For centuries Morocco has maintained an image as an exotic travel destination. In modern times that image has been enhanced and reinforced by movies such as Casablanca in the early 1940s and again in the 1970s when Crosby, Stills and Nash recorded Marrakesh Express which prompted thousands of young people to visit the country.
Tourism accounts for a major portion of the Moroccan GDP. The government is firmly committed to making the country inviting to tourists with a goal of making the country one of the world’s top 20 tourist destinations by 2020.
Morocco has a lot to offer to tourists. The country’s coastline, culture and history all combine for an exotic and inexpensive holiday. However a trip to Morocco requires a bit of planning and some knowledge about the currency of Morocco.
Currency in Morocco
The official currency of Morocco is the dirham (MAD). Currently 100 MAD is worth about 8 British pounds or 9 euros.
MAD is a non-convertible or closed currency, meaning that it is only traded within Morocco, although you will find some travel agencies and major airports that sometimes have a small amount on hand.
Cash is the preferred method of payment in Morocco and it is advisable to have cash on hand at all times. Cash can be exchanges at kiosks located at the airport and throughout the major cities, at hotels and banks. Money exchanges should only be made at official exchange bureaus, banks, or hotels. It should be noted that it is virtually impossible to exchange Scottish, Gibraltar or Northern Irish Sterling, Australian and New Zealand notes and Singapore Dollars. All notes need to be in crisp clean condition. Exchange rates can vary greatly so it is advisable to look for the best rates. Currency exchanges in the smaller towns and villages may have limited amounts of currency on hand, making it difficult to exchange large sums. Some shops will accept euros in payment and typically offer a decent exchange rate.
When exchanging money, it is advisable to keep the receipt. The best rule of thumb is to spend all of the MAD you have before leaving to avoid paying another exchange fee. If you find yourself at the airport with some notes, the exchange rate at the major airports are not the worst you will encounter.
ATMs are plentiful in Morocco especially in the major tourist cities. They are less common in some of the smaller areas. However even with plenty of machines available it is best to not wait until you are out of cash before using one. On weekends it is common for ATMs to run out of cash and many machines will work sporadically.
Also, ATMs usually dispense only 100 and 200 MAD notes and finding change for small purchases can be difficult.
It should also be noted that may Moroccan ATMs will only accept four-digit PINs.
Credit and debit Cards
Using a credit card or debit card is generally not a problem at upscale restaurants, hotels and some shops, however many shops charge a fee to cover the processing of the transaction. Visa and MasterCard are the most accepted cards. Using an American Express card can prove to be frustrating.
Many travellers elect to purchase a prepaid card prior to their trip for security and ease of use.
Traveller’s cheques for all intents and purposes are not accepted in Morocco.
This TransferGo Blog is another in our series on currencies in other countries. Previous articles include look at Sweden, Budapest, Malta, Vietnam and Denmark. The TransferGo Blog also features guides for travel, finding work, regional restaurants and practical information for moving to a new city.