Iceland - currency
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Apr 27, 2013 4:07 AM Last Post By: nick2012
Apr 11, 2013 8:14 AM
Iceland - currencyHi all,
Taking my family around Iceland in the summer - whats your view on currency? Do I buy here (the UK) or in Iceland? Is it best to take a Eurocard or US dollar card (or doesn't matter)? We're heading into the Western Fjords and other rural spots staying mostly in hostels.
Would welcome your experiences.
Apr 11, 2013 8:50 AM
Apr 11, 2013 11:18 AM
2Unfortunately the Icelandic Kronur is still on the blacklist of many European banks due to the currency crash of 2008. It is considered an unstable currency and many European banks do not deal in ISK. Banks that do not deal in ISK will not buy or sell ISK and you wouldn't be able to make a bank transfer in ISK either. Not sure how this is in the UK but I have run into this problem recently in Germany and speak from experience. With that in mind, it might be difficult for you to buy ISK in the UK. That being said, as the others have mentioned, there is no reason to take out cash beforehand. You can get cash from an ATM at the airport and nearly all places take credit cards. I like to have some ISK cash in my pocket and usually get this at the airport from the ATM or exchange EUR at the airport bank (no fee) on arrival. There are a few places that are cash only - these include smaller campsites (you may run into some of these in the Westfjords) and accommodation/facilities in mountain huts (highlands and Hornstrandir). I have run into situations (rural areas, Westfjords, Eastfjords) where the card machine was unable to make a connection, and it's always good to have some cash in the pocket for such unexpected situations.
Apr 11, 2013 12:54 PM
3No need to get Kronas in advance and as others say you can pay with a card for just about anything. I don't think there's any disadvantage using a UK card over others.
I kept a chunk of cash on me at all times, about 5-7000 krona from ATMs, just in case. I was glad to have it one night when I arrived at accommodation late at night (the Hali Hotel) and wanted to leave early in the morning. The office was shut when I arrived and the guy who welcomed me couldn't take a card but I was able to pay cash and not have to delay my departure in the morning until the office reopened.
In general I got into the habit of paying for everything with a card but be careful of the small things, sometimes they trigger banks automatic security alerts. This happened to me after I paid for a cup of tea with a card (it was about than £1.50) and my bank suspended the card and left me a message on my UK number. I was using a local SIM in Iceland but could check my voicemail online. I called and they asked me to confirmed the last few items I had charged before releasing the card. In that situation it can be handy to have some cash in your pocket too.
Edited by: MilesMute
Apr 11, 2013 6:52 PM
4In general, you should have no problem using your credit and debit cards throughout Iceland. (Notify your bank of your travel plans before you go to avoid inadvertently tripping their fraud protection. Carrying more than one card is not a bad idea either, just in case one is lost, damaged, or rejected by a fickle computer system.)
As Miles suggests, grab a moderate amount of cash (I usually go with around 10.000kr) when you arrive, as cash is just sometimes more convenient for small transactions, and works in the rare instances when your cards don't. ATMs are readily available at the airport and in town, and the exchange rate you get at the machine is going to be comparable to or better than the rate that you would get walking in your your bank at home (this is true of virtually all currencies). Plus, I get a kick out of having a handful of 500 and 1000kr notes; they're just much bigger numbers than I get to see in my wallet at home.
It doesn't matter what your card's 'home' currency is; virtually all of your transactions will be in ISK (Icelandic krona), so you're always on the hook for the cost of the exchange. (Some tourist-oriented venues will post prices in EUR as well, but even then many actually charge your card in the ISK equivalent.)
Apr 16, 2013 12:22 PM
Apr 27, 2013 4:07 AM
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