Currency in Israel
Getting accustomed to the Israeli currency can take some time. Instead of the usual dollars or Euros, you’ll be using shekels to pay for most of your shopping. So where do you purchase these shekels? If you haven’t converted your money into shekels before you left home, then you can easily convert it at the airport, at a bank, or at any of the hotels in Israel. You’ll be charged a commission to transfer your money into shekels, but there’s real no way of getting around it.
So how do you know how much a shekel is worth? Like for most currencies, exchange rates are listed in the paper on a daily basis. Most hotels in Israel have English newspapers like the Jerusalem Post that list the daily exchange rates for the major currencies like the dollar and Euro. The daily rate does fluctuate, so if you need to transfer money, keep an eye on the rate. It can fluctuate up or down a few percentage points even in a short span of a couple of weeks.
As far as the best place to transfer money, it’s really a matter of deciding between convenience and the best exchange rate. If you’re staying at one of the many hotels in Israel, that’s probably the most convenient place. Hours are usually quite long (not like at the banks) and you don’t have to hassle walking or taking a taxi to the closet bank. However, the commission rate might be a bit higher than a bank. Most hotels in Israel have daily exchange rates posted in the lobby area so you can easily compare rates. You can also receive shekels in return when you make a purchase in the store. Let’s say you want to buy some artwork in a gallery. You can pay with traveler’s checks or dollars or euros and receive change in shekels.
Another option that you have is to purchase or pay for things with your credit card. Almost all places of businesses in Israel, such as restaurants, hotels, shops, and tourist sites, accept foreign credit cards. You’ll be charged the usual 3% fee for foreign transactions but you don’t have to worry about exchanging your money except for those real small purchases. You can also withdraw shekels from your foreign account at most ATMs.
Bottom line: money is money and it’s pretty much accepted everywhere.