2012 3:49 AM
10Interesting. On the issue of TCs (AMEX), I tried the Hilton (flat refusal) but not the Sheraton.
On the issue of banknotes, I had clean, crisp 'new' US dollar bills: always better in such countries. It is funny they would be so fussy but understandable -- in inverse proportion, you could say, to the ropey, literally smelly, and tattered nature of the local currency. The 10-Birr notes are the worst. I did not come across one new and clean one in 25 days. :-)
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