Currency

Ariary (Ar)

Daily Costs

Budget: Less than €60

  • Basic double (shared facilities) €7-€12
  • Food from hotelys (roadside stalls) for breakfast and lunch; dinner at a restaurant
  • Travel between cities by taxi-brousse; chartered taxi for day trips

Midrange: €60-€150

  • Double room (mostly en suite) €12-25
  • A good meal costs around €10
  • At the upper end, hire a car and driver

Top End: More than €150

  • Accommodation varies wildly: €25 in a guesthouse to €500 in a full-board resort
  • Travel by private 4WD with driver; internal flights to save time

Money

ATMs (Visa and MasterCard) are widely available in large towns and cities. In rural areas, cash rules. Euros are the easiest foreign currency to exchange.

More Information

Madagascar changed its currency from the Malagasy franc (FMG) to the ariary (Ar) in 2005. But despite having had several years to get used to the new currency, many Malagasies still count in FMG (one ariary is worth five FMG), so it is essential you clarify which currency a price is being quoted in, particularly in rural areas.

Inflation is high in Madagascar, and the denominations are struggling to keep up. The biggest bank note currently available is Ar10,000, but with a main course at a restaurant costing Ar10,000 to Ar15,000, many agree it won’t be long until larger denominations are printed.

For travellers it means that changing just €300 will produce a wad some 90 notes thick…

Some hotels (often at the higher end of the range) will accept payments in foreign currency.

ATMs

  • You’ll find ATMs in all major towns and cities.
  • Withdrawals from ATMs are capped at Ar300,000.
  • All ATMs accept Visa.
  • BNI Madagascar and Société Générale (BFV-SG) ATMs also accept MasterCard.

Credit Cards

Visa credit cards are accepted at some upmarket hotels and shops, Air Madagascar and a number of travel agencies.

MasterCard can be used at some ATMs, but only a small number of outfits will accept payments with it.

Some places levy a commission of about 5% to 8% for credit-card payments.

Visa and MasterCard can be used at most banks to obtain cash advances of up to Ar10 million; commission rates go as high as 5%, depending on the bank.

Exchange Rates

AustraliaA$1Ar2500
CanadaC$1Ar2400
Euro zone€1Ar3500
Japan¥100Ar3000
New ZealandNZ$1Ar2300
South AfricaR10Ar2300
UK£1Ar4100
USUS$1Ar3300

For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.

Moneychangers

The main banks:

  • Bank of Africa (BOA)
  • BNI Madagascar
  • Banky Fampandrosoana’ny Varotra-Société Générale (BFV-SG)
  • Banque Malgache de l’Océan Indien (BMOI)

All banks will readily exchange euros; US dollars are generally accepted, too. Other currencies will be harder to exchange outside major cities.

Most banks will refuse €100 or US$100 notes (for fear of counterfeit), so bring small denominations only. The opposite is true on the black market.

Upmarket hotels often have currency-exchange facilities, but check how competitive their rates are.

The bureaux de change at Ivato airport will change Malagasy currency back into euros or dollars, but require a minimum of €50.

Travellers Cheques

All banks in Antananarivo exchange travellers cheques.

Outside of the capital, the BFV-SG is your best bet.

As with cash, prefer euros and stick to small denominations (banks need the approval of their headquarters to exchange denominations of €100 or more).