Currency in the UAE

A Travel Money Guide to the UAE

sunrise on the beach at Perian Gulf

An exciting destination, the United Arab Emirates, or UAE, encompasses seven countries, each with their own spectacular landscapes, attractions and places to visit. From the futuristic metropolis of Dubai, to the beautiful capital of Abu Dhabi and the culture of Fujairah, there is plenty of things to see and do. Let's not forget the year-round sunshine and spectacular sceneries that keep visitors coming back year after year!

Before you go, check out our handy and comprehensive guide – perfect for finding the best way to take your money to the UAE.

What Is the Best Currency to Use in the UAE?

Papua New Guinean currency PGK banknotes and coins

The best currency to use in the UAE is the UAE Dirham. It’s represented by the international code AED and the symbol د.إ.

The UAE Dirham comprises a mixture of banknotes and coins.

UAE banknotes come as 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 dirhams. Coins are available in 1, 50 fils and 25 fils. However, note that coins of 1, 5 and 10 fils are not used in everyday life. So, all amounts are rounded up or down to the nearest multiples of 25 fils.

Can I Use Australian Dollars in the UAE?

As the local currency is the UAE Dirham, bear in mind that Australian dollars are not accepted in UAE. In fact, the Aussie dollar has no value to locals and will need to be converted into UAE Dirhams to make your trip a smooth one.

What Currency Do They Accept in the UAE?

As the unit of currency in UAE is UAE Dirham, it is strongly recommended for you to acquire the local banknotes and coins prior to your trip. There are also foreign exchangers located at the airport to exchange currencies including Australia, US or New Zealand dollars for the local UAE currency.

Using Your Bank Card in the UAE

In the UAE, credit and debit cards are widely accepted except for the smaller shops and markets where cash would be the preferred payment method. Some of the best travel money cards include debit, credit and prepaid cards.

Whether you choose to pay with your card in the UAE is still up to you, as long as you’re aware of the fees and charges incurred by the respective cards.

Debit Cards

Debit cards in the UAE are best used for ATM withdrawals and card payments. They’re reliable, secure and convenient – perfect for transactions at most places in the UAE except for the smaller shops.

Depending on which card you use, you may face excessive bank fees for each transaction. These fees may include foreign ATM withdrawal fees and conversion fees.

To make your trip hassle-free, look for a bank card that’s designed for frequent travellers. Some travel-friendly debit cards that waive a portion of the charges include Wise, ING, Citibank and Revolut.

Credit cards are accepted as currency in Fiji

Credit Cards

While it is possible to use credit cards at most locations and at the ATM, it is still important for you to have cash on you in the UAE.

Some credit cards come with attractive features for frequent travellers, including complimentary travel insurance, rewards points, and additional security measures.

But the perks are countered by some exorbitant charges if you use your card overseas, including:

  • International transaction fees
  • High exchange rate margins
  • ATM fees
  • Potential ‘cash advance fees’ if you use an ATM

As with debit cards, there are some exceptions. Bankwest Platinum and 28 Degrees cards are designed for travellers and waive the currency conversion fees.

Prepaid Travel Cards

Lock in a favourable exchange rate with prepaid travel cards. Bonus: You also get a handy back-up card!

Even though they are convenient, you could end up with hidden fees. Some travel cards still impose the following:

  • Currency conversion fees
  • Uncompetitive exchange rates
  • International ATM withdrawal fees
  • Reload fees
  • Inactivity fees

Currency Converter for UAE Dirhams

The UAE Dirham (AED) is relatively stable to the Australian dollar (AUD) and the New Zealand dollar. Converting AUD to AED is easy with our currency conversion tool.

Simply enter in the value and currencies to figure out how much it would cost you to buy UAE Dirhams with S Money today. We use the same mid-market rate you’d find on Google or


*Wholesale exchange rate updated

How to Exchange Currency in the UAE

If you are venturing out of your hotel and into the local, smaller shops in the UAE, we would recommend having the local bills in your wallet. Having cash on hand would make paying for food and activities that much easier.



You can get currency in Fiji through the available ATMs

ATMs in the UAE

The extensive network of ATMs will make it easy for you to withdraw your money when you need it. You’ll find them at the airport, inside and outside banks, at the Metro station, in shopping malls and supermarkets, in hotels and in other locations around the city.

Important note: Make sure you notify your bank about your travels. If you don’t, they could consider any purchases in the UAE as suspicious activity and freeze your card.

Currency Exchange in the UAE

There are various ways to change your AUD into AED in the UAE. Changing your money to the UAE Dirhams prior to your trip would be ideal but there also money changers available if that’s not the case.

For currency exchange in Fiji you can use a money exchange
Traveller's cheques are still accepted as currency in Fiji

Travellers Cheques

Some banks and hotels in the UAE still cash travellers’ cheques. But that doesn’t mean you should invest in them. You’ll get just as much value (if not more) out of alternatives such as ATM withdrawals and direct cash exchanges.

Buying UAE Currency Before You Go

Buying UAE Dirhams before you leave home can be a seamless process, with three main options to suit your needs:

  • Buy AED online and have it delivered or collect it in-store.
  • Buy from a bureau de change.
  • Buy at your home airport.

Since bureau de change desks at Australian airports are renowned for their poor rates, we recommend avoiding them and picking up your currency ahead of time.

A fuss-free way to secure your travel money is to order it online. It can be delivered to your door or made available for pick-up at a convenient location. Online currency providers offer competitive deals you’re unlikely to find elsewhere. For example, S Money offers the same rate listed on Google and

If you’re in the city, an alternative is to visit a CBD bureau de change. Suburban outlets don’t have the competition to keep prices low and banks often supply high fees and poor rates.

How Much Cash Should I Bring to the UAE?

Avoid having leftover foreign cash at the end of your trip! If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve got you. Simply calculate your budget and plan accordingly.

Now, your budget depends entirely on whether you prefer to backpack or a more luxurious experience. It’s also highly affected by your travel itinerary.

Here are some of the average costs to help you calculate your own budget (all quoted in UAE Dirhams):

200 AED

Entrance to Burj Khalifa

45 AED

Chicken and salad


Soft drink

18.5 AED

10km taxi ride

695 AED

Sand dunes buggy ride for two

Track the best time to buy currency

We match the currency exchange rate with the rate shown on Google or Xe. In real time.

This means you never pay over-inflated rates and can be 100% positive you are getting the most competitive rate for currency exchange.

  • Check out the daily rates:

Not ready to buy yet?
You can get a free rate tracker!

Updated: Posted on