a VirtualTourist member from Mumbai asked on Feb 14, 2015
Will I be able to change US 100$ bills into local currency at the Airport ?
Or will I have to lug around US $ bills in smaller denominations ?
Many thanks for any help offered.
I have no knowledge of currency change facilities at Casablanca airport, but you will have no problem changing large denomination dollar banknotes in the banks around United Nations Square. I always use a small money shop in Boulevard Tahar el Aloui the street that leads off Avenue des Far on the left hand side of the clock tower, they don't even ask for my passport when changing £100 sterling.
One thing to watch, make sure your banknotes are in very good condition, no tears or ink marks, Moroccan banks are paranoid about old worn foreign currency notes but are not hesitant about issuing dirham banknotes in filthy condition, especially the dh20's because they won't work in ATM's so they try to palm them off on counter transactions, don't be hesitant in rejecting them and asking for notes in better condition!
I forgot to add, if you are changing such large sums of dollar cash at banks or fast cash money shops you will probably be in possession of an equally large amount of dirhams when you leave the country, so make sure you keep all your exchange receipts to enable you to re-convert excess dirhams back to dollars at any bank or money shop before leaving Morocco.
The Moroccan dirham is a "closed" currency, almost impossible to exchange outside Morocco.
Thank you very much, Benny. Your answers were very helpful indeed.
Carlos, why are you using US$? If you use your debit card/credit card, you will get a better rate for the exchange. There are ATM's in Morrocco, I would use them. By changing your money into US$ and then transferring it to local currency, you are paying fees and using exchange rates twice, not a good idea.
Thanks, Steve, for the suggestion.
I do not want to use C/C's or ATM cards for various reasons.
There is a huge cost attached to C/C's. Not only are you charged interest from Day One but the rate of interest is approx 36% pa. ATM card holders also pay a charge + there is a maximum amt that can be withdrawn per day.
Besides the cost angle, there is also the possibility of your card being swallowed by the machine or someone hanging around ready to mug you.
I have been travelling for over 15 years now, been to over 50 countries. I will go with cash US$ and where its feasible, travel cards and Travelers Cheques.
Thank you for your suggestion, all the same. I know you meant well.
Cheers Steve, Carlos.
I see your travel finance regime is similar to mine, I always carry a substantial sum of money in cash Sterling and Euros with my Visa debit card and credit card as emergency backup only. Muggings around Moroccan ATM's are very rare, this is more common in the UK, but I always avoid using my cards in an ATM unless the bank is open because my card was once retained in a bank ATM in Chefchaouen for no logical reason, fortunately the bank was open, so I managed to retrieve the card on production of my photocard driver's licence, so avoid using cards at the weekends, and sometimes the ATM's run out of cash until replenished on Mondays.
Also, it's essential to inform your bank or card provider in writing or email that you intend to use it in Morocco, listing the various towns and cities where a withdrawal could be expected, this is to prevent ever-vigilant Fraudwatch departments placing a stop on the card, a major inconvenience!
If you look at the picture below, this is the big BMCI bank in United Nations Square Casablanca, there are two ATM's in a security foyer with CCTV surveillance, this is the best place to withdraw cash if necessary and you will feel safer using the machines, but tourist muggings around ATM's are very rare, the police come down heavy on criminals perpetrating violence on foreign tourists, and the criminals know it! You are more likely to lose cash to stealth robbery and pickpockets in crowded public places, especially the Djemma el Fna square in Marrakesh, I always use a money belt when on the move, worn out of sight under my shirt.
Thanks again, Benny, that was very helpful.
Yes, I too carry Credit Cards to be used for large hotel bills or in an emergency. Otherwise, in most countries, pre-paid travel cards or travelers cheques. In addition to cash, of course :-)
Much obliged for the other advice, Benny. This being our first visit to Morocco, I have very little idea about the place as such. Thanks again and all the very best.
One more thing, as I just read your mention of travellers cheques. It's pointless carrying any form of travellers cheques in Morocco, these are distrusted everywhere, even American Express, and are impossible to exchange for cash, so it has to be Visa, Maestro and credit cards for emergency backup, these are negotiable everywhere, in all major cities and large towns there are plenty of ATM's available. Occasionally, you might find one with a worn-out keyboard, making accurate data entry difficult, avoid these in case the machine retains your card and just move on to another ATM.
If this is your first trip to Morocco you can find plenty of information on my profile page by clicking on my avatar and scrolling down to the foot of the page to read all my destination reports.
I will be in morocco in 4 weeks and I also travel with cash as well --glad to see a fellow cash person! Btw in preping for my trip, I read, somewhere I can't remember, that $100s were hard to change. I even have noted on my packing list to "take 20's and 50's". Just letting you know.....
Although I have no personal experience of changing US dollars in Morocco, I can't see any problem changing $100 bills in any of the big banks around United Nations Square. Casablanca is the industrial "powerhouse" of Morocco and banks are familiar with handling very large sums of cash of all nationalities, sometimes I have even observed a guard at the bank front door totting a machine gun to discourage possible robbery. Maybe in smaller towns banks would have difficulty changing large bills due to a shortage of ready dirham cash, especially if the armoured car has just made its rounds and uplifted a load of money, but if one bank can't oblige just go along to the next one. Moroccan banks are always desperate to acquire foreign currency, because their own dirham currency is worthless outside Morocco.
In many years travelling Morocco I've never had problems changing a large sum of Sterling in a bank, sometimes the teller has even been known to manage a smile as he unloads a bunch of grubby dirham bills on to me, but no worries if he "can't" substitute them for ones in better condition, instead offering an apologetic gesture, no matter how dirty they are they will still be accepted for payment of goods and services everywhere, but reject any banknote held together with sellotape, it will be impossible to spend.
The pictures below show the condition of twenty dirham notes which are often in circulation, but with no tears, ink marks or sellotape it will still be acceptable, on my return trip in April this year I will be looking for the first opportunity to "unload" it on some unsuspecting shopkeeper!
I think the issue with the 100's is they are easily counterfeited, that is the hesitation. I remember about 5 years ago in Dublin, the money changing houses would not take 100's unless we had a certificate from the U.S. embassy certifying they weren't fake! Thankfully, I had already prepped for that situation, so I had a bunch of 20's......
Yes, Benny, no question of T/C's for Morocco. I use T/C's mainly in the States in addition to cash, pre paid travel cards and credit cards.
Thanks and best regards,
Right, Monica. I will carry 50's and 20's then along with with 100's of series 2009 A.
I think I'll manage fine :-) Lets see how it goes :-)
Thanks for the help.
Thanks Benny. I have begun reading your pages on Morocco. They are witty and extremely helpful.
Thanks a million.