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Bring $US or ISK when visiting

Canada
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Bring $US or ISK when visiting

Visiting Iceland soon, are US or Canadian dollars readily accepted in Iceland, or should we just convert beforehand and bring Kronas? Also are US dollars easily exchanged at the banks/hotels in Reykjavik? And are credit cards readily accepted in the smaller stores and restaurants? Thanks.

Reykjavik, Iceland
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1. Re: Bring $US or ISK when visiting

Credit and debit cards are accepted practically everywhere. MasterCard and VISA are the two most widely accepted types. If you are going to be relying on cards then 10 000 ISK in cash should be enough to cover some possible cases where you could not use cards. Check your bank for info on exchange rates and foreign transaction fees.

As for some cash, exchange your dollars for ISK at a bank in Iceland. Usually you will get a better rate that way than if you do it before you arrive. There is a bank in the KEF airport, but you will get an even better rate if you go to some local banks in Reykjavik.

I'd advice you not to use other currencies than ISK in stores, restaurants or any other business place. Even if some of them accept Dollars or Euros, it's just inconvenience for the business and therefore they will most likely give you an exchange rate that may be worse than you'd get in banks or with cards.

Albuquerque, New...
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2. Re: Bring $US or ISK when visiting

We just got back. All of our credit cards charge a 3% foreign transaction fee, so we just paid cash for everything, including hotels. We would get cash at ATMs, which had a small fee. The ATMs at the airports and the BSI bus terminal would let us get 80,000 ISK, while many of the ATMs in town seemed to have a 20,000 or 40,000 ISK limit.

England
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3. Re: Bring $US or ISK when visiting

Most credit cards charge 2.5% - 3% foreign currency conversion fee, however they also use a better commercial exchange rate than can be obtained for cash changed at banks etc. These days the card companies show this fee on the monthly statements. Withdrawing cash from cash machines may well be cheaper especially if the fee is a flat rate, however it does mean carrying large amounts of cash which is never a good idea.

Icelander in...
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for Iceland
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4. Re: Bring $US or ISK when visiting

Why is "carrying large amounts of cash" not a good idea in Iceland ?

Edited: 08 November 2013, 08:12
Durham, United...
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5. Re: Bring $US or ISK when visiting

Because you might lose it? It's easier to cancel a dropped or forgotten credit card than 50,000 in notes.

Canada
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6. Re: Bring $US or ISK when visiting

Thanks all, great advice and discussion, I will try and carry a small amount about 5,000 - 10,000 ISK for quick use (snacks, transport, tips ...) and then get whatever more I need when in Iceland.

I have never seen ISK money, what is the smallest amount paper denomination and what is the most convenient size denomination to get?

Edited: 08 November 2013, 14:47
England
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7. Re: Bring $US or ISK when visiting

Ok Iceland is probably a safer country than many, so being mugged etc is unlikely. Still consider carrying large amount of cash is unwise. Remember, to change back to your home currency any leftover ISK before returning home, unless you are planned to return of course!

Reykjavik, Iceland
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8. Re: Bring $US or ISK when visiting

@mr_cruiser The ISK paper denominations are 500, 1000, 2000, 5000 and 10000. Coins are 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100.

For convenience something like 1x 5000, 4x 1000 and 2x 500 should work fine.

If you have some leftover cash in the end of your trip, keep at least one of every coin as souvenirs from your visit before exchanging it back at a bank :-)

Edited: 08 November 2013, 17:42
Albuquerque, New...
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9. Re: Bring $US or ISK when visiting

My general rule is to never carry more cash than I can afford to lose. But, for short times, when I know I am going to spend it very soon, I might get more from the ATM than usual. So, knowing that I would be paying 25,000 ISK for the guesthouse or buy 58,000 worth of woolen goods, it did not bother me to carry a good bit of cash. I felt quite safe in Iceland. Much of the time we were in rural areas. Ran into one panhandler in Reykjavik. Not like US cities where you can be pestered by panhandlers. I did not see anyone that looked or acted suspicious--again a common sight in US cities.

Adelaide, Australia
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10. Re: Bring $US or ISK when visiting

I have carried large amounts of cash on all my adventures to Iceland. I prefer cash to using C/D D/D cards. Either spend it, or donate any lSK leftovers to ICE-SAR (search and rescue) might help pay for the rescues of tourists who get themselves into trouble.

I was pestered by a couple of kids here in Aus just yesterday, while waiting for a Cab. They had in their hands 2 hamburgers , 2 cakes, and a large bottle of coke each. They asked for $2.00 to catch a bus they had been walking for ages they said. I told them what they could do!