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Shekels

Gravesend, United...
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Shekels

Am travelling to Israel as part of a tour group in February. Am concerned about advice re currency. Should I take Israeli shekels or dollars/euros? Which is easiest to use, is there a problem with shekels? I would have taken them without a thought as local currency as I would normally when travelling abroad but conflicting advice from travel company and travel books has confused me.

Israel
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1. Re: Shekels

There is no problem with shekels as they are the only official currency in Israel.

We have seen comments regarding some misleading advice re:money - however, the best advice is to wait until you are here to change money. There are currency exchanges at the airport and you can use your bank ATM card in most ATM's here in Israel where you will get a much more favorable rate. Many places will take dollars or Euros but will give you a very unfavorable exchange rate. If you are making any large purchases you can use a credit card.

The best is to wait till you are here and change some money - you will be able to change from pounds to shekels without an intermediate transaction to dollars or Euros.

Exeter, United...
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2. Re: Shekels

Do not buy them in the UK. The exchange rate is poor. Either use the cashpoints in Israel or exchange sterling cash at the many bureau de change in israel.

Thousand Oaks...
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3. Re: Shekels

Sounds like you need a new travel company as they have obviously never visited the country to which they are sending you to and giving you advice for.

Why would they tell you that shekels are not appropriate to use? Which travel book?

Melbourne, Australia
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for Jerusalem
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4. Re: Shekels

Which tour group are you travelling with? If you are travelling with an American Group (as I have) then the recommendation we had was to take $50 US dollars in one dollar notes. This was to cover things like buying water on the bus, which works out a slightly better deal for the tourists who pay in dollars on the bus. Also, there are vendors who try to sell small souvenirs to tourists for a couple of dollars (pashimas, bags with place names on etc). Even though we were coming from Australia it was much more convenient DURING THE TOUR to use US dollars for those small items.

If you are travelling with a UK group then ask the tour leader why you need something other than shekels. Someone not on a group tour should definitely use shekels.

If you are travelling independently of a tour then it is much better to use shekels. Using another currency in the shops could get you a bad rate of exchange,

Israel
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5. Re: Shekels

It's always best to use local currency in a foreign country, Israel is no exception.

Chana

Israel

NYC/Israel
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6. Re: Shekels

Any tour--including obviously the one that Heather refers to, that accepts ONLY dollars for something is NOT looking out for you-but their bottom line. They will take the dollars and hold them, accruing a large enough amount ( possibly over months) to exchange at a better rate --or saving them for THEIR overseas expenses, thus making it that THEY avoid the cost of changing shekels to dollars. Anyone selling souvenirs that will only accept dollars is ripping you off. Plain and simple! It is Israel, use shekels!

Melbourne, Australia
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7. Re: Shekels

I am sorry, but I did not say that the tour only accepted dollars, or that those selling to the tours only accepted dollars.

The tours provide water to the American tour groups in US dollars as a convenience. The price for the water, paid in US dollars actually worked out slightly cheaper than if you were to buy the same size bottle of water in shekels elsewhere (which we did when we travelled independently). If you remember, when I posted this previously one of the tour guides (I think it was Chana) confirmed this stating that for tour-goers to purchase water it worked out a bit cheaper if paid for in US dollars, but slightly more expensive if paid for in euros.

It is much better for the tours to provide water to the tour groups at a competitive rate, and in the most convenient way, rather than have to wait ages at every stop for people to purchase water in shekels. The aim of the tours is to keep people moving from one site to the next in the most effective way.

Where those not connected with the tour company who sold to the groups are concerned it varied as to whether it was a better price or not. Sometimes we found the price was good, sometimes we had to haggle to get an equivalent price, and on the odd occasion we chose to wait until we were not on tour to get a better price.

Edited: 12 January 2014, 11:02
Exeter, United...
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8. Re: Shekels

I have visited Israel countless times over the last thirty years. I have never used $ or £ to buy anything.

I have only needed to use Shekels ( old and new) or a credit card for expensive items when I have wanted to use the insurance as back up.

The only reason anyone providing a service or selling an item would ask or accept dollars is to increase their profit margin.

Although Israel is a special country there is nothing special about transactions there. It has a modern economy and there is no need to depart from the way you do anything in other country in the western world.

Cincinnati, Ohio
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9. Re: Shekels

Exactly. Any time anyone suggests that you pay for something in something other than that sovereign country's currency (in this case shekels), it is for THEIR benefit and profit, not YOURS. Use shekels.

Douglas Duckett

NYC/Israel
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10. Re: Shekels

BTW one way to know you are NOT in a shop that is geared towards tourists is when they REFUSE to accept anything BUT shekels. THere are a few stores like that, here in Netanya!