Published on: January 28, 2016
Here are some great tips for managing your money in Moldova. In this post we will cover the Moldovan monetary system, ways of payments and exchanges. Take a look at the following paragraphs and get informed before you are arriving in Chisinau.
The monetary unit of Moldova is the Moldovan “leu”. If you would be to translate “leu” it means lion. So yeah, in Moldova we trade with lions. One leu is measured in 100 bani - the coins of our monetary system. The plural of “leu” is “lei” and since there are very few things you can buy for 1 “leu” you're prone to hear “lei” more often. The currency of banking code is MDL which stands for Moldovan (MD) Leu (L).
You can encounter bills of 1000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 leu in Moldova. Be aware, the 100 and 1 leu bills look very similar and even locals mistakenly pay with 100 bills instead of the 1 bill. You might encounter merchants that will profit from your mistake and keep silent.
The coins are divided in units of 1,5,10,25,50 bani.
You can exchange your money at any bank in the city. Just note that most of them are open between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. There are also numerous private exchange offices that usually do not charge a commission and are open between 10:00 am and 05:00 pm. You can find exchange offices all around the city in places such as malls, hotels, the airport, along the main streets such as (Banulescu Bodoni and Stefan Cel Mare). In general it is not too much of a challenge to find a place to exchange your money.
Another thing to pay attention to when attempting to exchange some cash is the exchange rate. Usually the rates are more or less the same across banks and private exchange offices. But note that during weekend and holidays the exchange rate might be a bit more inconvenient than on working days. The gap is not significant but we advise that you try to plan when and where you exchange your money.
ATM’s are spread across Chisinau but we don’t recommend relying on extracting your cash from them. The banks seem to charge large commissions at ATM’s when extracting the money from abroad. It’s not like you will pay a 50% commission but your are for sure going to be served a commission and a less favorable exchange rate.
Moldova is proceeding slowly to a cashless society, however some sectors are still only accepting cash payments.
You can expect to be able to pay with your credit or debit card in places like malls, large stores, restaurants, some bars.
You should not expect to be able to pay with your credit or debit card in places like a taxi, newsstand, public transport (busses, trolley busses), small cafe’s or bars.
As a general rule we advise that you always ask if cashless transactions are available. This way you will always be on the safe side.
Typically in Moldova you can pay with any Visa, Master or Maestro Card. Also note that it is cheaper to pay with your card rather then pay with cash extracted from an ATM. This is because when you are paying with a card you are paying no commission.
Our banks have developed secured methods for online payment in Moldova. The problem is that not all the web shops accept online payments.
If you do decide to pay online to a company from Moldova make sure to check it the site is using a valid HTTPS encryption.
Great you are all set and can now feel confident about making purchases in Moldova.
Looking for places where to spend your money? Check out our post about places where you can eat in Chisinau.
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