A great article about money on the islands. You’ll learn not only what currency in Maldives (Maldivian Rufiyaa), but also what money to bring, where to exchange it, and whether cards are accepted. There will be a lot of useful information that will save you time, money, and maybe even nerve cells.

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Currency in Maldives: general information

The main points:

  • The official currency of Maldives is the Maldivian Rufiyaa or simply Rufiyaa.
  • 1 Rufiyaa is equal to 100 Laari (not to be confused with Georgian Lari). 1 Laari is equivalent to Euro cent.
  • Laari coins are practically not in circulation today, and prices are rounded up to one Rufiyaa.
  • Coins available: 1 and 2 Rufiyaa.
  • Banknotes available: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1000 Rufiyaa. However, 1000 Rufiyaa is rare.
  • Rufiyaa is denoted as MVR.

Interesting fact:

The money in Maldives are regularly included in various ratings as the most beautiful money.
what dollars are accepted in the maldives
These are the largest denominations, but small ones are no worse

I won’t reprint the history and financial model of the country as the information is quite dry. Those who are interested can read about it on Wikipedia.

Another interesting fact regarding money not only in the Maldives but also in the entire Asian region, especially in countries with high humidity such as Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Maldives, is that all Maldivian Rufiyaa banknotes are made of plastic. They are impossible to tear or get wet, and to the touch, they feel like thick cellophane.

And yes, for those who did not know, the Maldives is part of Asia. It is also located in the Laccadive Sea, not the Indian Ocean. To learn more about this, read the article “The Maldives on the World Map,” where you will find a lot of interesting information.

What money to bring with you to the Maldives

There is only one answer to this question: you only need to bring US dollars, and it’s better to have cash. You can still exchange euros here, but the exchange rate will be extremely disadvantageous.


Only US dollars are accepted in the Maldives, and you can use them in many places here, but more on that later. No other currencies are needed here.

Here’s what you need to know about dollars in the Maldives:

  • Only new bills are accepted. These are the ones printed after 2009, with a bluish tint. US dollars issued before 2009 may not be accepted, or they may be accepted at a very bad exchange rate.
  • Unlike other countries in the Asian region, where a very low exchange rate is set for small bills, it’s not the case in the Maldives. The exchange rate is the same for $5 and $100 bills.
  • Tip: bring all denominations of US dollars with you, including $1 bills. They are very convenient for paying for small things, and local people often don’t have change. For example, a taxi ride around Malé costs $1-3. You give $5, and they might give you Maldivian rufiyaa in change, if they give any change at all. There are many such moments.
money in maldives
It is interesting to examine each banknote in the Maldives. They feel like they are made of film.

Good to know:

One-dollar banknotes are accepted regardless of the year they were issued, even if they are old, older than 2009. This is an exception only for 1-dollar banknotes. It’s best to bring new bills for all other denominations.

Where to exchange currency in Maldives: the best rate

The Maldives has a relatively strong economy and low inflation. In recent years, inflation has been less than 2% per year. This means that the exchange rate is stable, not volatile, and does not change much.

Currency can be exchanged in many places, but the most common options are:

  • Banks. The most popular bank that is available on almost all local islands is the Bank of Maldives.
  • In your hotel or guesthouse. They will also be happy to exchange currency, just ask.
  • There is exchange also possible in small shops, diving centers, excursion sellers, souvenirs shops and etc on the local islands.

However, it’s easiest to exchange currency in a bank in Malé or in your hotel or guesthouse.

currency in Maldives
Today, such branches of the main bank of the Maldives are being opened on local small islands. Here, tourists can change currency, withdraw Maldivian rufiyaa from a card at an ATM, and local residents can solve their banking issues.

It is important to know:

Carrying cash dollars and exchanging them for Maldivian rufiyaa outside of banks is absolutely safe. The Maldives has zero crime. As the locals say, no one steals, robs or cheats here, and it’s really true. You can leave your belongings on the beach and go snorkeling for three hours, and no one will touch them. Here’s everything you need to know about safety in the Maldives and what to be afraid of.

As of 2024, the official exchange rate is about 17 rufiyaa per $1. Here’s the answer to the question: where is the best place to exchange currency in Maldives?

  • The best exchange rate is always at the banks in Male. Not all tourists stay here, often they don’t have the time and they immediately scatter to the islands. But if you have the time, you can exchange all the necessary amount at once. The average exchange rate in Male is 17-17.5 rufiyaa per dollar.
  • If you exchange money on local islands in guesthouses or in banks (better ask the rate before exchange), the exchange rate is worse. On average, they offer 16-16.5 rufiyaa per 1 dollar. But if you have already left Male, you will not have any other alternative.
  • The worst exchange rate in the country is at the exchange office at the airport. It is located immediately after leaving the airport from the arrivals area on the left side. Here, the exchange rate is 15 rufiyaa per 1 dollar. All about the airport, duty-free, where to find the ferry, and much more.

How to pay on the Maldives: cash or card, rufiyaa or dollars

The country still has a weak development of non-cash payments. ATM in the Maldives are available on all local islands, but not all places accept card payments. Compared to our countries, Maldives is about 15 years behind in this matter.

Let’s start with the question: cash or card?

  • In 90% of cases, your card won’t be accepted,
  • so cash payment is preferable for everyone.

This is due to high bank fees. Keep in mind that when paying by card, an additional 4% may be added to the price and they say – it is a commission. Additionally, it’s always best to have cash with you, as payment terminals are often absent. They’re not available in most small shops and restaurants on local islands. You can’t pay for ferries, excursions, or diving with a card, only cash.

money in maldives
Note the inscription on the door of the souvenir shop. You don’t often see that. They usually don’t accept a card.

We have already established that it’s better to pay with cash everywhere. This is more advantageous for you, you’ll save a lot of money, and locals prefer cash. And now let’s consider what to pay with: rufiyaa or dollars.

I will say right away that it is better to have both dollars and rufiyaa in your wallet. But this applies if you are staying on a local island. If you have arrived at an all-inclusive resort hotel on a resort island, you may not even need to exchange dollars for rufiyaa. You can easily spend your entire vacation without rufiyaa. For excursions, airport transfers, and expenses at your resort, dollars are gladly accepted everywhere.

However, those who are vacationing on a local island predominantly pay with rufiyaa:

  • In small stores, for chips, water, ice cream. Everything about stores, assortment, and business hours is in the article at the link.
  • Prices and bills at most restaurants are in rufiyaa. You can pay in dollars, but the exchange rate will be unfavorable.
  • On the beach, for juices, snacks, and entertainment.
  • Souvenirs are also paid for in rufiyaa.

For prices in the Maldives for everything a tourist needs, read the extensive article.

dollars in maldives
And this is a bill from a local small restaurant on a local island. They don’t accept cards here, but you can pay with dollars and rufiyaa. For convenience, the amount is immediately converted into both currencies. The dollar is an unofficial currency in the Maldives that is almost on par with the rufiyaa.

Here are the places where only dollars are accepted:

  • Payment in guesthouses and hotels. Moreover, there are cases when tourists arrived in Male, exchanged all their dollars for rufiyaa at a good rate, but on a local island, they were not accepted for accommodation and were sent back to exchange them for dollars 🙂
  • Diving, snorkeling, any excursions are only taken in dollars. Rufiyaa can also be accepted, but with a very unhappy face. Learn all about diving in the Maldives and the PADI certificate.
  • Speedboats and private transfers by seaplanes: payment is only accepted in dollars. But, for government ferries, you can pay with rufiyaa without any problems.

ATMs and fees

Today, a large network of ATMs and bank branches construction program was launched on the local islands in the Maldives. Round-the-clock ATMs have been built or are being built on each local island where you can withdraw money from your card.

Even if you arrive for a holiday on a resort island and you don’t have cash, but you need it, there is likely a nearby local island. You can arrange to be taken by boat to an ATM.

maldives euro exchange
For example, on the beach in such a stall, you will never pay with a card for juice or fruit.

What you need to know about ATMs in the Maldives:

  • They operate 24/7.
  • It’s difficult to withdraw dollars from ATMs in the Maldives, as they’re not readily available. Only ATMs in Male may be loaded with dollars.
  • Therefore, most likely, you’ll only be able to withdraw Maldivian rufiyaa.

Good to know:

If you withdraw money from an ATM in the Maldives using a card in your national currency, such as Euros, Canadian dollars, or francs, there’s likely to be a double conversion. First, your currency is converted into dollars, and then from dollars to rufiyaa, which results in significant losses and an unfavorable exchange rate.

Additionally, the bank may charge an additional fee for such a transaction. It’s better to inquire with your bank in advance of your trip whether there are fees for cash withdrawals in the Maldives.

Travel tips

Here are the main tips about currency in Maldives:

  • It’s ideal to bring cash in US dollars.
  • It’s better to have not only hundred-dollar bills, but also smaller denominations.
  • Banknotes should be issued no earlier than 2009. This does not apply to one-dollar bills.
  • The best exchange rate for currency in Maldives is in major banks in Male. The worst is at the airport.
  • Payment by card is accepted in few places. You will most likely need to withdraw money at any ATM on any local island.
  • Currency conversion rates on your card are not favorable.
  • Additional fees up to 4% are possible where card payments are accepted.
  • Remember: the Maldives is absolutely safe, there is no crime or theft in the country. So it is possible and advisable to travel with cash – it is the most profitable option.

In conclusion, the Maldivian rufiyaa is the national currency of Maldives. It is a very beautiful currency, like works of art. It is pleasant to hold them in your hands and study the pictures of the life of the locals. The Maldivian rufiyaa is a relatively stable currency, and its exchange rate has remained almost unchanged over the past few years.

Wishing you a favorable exchange rate and low banking fees!

If you enjoyed the article and the content in this guide, you can buy me a coffee ^_^

Resources to help you plan your dream trip to the Maldives

  • Flight tickets and the best deals
  • Tour packages (from budget to luxury): Expedia
  • Hotels and guesthouses on any island:
    • Hotellook compares prices among a dozen other services and platforms and offers to choose the best one.
    • Booking – the most popular service for booking accommodation.
    • Agoda – the main competitor of Booking.
  • 12go is the largest Asian transfer service. It gathers all Maldivian carriers, even the small ones that operate between local islands.
  • Tours and excursions: Viator – a limited selection of excursions, but convenient and reliable.
  • Comprehensive insurance: EKTA
  • eSIM at the same price as in telecom office in Male.