Arab Emirate Dirham (AED)
The name of the currency in Dubai and in the United Arab Emirates is AED (Arab Emirate Dirham). AED has 6 coins (Fils) and 8 bills.
The exchange rate of the Dirham is tied to the US Dollar and this is 3.67 AED for 1 US Dollar. The fixed rate is due to the trading of oil, otherwise the oil price would fluctuate too much.
Because most other currencies, such as EURO, are not fixedly linked to the Dollar, they go up and down in exchange rate.
There are a total of 6 coins of which only 1 Dirham and sometimes 50 Fils are used.
The currency also has eight bills from 5 to 1,000 Dirhams.
Money and currency in Dubai
What’s the best way to pay in Dubai?
One of the safest and easiest ways to pay in Dubai is with a credit card.
Nowadays you can follow your transactions in an app at most financial institutions. Note that it’s best to do all your payments in AED, this saves you the transaction costs.
Although the safest way to pay with a credit card is, it is also a good idea to have cash with you.
For example, for a taxi ride, in most cases you will have to pay in cash. You can pay electronically in about 40% of the taxis in Dubai.
The emirate is known for always following the latest technologies. That is why it is already possible to pay with your smartphone in an incredible number of places via Apple Pay or other payment services via the smartphone. Note that the card on Apple Pay, for example, supports foreign payments.
If you want to pay with a credit card in Dubai it is important that you pay in Dirham and not in your own currency. In proportion you pay less exchange rates than you pay in your own currency. For each transaction with your credit card it is best to inform the retailer in advance that you want to pay in Dirham (AED).
ATM machines in Dubai
All over the place
In Dubai there are around 1000 ATMs where you can go with all possible credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard, American Express, …
Sometimes it is also possible to use your national bank card to withdraw money. It is best to inquire with your bank before you leave.
A cash machine can be found within almost all public places within walking distance.
Exchange money in Dubai
Electronic payment is of course easy and safe, nevertheless it is always wise to take a reasonable amount of cash with you. If your bank card doesn’t work or you want to give your favorite waiter, housekeeping or taxi driver a nice tip, you will need cash.
The best way to change money in Dubai
The best way to change your own currency to Dirham is in Dubai itself and in most cases not in your own country! Banks and other financial institutions in your own country use an exchange rate that is generally far too expensive!
- A financial institution in Belgium gave us an exchange rate of around 3.70, so if you want to change 500 Euro to Dirham you get 1.850 Dirham. Usually booking fees are added.
- A financial institution (Exchange Al Ansari) in Dubai airport gave us an exchange rate of 4.15, so we got for the same 500 Euro 2.075 Dirham and we had to pay no booking fees!
A difference of 225 Dirham or about 55 Euro more! A nice dinner with 2 at the Burj Khalifa extra! This example was applicable in January 2019.
Banks in Dubai
If you want to exchange cash directly, you can perfectly do that in a bank in Dubai instead of a currency exchange office. They accept all major currencies such as Dollar, Pound, Euro,…
Banks and other public authorities are usually open from Sunday to Thursday and this from 7.30 am to 2.30 pm.
These opening times may vary during Ramadan.
The most famous banks in Dubai.
- Emirates NBD
- First Abu Dhabi Bank
- Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank
- Dubai Islamic Bank
- Noor Bank
- Commercial Bank of Dubai
Money and currency
Conclusion & tips
Finally, we want to list all the important things that have to do with money, currency and paying in Dubai.
- Exchange cash is best done in Dubai at an exchange office (Al Ansari or UAExchange) or an official bank. Changing money in your home country is almost always more expensive.
- If your hotel or stay is not yet charged, you should do this with a credit card or cash in AED. At most hotels you can also pay in Euro, Dollar, Pound,… but then you will have to pay a lot of transaction costs to convert it to the local currency.
- When you pay with a credit card in a shop or restaurant, it’s best to do this in AED. Before you pay with a credit card you tell the seller that you want to pay in AED. This saves you transaction costs because you pay in the local currency. Paying with a credit card in your own currency is more expensive!
- Always make sure you have cash with you. For example, in more than half of the taxis you cannot pay electronically.