Best ways to spend travel money in Tunisia: Debit and prepaid cards

We reveal the best ways to spend on plastic in Tunisia.

The Tunisian dinar is what’s known as a “closed currency”. This means it is a criminal offence to either import or export the currency in or out of Tunisia. As a result, you’ll either need to take pounds sterling with you to exchange when you get there or you’ll need to use a debit, credit or prepaid travel card for your spending.

UK-issued credit and debit cards are accepted in some, but not all, of the larger shops, restaurants and hotels, but there can be problems authorising Mastercard purchases. There are also ATMs in tourist resorts and main towns where you can take out local currency.

Low-cost travel money options for Tunisia

Promoted for cashback

Go to site
Fee free spending & cashback
  • Rewards when you spend
  • Interest when you don't
  • No fees abroad from Chase

Promoted for fee-free spending and savings interest

Go to site
Earn interest on your holiday money with a savings pot
  • Make fee-free cash withdrawals
  • Spend abroad with no fees
  • Split costs with friends in seconds

Promoted for cashback

Go to site
Avoid fees abroad
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Secure iOS & Android App
  • No monthly fees

UK debit cards

Many places will accept debit cards in Tunisia and using your debit card for payments can be quick and convenient. You can also withdraw cash on your card to use in those places that won’t accept card payments.

However, you’ll need to watch out for fees. Debit cards can charge a foreign transaction fee of around 2.75–2.99% whenever you pay for an item. Some also charge a cash withdrawal fee of around 2–2.75% on top. This means they can quickly get expensive which is why it’s best to look for one that won’t charge you these fees.

Pros

  • Convenient to make purchases in shops and restaurants
  • Can withdraw cash at ATMs
  • Safer than carrying around a lot of cash

Cons

  • Not accepted everywhere
  • Foreign usage fees may apply

Prepaid travel cards

A prepaid travel card is another option to consider. Here, you load your card with money before you set off which you can then spend abroad. Because you can only spend what’s on the card, this is a good option for budgeting – you’ll need to reload your card if you need more money.

Unfortunately, you won’t find any cards that let you load Tunisian dinar, so you’ll need to load it with pounds sterling instead. When you spend, your pounds will be converted to dinar at the exchange rate on that day. Prepaid travel card providers use either the interbank exchange rate or Mastercard or Visa’s exchange rate. In some cases, they might apply a fee on top.

Depending on the card you choose, you might get fee-free ATM withdrawals abroad.

Pros

  • Good for budgeting
  • Not connected to your bank account if your card is stolen
  • Some won’t charge foreign usage fees
  • Many don’t require a credit check

Cons

  • Won’t be accepted everywhere, such as for car hire and at petrol stations
  • Fees can apply for topping up your card or being sent a replacement
  • Some ATMs may charge a fee

Credit cards

You could also choose to spend on your credit card while you’re visiting Tunisia. One of the biggest benefits of this is that purchases costing more than £100 and up to £30,000 will be protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

However, the downside is that you might have to pay interest if you don’t pay off your balance in full each month, plus foreign usage fees can be high. Many credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee of between 2.75% and 2.99% and you’ll also be charged a fee on top of this for cash withdrawals.

Fortunately, there are a number of credit cards designed specifically for overseas use that won’t charge you these fees. However, be aware that cash withdrawals are still best avoided as you’ll be charged interest from the moment you get your cash, even if you pay off your balance in full that month, making it expensive.

Pros

  • Widely accepted
  • Section 75 protection
  • Safer than carrying around cash
  • Access to funds up to your credit limit

Cons

  • Foreign usage fees can apply
  • Interest may be charged if you don’t clear your balance
  • Expensive for cash withdrawals

Traveller’s cheques

Traveller’s cheques are accepted in some hotels and retailers in Tunisia, but not all. However, the major drawback with traveller’s cheques is that fees can be high for cashing them in.

Pros

  • Safer than carrying around cash
  • Accepted in some retailers and hotels

Cons

  • Not accepted everywhere
  • Can be costly to cash in

How much dinar do I need to bring to Tunisia?

Although the country still enjoys a reputation among British tourists as a more affordable holiday destination, prices have risen considerably in recent years as Tunisia has grown in popularity. However, it remains affordable in comparison to European countries.

Find out some typical prices in Tunisia

BudgetMid-rangeExpensive
bldg

Hostels

£5–£20 per night

2-star hotel
£40–£80 per night
5-star hotel
£90–£200+ per night
utensilStreet food
£1–£5 per dish
Dinner for 2 at a mid-range restaurant
£15–£20
Dinner for 2 at a 5-star restaurant
£60–£100
cameraVisit the Blue City
for free!
Shopping in Nabeul Markets
Zoo/Safari visit £10
Quad biking £25 per person
Cammel riding £20 per person

*Prices are for example purposes only.

Bottom line

Taking the right type of plastic with you on your travels to Tunisia is important considering you cannot bring Tunisian dinar into the country. However, whether you’d prefer to use a debit card, a credit card or a prepaid card is completely up to you – or perhaps you’d prefer to take a combination. The most important factor is checking how much you’ll be charged for foreign transactions and looking for an option that will keep these fees as low as possible.

Frequently asked questions

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you. Most of the data in Finder's comparison tables has the source: Moneyfacts Group PLC. In other cases, Finder has sourced data directly from providers.

More guides on Finder

Go to site