Low fees travel card plus a sign-up bonus
Be free to explore Sri Lanka’s breathtaking landscapes and rich history by organising your travel money before getting on the plane. You’re not strapped for options when it comes to accessing your funds overseas, but the right one for you will depend on a number of factors. Use this guide to learn how you can take your money with you on your next holiday in Sri Lanka.
Low fees travel card plus a sign-up bonus
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Great rates abroad
Credit cards are another option to consider when travelling in Sri Lanka. Like all travel money options, it has its benefits and drawbacks. Consider some of the following factors associated with using your credit card overseas:
You can load British Pounds on to a prepaid travel card, which can be transferred to multiple supported currencies. Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks you should consider:
Debit cards can be a good way to access your savings overseas, but there are some drawbacks you need to be aware of. Consider some of the benefits and restrictions below:
It’s prohibited to bring more than a small amount of LKR into and out of Sri Lanka. At some point, you will need to get money changed or make an ATM withdrawal.
Digital banking apps are definitely worth considering. You can use them to manage your travel money anywhere in the world, and many don’t charge any transaction or withdrawal fees.
The official and only currency of Sri Lanka is the rupee (LKR). The Sri Lankan Government has tight control over the national currency and there are strict limits on the amount of rupees you can bring in and out of the country (up to LKR 20,000). You’ll need to change Pounds to LKR or withdraw rupees from an ATM when you arrive.
£8 – £21 per night
|Double room in a nice place|
£25 – £65 per night
|5 star hotel|
£70 and above – per night
Fish Curry and Mixed Rice
£0.70 – £2
|Meals at hotel/restaurant|
£7 – £13
|Meals at top-end places|
£15 and above
£2 per day
|Hire bikes, ride trains and use a car and driver some days|
£14 per day
|Daily use of car and driver|
£35 for a day
Based on the exchange rate of 1 GBP = 276 Sri Lankan Rupee
|Year||Average annual exchange British Pound (GBP) to Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR)|
Are you travelling to Sri Lanka and looking to find the best way to take your travel money? Let’s compare prepaid travel cards, credit cards and debit cards to help you determine which option is right for you.
Most digital banking apps, which are a great option owing to very low transaction and withdrawal fees, come with either a Visa or Mastercard bank card. They work as normal bank accounts do, so the “topping up” process simply consists of transferring money into the account.
|Travel money option||Pros||Considerations|
|Debit cards for travel|
|Prepaid travel money cards|
|Credit cards for travel|
This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.
The Sri Lankan rupee comes in the following denominations. 1, 2, 5, 10, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000. 10 rupees is the lowest denomination banknote.
You should wait until you arrive in Sri Lanka to get the bulk of your money changed. Money exchange offices in Sri Lanka can change British Pounds to rupees. You can bring up to LKR20,000 to Sri Lanka from abroad, which is approximately £75, or you can bring up to the British Pound equivalent of USD$10,000.
LKR is a minor international currency. Exchange offices in the UK charge a higher commission compared to getting your money changed when you arrive in Sri Lanka. Exchange offices at Colombo and Hambantota airports offer rates that compete with what you can get on the street, so don’t be afraid to get your cash changed as soon as you get off the plane. Exchange offices at Colombo airport are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Licensed money changers such as jewellers and designated exchange offices may offer a better rate than banks. The rate may change depending on the denominations you want to change. For example, you may be able to get a better rate exchanging £50 notes compared to multiples of £10.
If you can, avoid changing money at your hotel. Hotels usually offer a worse rate than banks and dedicated money changers, and a commission may also be applied to the transaction.
Street money changers may offer an attractive rate, but there’s a higher chance of being ripped off. These people are practised at sleight of hand and have been known to short-change tourists. It’s better to be safe than sorry and get your money changed at the airport or at a bank. Spend a few extra pounds to ensure you end up ahead.
The other option to get LKR is to withdraw cash from an ATM when you arrive. Cash withdrawals using your credit card (not recommended) or debit card are subject to the Visa or Mastercard foreign exchange rate. The Visa and Mastercard rate is close to the interbank rate. The downside is the charge for using an international ATM. A local ATM operator fee and international ATM fee will apply.
Not all banks accept foreign cards. You can make cash withdrawals using your UK card at these popular Sri Lankan banks:
Make sure you check to see whether the ATM takes your card. The Visa and Mastercard logo should be displayed on the front of the machine.Back to top
There is no single best travel money strategy, as the right one will ultimately depend on where you’re travelling, how you’re spending your money and what you can afford. For example, if you’re going to be making a lot of cash withdrawals, consider a debit card with an ATM alliance or a prepaid card with low withdrawal fees over a credit card.
Given Sri Lanka’s relatively strict limits on the amount of physical cash that can be brought into or taken out of the country, it may make sense to wait until you arrive in the country before trying to get your hands on LKR bank notes.
As LKR is a relatively minor international currency, you’re unlikely to find overly competitive exchange rates if using an exchange office in the UK to get LKR cash. UK-based exchanges are also likely to levy higher commission, when compared to getting your money changed as soon as you arrive in Sri Lanka.
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