A Smart Traveller's Guide to Currency in Malta
Though it’s one of the smallest countries in the world, the Republic of Malta is a star tourist destination. You’re going to have an incredible time, thanks to the island country’s warm climate, ancient temples, and crystalline waters perfect for snorkelling.
You’ll get even more out of your holiday with careful budgeting. This guide will give you a complete overview of the money situation in Malta, including preferred payment methods and the best currency exchange options for value. You’ll learn:
- The official currency of Malta
- The pros and cons of using a bank card in Malta
- What the Maltese Euro looks like
- The average costs of things in Malta
- How the euro converts
- What to do with leftover euros
- How to exchange the currency in Malta
- Some hot tips to help you save money
- How to buy Maltese currency before you leave
What Currency is Used in Malta
Up until 2008, Malta used the Maltese lira as its official currency. This was replaced with the euro – the European Union monetary unit – on 1 January 2008.
Malta joins 18 other EU members that have adopted the euro as legal tender, making up an economic region called the eurozone. The euro is represented by the currency code EUR and the symbol €.
Get Acquainted with the Maltese Euro
Euro banknotes and coins can be used throughout the eurozone, regardless of their origins. This is worth noting because every country mints its own coins, which feature a national design on one side.
Euro coins come in eight denominations of one cent, two cents, five cents, ten cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, €1, and €2.
On one side of the coin, you’ll find the denomination value and a map of the European Union. This is the standard side used across the eurozone.
But on Maltese euro coins, the reverse side with the national design features three different designs, with a megalithic temple on the three lowest denominations, the George Cross on the €1 and €2 coins, and the Malta Coat of Arms on the rest.
The Central Bank of Malta is responsible for issuing the euro in Malta and often brings out gold and silver commemorative coins, a practice which preceded the country’s adoption of the euro.
These commemorative coins range in value from €10 to €50 but are not legal tender in the eurozone.
Euro banknotes are easier to handle as their design is the same across the eurozone. Banknotes come in denominations of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, and €500.
While euro bills up to €50 are commonly accepted, you may have trouble using higher denominations in some businesses.
Using a Currency Converter
The euro’s value is impacted by a host of different factors, from supply and demand of the currency to economic and political events both regionally and globally.
Our foreign currency converter below will show you the mid-market exchange rate, which is the ‘truest’ rate you’ll find (the one shown on Google and XE) - the midway point between the buy and sell rate.
Use this tool to get a real-time rate of EUR to AUD and find out how much it will cost you to buy euros with S Money.
How to Exchange Currency in Malta
Large hotels and even tourist attractions in Malta will accept payments in currencies other than the euro. Just beware, you might not receive change and the exchange rates will be poor.
If you want to save money, it’s probably better to change your money into the local currency on arrival. You’ll have three main options.
Maltese Bank ATMs
For a small country, there are plenty of ATMs in Malta. In fact Malta’s Bank of Valletta even provides a few ‘drive through’ ATMs.
Just remember you’ll usually be charged by both the ATM provider AND your home bank for withdrawing cash overseas.
Using an ATM, you may be given the choice of being charged in your home currency rather than the local currency. Always choose the local currency as the alternative typically results in worse exchange rates.
Currency Exchange Outlets
As with any country, avoid exchanging your cash in airports and hotels. They rarely offer competitive rates and may have high fees.
Instead, exchange bureaus, post offices, and banks in the centre of town provide fairer deals. Keep in mind that offices which advertise ‘no fees’ or ‘zero commissions’ will most likely make up the difference in poor exchange rates.
Not all offices are able to exchange currencies like AUD – United Kingdom pounds (GBP) and United States dollars (USD) are the most common exchange currencies. And most exchange bureaus are fussy about ripped or marked bills so be sure to have notes in perfect condition to exchange.
Once a godsend for frequent travellers, travellers cheques are quickly becoming obsolete. They can be a hassle to exchange – in Malta, only a few exchange services accept them.
Not only that, they’re typically costly to exchange, with poor rates and high fees. ATM withdrawals and cash currency exchanges are better options.
Buying Maltese Currency Before You Go
If you’re looking for value, add ‘buy currency’ to your travel planning list and secure your euros before you leave home. This also frees up your time in Malta to explore.
There are three ways to buy euros from home:
- Buying euros online to be delivered or for you to pick up in-store.
- Swapping AUD for EUR at a currency exchange store.
- Buying euros at the airport.
Since Australian airport exchange bureaus are among the most expensive in the world, it’s not a good idea to leave your currency exchange until the last minute.
Instead, get the most value by jumping online. Online currency exchange retailers like S Money can offer the real mid-market exchange rates you see on Google or XE.
If you still prefer to exchange currency at a bricks-and-mortar bureau, head to one in the CBD as suburban outlets don’t usually offer the best deals.
Using Your Bank Card in Malta
These days, everybody travels with a bank card of some sort – but the types of bank cards and the different banks often take drastically different approaches to their fees and charges.
Also remember: in Malta, you’ll need a card with a chip and four-digit PIN for a hassle-free experience.
Debit cards are common across Malta. Just beware, your home bank may impose high rates and fees if you use your card overseas. These fees might cover ATM withdrawals, overseas transactions, and currency conversions.
Some cards that offer more competitive rates and lower (or even no) fees include:
You’ll have no problem using credit cards in Malta, with most major cards widely accepted at the most touristy destinations.
Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted but some retailers refuse American Express (Amex) to avoid the high fees Amex imposes on them. Discover cards are less accepted.
Beware the fees you may incur by using your credit card overseas. These could include cash advance fees for ATM withdrawals, international transaction fees, and overseas ATM withdrawal charges.
Our recommendation is the 28 Degrees credit card option, which offers lower fees and charges than most.
Prepaid Travel Cards
Prepaid travel cards work by letting you load up in the currency of your choice and lock in the exchange rate.
Though you avoid some fees for spending in a foreign currency, you might end up squandering those savings on other charges, such as reload fees and inactivity fees. Travel cards also usually apply ATM withdrawal fees.
Not only this, it can often take days for your currency to actually load onto your card, leaving you potentially cash-strapped.
If you still like the idea of locking in the exchange rate, both the Revolut and TransferWise debit cards come with currency loading options.
The Average Cost to Travel Around Malta
How much you spend in Malta really depends on the type of holiday you’re after but budgeting always helps you plan the trip – and order the right amount of currency – before you go.
Here are some of the average costs you’ll find in Malta:
A double room in a mid-range hotel
A restaurant dinner
€3 for a return trip
Harbour ferry journey
€5 – 10
Museum entry ticket
Leftover Euros at the End of Your Trip? What to Do with That Unused Cash
It’s annoying returning from a trip with a wad of foreign cash but there are plenty of ways to dispose of these unwanted coins and notes:
- Your airline might distribute envelopes for currency collection to donate to charities (check out Qantas’s Change for Good program with UNICEF).
- Australian international airports often have collection boxes for unwanted currency, which is donated to charity.
- Drop off your currency at any branch of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which then gives every cent to UNICEF.
- Change your Maltese currency either at the airport or, better yet, with a money changer in the city.
- Why not hold onto those euros for a friend just heading off? It’ll be a lovely surprise and going away gift for them!
- Keep your money for later trips to Europe. The euro is the official legal currency of 19 eurozone countries and accepted by many more.
7 Travel Money Tips for Trips to Malta
Many tourists waste money through not finding the best ways to exchange their currency.
To help you avoid this quandary, here are a few practical tips to help you get the most bang for your … euro:
- Avoid the airports! Currency exchange bureaus at the airport charge epic fees. If you like a good deal – or even just a reasonable one – avoid these at all costs.
- Only carry what you need – It can be expensive to change euros back into AUDs so only take what you think you’ll spend. Not only this – nobody likes to tuck wads of notes into their socks and toiletries for safekeeping on longer journeys.
- Ask for a mix of denominations – Make it easy on yourself and the vendors by getting a mix of smaller notes.
- Check your exchange rate – Google and XE.com are the standard market exchange rate but you’ll notice how wildly bank and currency exchanges can vary their rates. Try to get as close to the market rate as possible.
- Look out for hidden fees – The bane of our (financial) existence, hidden fees will often make a huge difference to the cost of your holiday. Be particularly wary of hidden bank fees for overseas card usage.
- The right card makes all the difference – Having a card is convenient but it can take a hit to the bank account if you have the wrong card. Research and arm yourself with the best card for travel for big savings.
- Mix it up! Many travellers only use their credit card while some only think about cash. But the best option depends on your situation. Save the card for huge purchases such as hotels and car hire and reserve your cash for smaller wins – transport, attractions, or meals out.
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