Planning a trip to Morocco? Make sure you’re prepared when it comes to money matters with this handy guide. We’ll cover everything you need to know as a visitor, from exchanging currency to costs of living and tips for saving money.
The Moroccan Dirham
The official currency of Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham (MAD). The dirham is controlled by the Central Bank of Morocco and has an exchange rate that fluctuates relative to other major currencies.
Current exchange rate: 1 USD = 9.61 MAD (as of August 2023)
The dirham has been the official currency since 1960 when it replaced the French franc. Morocco has relatively low inflation, around 2-3% annually in recent years.
Moroccan Dirham Denominations and Conversions
The Moroccan dirham (MAD) comes in the following paper banknote denominations:
|Denomination||Color||Approx. Euro Value|
|200 MAD||Same as 20 EUR note||20 EUR|
|100 MAD||Similar to 10 EUR note||10 EUR|
|50 MAD||Green||5 EUR|
|20 MAD||Violet||2 EUR|
Additionally, Moroccan dirham coins come in the following denominations:
|Denomination||Description||Approx. Euro Value|
|10 MAD||Two-toned gold coin||1 EUR|
|5 MAD||Gold coin||0.50 EUR|
|1 MAD||Silver-colored coin||0.10 EUR|
|0.50 MAD||Nickel-colored coin||0.05 EUR|
|0.20 MAD||Bronze-colored coin||0.02 EUR|
Although not an exact conversion, a good rule of thumb is that 10 Moroccan dirhams equals about 1 euro.
Some outdated currencies like francs and reales may still be used colloquially in markets and stores. Common conversions are:
- 1 MAD = 10 francs
- 1 MAD = 2 reales
When exchanging money, use reputable exchange bureaus and banks to get the best official exchange rates. And don’t get confused if you hear dirham amounts referred to in francs or reales!
Can we pay in euros?
While the Moroccan dirham is the official currency, many shops and vendors will accept euros for payment, especially for larger purchases.
If you need to pay a bill but only have euros on hand, don’t fret – just kindly ask the shopkeeper or merchant if they can accept euros. For smaller purchases under 50 MAD or so, they will likely ask you to pay the exact amount in dirhams.
However, for larger ticket items like hotel bills, organized tours, fancy restaurant meals, or shopping sprees, you may be able to pay in euros if you are in a bind. The merchant will likely apply their own exchange rate, which may be a bit higher than the official rate.
So while it’s ideal to pay in local currency, having some euros as backup can be helpful in a pinch. Just make sure to ask politely first, and don’t assume or demand that your euros will be accepted everywhere. With some flexibility and understanding on both sides, paying in euros can tide you over until you can exchange more dirhams.
Exchanging Currency in Morocco
Changing money in Morocco is easy with plentiful exchange options:
- Airports & ports: Exchange desks and kiosks are located in arrival areas, but rates may not be the best.
- Land borders: Money changers at land crossings like Ceuta and Melilla can exchange currency.
- Banks & exchange bureaus: Found everywhere, especially in cities. Offer best rates.
- In a pinch: Ask shops/vendors to exchange small amounts if bureaus are closed.
When you first arrive, just change enough for essentials like taxis or meals for the day.
Pro tip: Skip the airport exchanges and wait to change the bulk of your money at a major bank or reputable bureau in your destination city to get the best exchange rates.
Rates at hotels and ports catering to tourists are usually poor. And triple check the amount of dirhams you receive during any exchange.
Need to exchange currency quickly? In a rush, many shops and merchants can exchange small amounts of euros or dollars as a courtesy, if the official exchanges are closed or far away.
Tipping Etiquette and Bargaining Tips in Morocco
Tipping is customary in Morocco to show appreciation for good service. At restaurants, leave around 10% of the bill. With taxis and other services, tip what you feel is fair based on time and effort.
Bargaining is expected at bazaars, souks, and markets when purchasing souvenirs, handicrafts, antiques, and other tourist items. Vendors may inflate the initial asking prices.
Some tips to bargain well
Morocco is known for its bustling bazaars and markets where bargaining is part of the experience. Use these pro tips to master the art of haggling:
- Research typical prices of souvenirs, leather goods, argan oil, and antiques so you know the true value.
- Start your offer at 50% of the initial asking price and negotiate from there.
- Aim to settle around 30% below the starting price.
- Buy multiple items from the same vendor to get better bulk discounts.
- Remember the 20% sales tax when negotiating the final dirham price.
- Know that grocery and restaurant prices are usually firm – no need to haggle there.
- Don’t get obsessed over bargaining – enjoy it as a cultural experience!
With proper research and tactics, you’ll get the best deals on your Moroccan souvenir shopping and happily boost the local economy! The back-and-forth negotiation is all part of the fun.
Paying with Cards and Cash in Morocco
Paying with credit or debit cards is not as widely accepted in Morocco compared to some countries. Cards can be used at higher-end hotels, nicer restaurants, and major stores or franchises. But many local shops, cafes, transportation, markets, and small hotels operate on a cash-only basis.
If you do use your card in Morocco, be aware that your home bank likely charges foreign transaction fees ranging from 3-5%. And local Moroccan banks may charge an extra 1-2% fee for using a foreign card in their ATMs. These fees really add up.
To avoid excessive fees, consider getting a travel credit card with no foreign transaction charges. Or use a card like Revolut that reimburses ATM fees. This will save you money compared to using your regular bank card.
Here is a quick guide on where you can and can’t pay by card in Morocco:
Where Cards Are Accepted:
- Major hotels, particularly larger chains
- Higher-end restaurants
- Franchise and major retail stores
- Modern grocery stores/supermarkets
Cash Only Places:
- Small local hotels, riads, etc
- Street food and small family restaurants
- Markets and merchant stalls
- Most local shops and cafes
- Taxis, buses, trains
- Small grocers and convenience stores
For daily expenses like meals, taxis, accommodation and shopping, always have some cash (Moroccan dirhams) on hand. But a fee-free card can be good backup for major expenses. With this knowledge, you can better plan your payments!
Withdrawing Cash from ATMs in Morocco
Since many places in Morocco are cash-only, having access to cash is important. You can withdraw Moroccan dirhams from ATMs around the country using debit and credit cards from places like Spain.
ATM limits are typically around 2000-4000 dirhams per transaction, or about €200-400. If you need more, simply conduct multiple transactions. Just be aware of fees:
- Foreign bank fees – Your bank from home may charge ~5% on foreign ATM withdrawals.
- Local bank fees – Moroccan banks can charge ~2% for using their ATM.
- Currency conversion fees – Around 4% extra is added when converting currency.
So on a 1000 dirham (€100) ATM withdrawal, expect to lose ~€11 in various fees. This really adds up!
Watch out for “tourist card” ATMs with outrageous fees. And avoid ATMs at hotels, which also tend to overcharge.
To save money, use a travel card like Revolut or a credit card like N26 that rebates ATM fees. You can withdraw cash without any of those hidden ~11% charges.
Having fee-free access to cash is key in Morocco. A good travel card will pay for itself quickly by avoiding excessive ATM and conversion fees when you need to withdraw dirhams on the go.
Recommended Payment Options for Traveling in Morocco
When visiting Morocco, having the right payment methods can save you money and headaches. Here are some recommended options for cards, cash, and other payment tips:
Travel Credit and Debit Cards
Travel-specific cards allow you to avoid costly fees and get the best exchange rates.
This free, online bank account comes with a Mastercard debit card that offers:
- No monthly or foreign transaction fees
- Real-time currency conversion rates
- Mobile app to manage account
- ATM withdrawals with minimal forex charges
N26 also provides spaces to set aside money for travel.
A multi-currency e-wallet connected to a debit card. Benefits include:
- Currency exchange in-app at interbank rates
- Free overseas spending and ATM withdrawals (up to limits)
- Instant blocking and notifications
- Send/receive foreign currencies with no fees
How Much Cash to Bring
Bring enough dirhams for initial expenses like airport taxis, meals, etc. But don’t carry large cash amounts due to security concerns. Use fee-free cards instead.
Hotels and tours can often be paid by card. Use ATMs to withdraw cash as needed.
Cost of Common Items in Morocco
|Item||Price in Moroccan Dirham (MAD)|
|1.5L Water Bottle||6 MAD|
|Loaf of Bread||1.2 MAD|
|Restaurant Meal (per person)||100 MAD|
|City Taxi Ride||10-20 MAD|
|Long Distance Shared Taxi (per seat)||30 MAD|
|Leather Slippers||70 MAD|
|Small Argan Oil Bottle||40 MAD|
|Leather Handbag||150 MAD|
|Pack of Cigarettes||20-35 MAD|
|Doctor Consultation||200 MAD|
|Mobile SIM Card||30 MAD|
|Mobile Recharge Vouchers||5-100 MAD|
This table shows estimated prices in Moroccan dirhams for common items a tourist may purchase. It provides an idea of costs of things like food, taxis, souvenirs, and other typical expenses while visiting Morocco. Use this for planning out your daily budget!