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Before travelling | During your journey

Money


The official currency of Madagascar since January 1, 2005 is the Malagasy Ariary (MGA), which has been reintroduced to replace the Malagasy franc. One Ariary (Ar) is divided into 5 iraimbilanja, which turns it to one of the two circulating currencies with a non decimal division in the world. The word Ariary means literally a silver dollar, and it was introduced for the first time in 1961 being equal to 5 Malagasy francs. The banknotes still show in small print how many francs they are worth to avoid misunderstandings.

There are banknotes of 10,000 MGA, 5,000 MGA, 2,000 MGA, 1,000 MGA, 500 MGA, 200 MGA and 100 MGA. The largest note of 10,000 MGA is worth about 4 €. There are even coins from 1 up to 50 Ar. The one of 50 Ar is very beautiful and has baobabs carved on it. 
1 $ is about 2,000 Ar and 1€ about 2,500 Ar.

Important: Although the Malagasy franc does no longer officially exist since 2005, travellers can still find prices in francs especially in some rural areas. So when you see or hear the amount of money you have to pay, be sure you all are talking about Ariarys before paying!

Ariary coins Ariary note

You'll find people wanting to change money for you on the street or at the airport. But: Exchanging money at the illegal market is illegal! Probably the best exchange rate for all major currencies is provided by the BFV/ Société Générale Bank, which is represented in all big cities.

Travellers cheques can be exchanged only at the BNI/Crédit Lyonnais Bank, though this at a worse exchange rate than when exchanging cash (other bank just refuse to exchange them).  BNI/Crédit Lyonnais Bank has representations in all major cities. You will be required to show the original purchase receipt!

Most major credit cards are starting to be accepted in top hotels and major travel agencies in the capital and other major towns, but have limited usage elsewhere. There are some ATMs at different banks in Tana, at the Hilton Hotel and at the airport but you can mostly withdraw maximal 150 € with your visa card. Other cards will not even be accepted. Of course you can repeat the transaction as often as you like, but you will be charged each time with the correspondent bank fees. Some banks in Tana do offer the possibility to withdraw higher amounts at desk, but this is a long process you would like to avoid.

The acceptance of credit cards will considerably spread over the country as soon as Madagascar is connected to submarine high speed cable that will allow a data exchange with Europe 2008.

For a current exchange rate of the MAG to USD and EUR you can check the internet site of the BNI/Crédit Lyonnais Madagascar Bank at: www.bni.mg. Click on "Marché des changes".