Currency Exchange and Tips to Save Money in Iceland

(Last Updated On: June 20, 2018)

Part 6 of Iceland travel blog series: Currency Exchange and Tips to Save Money in Iceland is a guide which will help you spend your money wisely in Iceland.

Part 1: 18 Breathtaking Photos of Raw Iceland is our compilation of Iceland’s incredible landscape through our eyes and lens. 

Part 2: Land of Fire & Ice! First Impressions on Iceland is all about how charged and motivated to felt to do our small bit and protect planet earth. Everything in Iceland left us awestruck and this article covers some of them in detail.

Part 3: 5 Tips on Planning a Trip to Iceland is guide to begin your travel journey to Iceland. Learn more about the right season to travel, visa, tours, type of cars to rent etc.

Part 4: Itinerary for Winter / Spring Road Trip in Iceland is a detailed guide which will help you plan that epic self drive road trip. Of course, this itinerary can be customized for any season and modified based on your convenience. 

Part 5: Accommodation Guide for Self Drive Road Trip in Iceland will help you choose the right accommodation for you. Read this in combination with part 4 i.e. Itinerary for Winter / Spring Road Trip in Iceland

 

You must have heard it a thousand times over and over again and we wouldn’t mind repeating. Iceland is expensive. We mean, really really expensive! But that shouldn’t stop you from exploring the most gorgeous location on Earth. There are tricks and ways in which you save from spending excessive amount of money! This article is solely dedicated on providing insights regarding the currency exchange and tips to save money in Iceland.

Thingvellier National Park - Currency Exchange and Tips to Save Money in Iceland 2

 

Currency Exchange

Even though Iceland is a part of European Union, they still use their own currency, which is Icelandic Krona (ISK). You could check this site to get an idea about current exchange rates. If you are a first time visitor and are looking for ways to save money on exchange rates, read further where we provide golden tips from a first hand experience.!

Debit/Credit cards

Iceland is a crazy expensive country and you wouldn’t want to lose more on exchange rates. The best thing about Iceland is that almost all shops accept cards and you can use your debit/credit cards almost everywhere. The only thing to be careful about is how much your bank would charge you for swiping your shiny cards at the counter.

Handy Tip: Before you leave, call up your bank and check how much they would charge for using the cards abroad. There can be fees on conversion and also for using it abroad.

Pre-paid currency cards

Once you are in Iceland, assuming you landed at the KEF airport (Reykjavík–Keflavík airport) like most of the people, you can see currency exchange counters and a bank called Arion bank. They provide pre-paid cards but their exchange rates are just terrible. On top of it, they charge for the card (around €12) and also a service charge of €6. So before even you could start spending money, you have already lost €16.! The worst part is that they don’t even tell you about these charges. The card comes with some terrible discounts at some places (like a paltry 3 ISK discount on a litre of fuel) and good discounts at other places (15% off on the popular arctic adventures tours) but most likely you would have already booked your tours, hence you won’t be able to make use of the discount.

Our advice: Do a quick research while you are near the counter and check if the card is really worth it. With your prior knowledge on your bank fees, make some calculations and see if you will save or end up losing more money. Typically credit card companies charge 2% on the converted money. Eg: you will be paying €6 for something that would cost you €300 at a Icelandic shop.

Do I need cash?

Well 99% of the time you don’t. But just to be on the safer side (eg: you lost your credit card while doing something crazy), carry some ISK equivalent to €100 or whichever amount you prefer. Use your debit card at the ATM’s in the airport to get the best exchange rates.

 

Northern Lights - Currency Exchange and Tips to Save Money in Iceland

 

Tips to Save Money in Iceland

Here are some tips based on our experience, which will help you save that unnecessary expenditure while traveling.

It’s all about food

  • Cook your own meal, as that can help you save a lot of food. Just to give an idea, a regular pizza costs 25 euros in Iceland.
  • Look for an accommodation with kitchen facilities. While this might not always be possible, but try to maximize that option. Accommodation with kitchen facility might be a bit more expensive than regular hotel room but you will save a lot on food.
  • Carry ready to eat meals with you. Even the grocery stores are expensive and you can save a lot of time and money by carrying a couple of ready to eat packets.
  • Do most of your grocery shopping in Reykjavik as the stores get pricey later on.

Trip Planning

  • Rent your own car rather than taking tours (weather permitting). Tours in Iceland are expensive, so if you are travelling in a group you will be paying a bomb.
  • You don’t need a 4×4 unless you are planning to drive in extreme winter conditions or in the highlands. Check this article for more recommendations.
  • Read our article on 5 Tips on Planning a Trip to Iceland for more details.

Accommodation

  • If you are travelling in a group, cottages are the best option. A single cottage can sleep around 4-5 people and comes with an inbuilt kitchen. They are really pretty as well for those Instagram photos.
  • Read our article on Accommodation Guide for Self Drive Road Trip in Iceland for more tips.

Others

  • Blue lagoon is expensive, but there are more such hot spring pools you can enjoy like the Secret Lagoon and Mývatn Nature Baths.
  • Do your souvenir shopping only in Reykjavik as the prices are cheaper (even compared to airport).
  • Buy liquor in the duty free shop as soon as you land in Keflavík airport. Liquor is not widely available in Iceland and is definitely more expensive.
  • Carry waterproof pants and hiking shoes with you if you plan to do glacier hike. Hiking shoes are a must and you will be forced to rent them, in case you are not wearing a proper gear.
  • Use the above mentioned tips to exchange your currency and you will definitely save a good few euros.

We hope guide ‘Currency Exchange and Tips to Save Money in Iceland’ would help you better plan your trip to this breathtaking country.!

 

5 thoughts on “Currency Exchange and Tips to Save Money in Iceland

  1. I don’t know how things are in other countries, but the US has several credit cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees. If you can get one of those, you’ll save A LOT of money. A quick search for ‘travel card’ should pull up the more popular choices.

    Also, if you don’t mind holding a [stock] trading account, Charles Schwab has the best debit card I’ve ever seen for travelers. When you’re setting everything up, you’ll have to open a trading account and a checking account. However, the debit card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees or ATM charges for taking out cash. If the local bank charges fees, they’ll even pay those for you. I’m sure they’ve saved me hundreds of dollars in all those countries where cards aren’t accepted for most things.

    Sorry about the US specific comment. It’s what I’m familiar with….

    1. That’s very good to know and thank you for the information! Credit cards are not very popular in Ireland, and there is a transaction fee every time you swipe abroad. I guess, every country has different way of dealing with international transactions. Always a good idea to call and check before making those swipes. 🙂

Leave a Reply