Wednesday, April 24th 2019

Iranian currency, hyperinflation & how to exchange Iranian Rials

Currency exchange is an actual question in Iran as you cannot withdraw money from your Visa or Amex. Although ATMs exists in Iran, they serve only Iranian bank cards. So all foreign travelers face the question of where and how to safely exchange currency into Iranian Rials.

When we crossed the Turkish-Iranian border at Serow instantly we were surrounded by touts offering us to exchange money. Everybody knows they never give good rates and rip you off, but we still had some Turkish money, and anyway we needed the Iranian currency.

We calculated how much Turkish Liras will make in Euros, added 10 British pounds and were ready to make the exchange. Before coming to Iran we checked the exchange rates online:

  • USD = 12 122,8 IRR
  • EUR = 15 613,9 IRR
  • GBP = 19 637,7 IRR

After long discussion in very broken English & a lot of gesticulation the exchange was complete. I fingered through the pack of Rials and realized that we got more money than if the above-mentioned rates were used. About 26 000Rials for GBP, and around 20 000Rials for EUR.

Iranian Rials in hyperinflation

Good, we thought. Generous money exchange touts. Ironically Tourist information office informed us that that there are two exchange rates: official & unofficial. They told us where to go and exchange for “good rates”.

They also warned us that most Iranian people use not thousands of Rials, but Tumans. 1 000 Tumans equals 10 000 Rials. This is very important as all the prices are quoted in Tumans, but the banknotes are in Rials. So you should always ask how much it will be in Tumans and Rials, just to check correctness of prices.

The rate for USD was 25 000IRR, for GBP was about 40 000IRR. On Sunday 30  September we happily exchange 200GBP at this favorable rate. At that day we did not know anything about extremely bad economic conditions and strong inflation.

Today (4 Oct) in the morning i read an article on Zerohedge.com talking about extreme hyperinflation in Iran and the USD reached 35 000IRR. Comments were saying about big forces triggering the hyperinflation by injecting a lot of fake Rials into the Iranian economy, police crackdown on black market currency exchange dealers in the central Tehran on Wed (3 Oct), about hunger riots, etc.

Not a very good for our holidays. On the way to Tehran i was calculating possible outcomes: hunger riots, protests, possible attacks on foreigners, etc. Paranoid, i know. But you never know. Besides we still don’t have a way out. No tickets out of Iran.

After our arrival to Tehran we talked to some people and walked around, and the situation looks as follows:

  • Monday, 1 Oct: USD goes to 40 000IRR; police strongly prohibited to exchange currencies on the black market – Ferdowsi street in Tehran
  • Tuesday, 2 Oct: USD = 35 000; police prohibition
  • Wednesday, 3 Oct: USD = 30 000; the black market dealers had a protest which was locked out by the police and they got a strong warning. Police has not let any foreing reporters into the area. The whole center was locked up and streets were full of riot police in full gear.



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Now USD can be exchanged only at the rate of 30 000IRR. Nobody gives a higher rate though probably the real value is 40 000 or higher. This evening we went to the place where currency dealers operate. Policemen were there urging the touts to disperse.

I have not heard about any hunger riots or protests  so far. I hope the situation will not deteriorate seriously before we leave.

One of these days we will need to exchange more money. We will see how it goes….

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11 Comments on “Iranian currency, hyperinflation & how to exchange Iranian Rials”

  1. anyway in lowest rate Iran is cheap enough for you. dont think exchanging rate

    1. It really depends what you get for what you pay. Food & transport are cheap. Hotels are not that cheap. 30-50USD is not cheap even for some Eastern European countries, besides it is very comparable to Turkey, which is generally more expensive, and often provides better quality. Moreover some people don’t come from rich Western countries & I am a bit surprised by this “anyway-this-all-is-cheap-for-you” attitude. I have heard it not once already.

  2. Bring me back Rial for 1 USD :)

    1. Send me your address by gmail. I will send by mail if we find a post office ;]]

  3. Hi Alex, your explanations are really good. We have been reading so much “rubbish” here that the reality seems completely different. It seems that the gov is really trying to curb the black market but this might be really difficult if everything is priced in Tumans! best

    1. Hi Steph,
      The exchange rate of USD dropped against both Rials and Tumans, just in Rials it is 28 000Rials, and in Tumans, 2 800 Tumans.
      The problem is that the government prohibited to exchange USD for more than 28 000Rials/2 800Tumans. But the inflation is increasing. I have read an article recently that the price of gold is increasing rapidly in Iran. So far we don’t really feel serious increase in prices, but I am afraid it is because government commanded to hold them. At some point all this will fall apart I am afraid.

  4. […] already mentioned in my previous post that Iranian Rial has several exchange rates and that official is almost half of the so called grey […]

  5. Are you still there? I was wondering how is the situation at the moment

    1. Hi Thomas,
      We are leaving tomorrow. Please check my other post with some useful info and updates – http://www.travelphotoreport.com/2012/10/16/where-how-to-exchange-money-in-iran/

      Tomorrow morning we will exchange money for the last time, i will update on the rates.

  6. god! I am a bank teller myself and there are few exchange offices around us , I remember those days , which we thought more tough situation for the rate of 1 $ to 100000 rials at the end of the Iranian year ! what a time you have come to Iran , you have seen many things many others can’t.

    1. Yes, it was really a great experience. I hope to visit again soon!

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