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Arriving in Cairo - questions!

Perth, Australia
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Arriving in Cairo - questions!

Hi all

My husband and I are visiting Egypt in March and have a few questions;

We are aussies so were wondering if we can pay for our visa when we arrive at Cairo airport in AUS $? I have read that most currencies are ok but wanted to double check.

Also can we exchange money at the bank were we get the visa from at the airport? Can AUS $ be exchanged?

I was thinking of asking for a roll of small coins at the bank when we exchange money so we can have change for tips etc - has anyone else done this?

We have never been to a country before where tiping is the custom so please excuse my ignorance but we have arranged a transfer from the airport to our hotel through our tour company. Will it be expected to tip the driver in this instance? If so how much?

Thank you!

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Brisbane, Australia
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1. Re: Arriving in Cairo - questions!

My daughter travels to Egypt regularly. On one trip last year, she attempted to pay for her visa with AUD and they wouldn't accept it. When I went last year, I just paid for my visa with USD.

Where does your flight stop on the way over? Maybe you could pick up some USD from there. GBP or EUR are also accepted.

Edited: 17 February 2013, 04:16
Ulaanbaatar...
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for Cairo
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2. Re: Arriving in Cairo - questions!

Yeah I don't think they will take anything but LE, euros, or USD for the visa.

A 10 LE tip for your driver would be fine.

London, United...
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3. Re: Arriving in Cairo - questions!

As said above, you can also pay for the visa with GBP (UK £ sterling).

Perth, Australia
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4. Re: Arriving in Cairo - questions!

Thank you for your replies. We will bring USD for the visa. Do you think I could still get AUS exchanged at the airport or should I change money before arriving at Cairo?

thanks!

Ulaanbaatar...
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for Cairo
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5. Re: Arriving in Cairo - questions!

You should be able to exchange at the airport, but you can also just withdraw egypitian pounds at an ATM there; good exchange rate, low hassle.

Bolton, United...
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for Nile River Valley
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6. Re: Arriving in Cairo - questions!

Just a quick point to add to modesto111's mention of using ATMs.

You really do need to check how your, Australian. bank handles such transactions, before using these as your main means of exchanging money. This is because, if the banks down under deal with foreign currency withdrawals/card payments in the same manner as UK banks then you could be in for a nasty surprise when you get home and read your next statement.

One thing I love about the Egyptian banks is that they give you a rate of exchange that is within a few piastres of that which is used for inter-bank transactions, whereas UK banks ill use a "tourist rate" that is normally very much in their favour.

For example of Sterling - Egyptian Pounds transactions, if the bank rate is £1 = LE10.50, Egyptian banks will probably give you a rate of about £1 = LE10.48, whilst UK banks will give you a tourist rate of approximately £1 = LE10.35 (this is based on actual rates I've seen offerred over the course of this week). So you're already losing about LE150 for every £10 Sterling you exchange, which is a reasonably useful sum for you to have in local currency.

Now, as modesto111 says, the Egyptian bank's ATM machines will offer pretty much the same rate as you'd get for an over the counter transaction with that bank which, again, is great to see. The problem is that, for a UK bank, the transaction will be charged to your account using a different rate, which is normally a 3 month average of their tourist rates and there will be a transaction fee added on for every withdrawal.

Basically, the UK bank males sure it gets its cut regardless of the fact that your trransaction was with the Egyptian bank. So it's very often the case that you'll get home to find that there's less money in your account than you were expecting (again, I must stress this is no fault of the Egyptian banks involved).

Another big problem with relying on ATM machines is that, due to identity fraud/theft concerns, some banks will automatically block any overseas transactions, unless you call them up and confirm that it is actually you who is looking to make them (this is why itcan be difficult at times to buy airline tickets, online, with an overseas airline).

Finally, there's the issue that, if the ATM machine decides to eat your card, you're going to be somewhat stuck for both a replacement and funds to tide you over until you can sort things out with your bank.

So whilst ATM machines can be a useful backup, I personally wouldn't consider using them as the main means of obtaining spending money when abroad.

Ulaanbaatar...
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7. Re: Arriving in Cairo - questions!

Good points all. I guess it does depend on your bank's policy regarding international withdrawals. If you don't travel much outside of the country, probably worth a phone call ahead of time.

Would point out your math is off though- if you're losing .15 LE per GBP, that's 1.5 for 10, or 15 LE less on a 100 GBP transaction....not very much money at all really, especially keeping in mind that your not going to get the interbank rate at a currency exchange either.

Another thing to keep in mind is the ongoing currency crisis here- I'm not sure about AUD, but it is virtually impossible to exchange egypitan pounds for USD on the way out of the country these days, due to a lack of foreign currency reserves. Probably best to try not to end up with too much LE that need conversion when you leave.

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8. Re: Arriving in Cairo - questions!

I agree with GParryManchester. ATMs in Egypt do indeed offer a good exchange rate, but (with a few exceptions) your bank will charge you a percentage of the transaction for the withdrawal. My bank, for example, charges a 2% transaction fee plus a 2.75% foreign exchange fee.

Take cash, exchange it in Egypt and only use a debit card as a backup. And as already mentioned, inform your bank that you are travelling abroad before you leave.

Bolton, United...
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9. Re: Arriving in Cairo - questions!

Modesto111,

Thanks for correcting the maths; I was juggling several different websites to calculate rough averages as I typed and got the numbers confused.

Actually looking at the rough averages again, I over estimated the UK tourist rates by quite a bit. You're actually more likely to get in the region of £1 = LE9.50 in the UK, whilst Egyptian banks are averaging around £1 = 10.39 today.

Australia
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for Cairo, Egypt, Nile River Valley, Luxor
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10. Re: Arriving in Cairo - questions!

You can change AUD at the airport but make sure the notes are in good condition, no rips or tears..

I really suggest you visit your bank as I got a debit travel card from NAB last time that was inexpensive to use, just loaded here before I travelled and topped up once in Egypt. It had no conversion fees, no limit on transactions and I got good exchange rate in Egypt when I withdrew from ATM's (no Egyptian banks charged me a fee either). I know ANZ and Commonwealth have similar versions.