Money, ATM, Credit Card & Banking
Currency in Sri Lanka:
The Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR or Rs) is a floating currency, which means the exchange rate is determined by market forces. However, the Sri Lankan authorities sometimes intervene in order to keep the exchange rate from fluctuating too much.
One Rupee (Rs1) is made up of 100 cents. There are a total of six coins and eight banknotes currently in circulation. The coins are: 25 cents, 50 cents, Rs1, Rs2, Rs5 and Rs10. The notes are: Rs10, Rs20, Rs50, Rs100, Rs500, Rs1000, Rs2000 and Rs5000.
Exchanging currency in Sri Lanka:
While all major credit cards are accepted throughout Sri Lanka, you will need cash for some of the smaller souvenir shops and grocery stores.
Airport currency exchange kiosks, exchange bureaus, banks and many hotels offer currency exchange services or you can make an ATM withdrawal (if you need to exchange Dream Lanka Tour operator can recommend you some currency exchange locations). While all major credit cards are accepted throughout Sri Lanka, you will need cash for some of the smaller souvenir shops and grocery stores.
Banks and exchange bureaus accept most major currencies, as long as the notes are crisp and clean. If your bills are torn or damaged, they may be refused.
Using travelers’ cheques (check) in Sri Lanka:
Travelers’ cheques (check) rarely has attractive rates, and cashing them in Sri Lanka can be a challenge. Many banks have rather short opening hours – usually Mondays to Fridays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm – and most don’t accept them.
For these reasons, travelers’ cheques are best avoided. You’re often much better off exchanging cash or using an ATM.
Using credit and debit cards in Sri Lanka:
Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in Sri Lanka, even in smaller towns. Visa, Amex and MasterCard are the most commonly accepted cards. it’s still a good idea to carry some cash with you just in case.
Remember to let your bank know the dates when you’ll be abroad. If you don’t, it might think your Sri Lankan transactions are fraudulent, which may result in your card being frozen for security reasons.
ATMs in Sri Lanka:
ATMs are common in Sri Lanka, and most of them work with Visa (Plus), MasterCard (Cirrus and Maestro) and even AmEx. You can find the closest ATM by using these handy online ATM locators:
While using ATMs is the easiest and most convenient way to get the best exchange rate possible, you do need to watch out for fees. ATM operators in Sri Lanka charge a fee for every transaction. This is usually between Rs200 and Rs300. Your home bank probably charges fees too. You can usually expect to be charged an ATM access fee and a foreign exchange transaction fee.
Sri Lankan ATMs also have per transaction limits. The limit is usually between Rs40,000 and Rs60,000, depending on the bank. However, do keep in mind that your bank back home may also have per transaction and daily withdrawal limits.
Banks in Sri Lanka:
Sri Lanka’s banking system is modern and easily accessible. There are more than 25 banks operating in the country. These include well-known international banks such as HSBC and Standard Chartered. It’s worth checking with your bank whether it has a partnership with a bank in Sri Lanka. If it does, you might be able to use the partner bank’s ATMs free of charge or at a reduced cost.