The value of Egypt’s currency has been changing a lot over the past couple of years, which can make it hard for visitors planning trips to Egypt to know what they should expect to pay for various things when they arrive. After all, if you’re reading of listing to something about Egypt from only a year ago, the value of the Egyptian Pound would have changed would have already changed three times since then, making whatever you’re reading or listening to squarely outdated and misleading.
Well, we’re here today with a brand new episode of The Egypt Travel VIDEO Podcast to update you on all things related to money and currency in Egypt as of the fall of 2023. You can watch the full episode on money and currency in Egypt below, including some helpful visuals that you can’t get in the text or audio version of this update. But also be sure to subscribe to the new YouTube channel called The Egypt Travel & Culture Channel to always get the latest updates, news, features, and a new upcoming behind-the-scenes series on the fun and craziness involved in running a luxury tour company in Egypt called Dreaming of Egypt.
For those who want a written reference to the main points in the above episode, well… we’ve got you covered on that front too. So here it is.
What IS the currency here in Egypt?
The money here is called the Egyptian Pound, and its abbreviated in two ways. Sometimes you’ll see it abbreviated with the letters L and E, so 100 Egyptian Pounds can be written as 100 LE – and some people even actually say LE instead of pounds or Egyptian Pounds sometimes – or other times you may see it abbreviated as EGP, and obviously this is short for Egyptian Pound. But we never say EGP, that’s only in writing, and only sometimes.
So what do Egyptian Pounds look like? Let’s start there, and then I’ll get into what it’s worth and why you need to be careful when you’re checking on prices for things here in Egypt in pounds.
The money here in Egypt is colorful and it comes in different shapes and sizes. There are 7 different paper notes in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 LE. An Egyptian Pound bank note larger than 200 LE doesn’t exist, even though it would be really really useful to have larger denominations, especially since so much stuff here in Egypt is paid for in cash, including really big purchases like cars and apartments sometimes.
So when you’re buying something big, like a car, for example, you have to literally carry around a suitcase full of cash to pay for it. When my company, Egypt Elite, bought a new custom VIP van recently, I had to pack up all of the cash to pay for the van in literal suitcases to carry it. I think we got about 2 million Egyptian Pounds into one suitcase before it was bursting at the seams, which would be about 10,000 200-pound notes, if I remember correctly.
So now I’m sure you’re wondering – How much is that? How much is 2 million Egyptian Pounds in dollars and euros and British Pounds or Australian or Canadian Dollars? Well, I’m not going to go through every currency conversation, but today – and this is important because this very well can, and likely will, change in days, weeks, or a few months – but today, in September 2023, 2 million Egyptian Pounds is about 65,000 US dollars or about 60,000 Euros.
And that’s a pretty hefty sum to be carrying around in a suitcase in any country. I don’t think I’ve ever carried around that much cash in dollars or Euros. I had to lug 50,000 Euros around in a backpack a few months ago, but in 100s and 200s, even 50,000 Euros was only enough to take up about the bottom third of the small backpack that I usually travel with as my carry-on.
So millions of Egyptian Pounds isn’t quite as much as it sounds like when you say millions of anybody’s currency, but in Egypt, this is honestly a lifetime fortune for most people here. But let’s talk on a more practical level… like how much is 50 or 100 or 200 Egyptian Pounds actually worth.
The Value of the Egyptian Pound
As of right now, in September of 2023, 50 Egyptian Pounds is about 1 dollar and 62 cents in US currency, and its about 1.5 Euros. 100 Egyptian Pounds is about 3 US dollars and 25 cents, or 3 Euros. So that makes 200 Egyptian Pounds equal to about 6.50 in US dollars or 6 Euros.
When I first moved to Egypt 20 years ago, 1 US dollar was worth about 5 or 6 Egyptian Pounds. Then by 2012 I remember it was up to about 8 or 9 LE to the dollar. Before Covid in 2019 and 2020, I think it was about 15 or 16 to the dollar, and just after Covid when we restarted our on-the-ground operation in 2021 it was about 18.
But just in the last year alone, the value of the Egyptian Pound has been almost cut in half. Last spring, in 2022 it was still sitting at about 18. Then later in the year it went up to 23 and then by the beginning of 2023 it was up to almost 31 pounds to the dollar and 33 to the Euro.
Now, this doesn’t mean that something that cost 1 dollar or Euro a year ago now only costs about 60 cents. Prices in Egypt have increased too to keep up with the declining value of the Egyptian Pound. So something that costs 1 dollar a year ago probably still costs 1 dollar today, but whereas it might have cost 18 Egyptian Pounds a year ago, the price has increased to 30 or 31 Egyptian Pounds today.
What that means for foreigners is that Egypt has NOT gotten half as cheap to visit. It’s actually getting more and more expensive every year because the cost of hotels and the cost of gasoline and the cost of tourist site tickets, etc. etc. are all going up every year too. So in our currency, the cost is the same now or slightly higher than it was one or two years ago.
Only during 2020 and 2021 did costs drop drastically, but they’ve come back up to normal now But what HAS happened is that the cost of everything for local Egyptians has nearly doubled. So an Egyptian family might have been able to spend 300 or 500 pounds for one month’s worth of basic groceries one year ago, and now they are spending 300 or 500 pounds for one or two weeks’ worth of groceries, even though their salaries have stayed the same.
In my company here, I increased the salaries of our local employees, which was already a very very good salary for Egypt, by 50% back in February, and we’ll probably do that again later this year if things continue like this because I don’t want our local staff having to worry about the value of their paychecks being gutted on the local economy.
That’s one of the many reasons we have a very loyal, top-quality local staff because not only do we pay them very very well for Egypt, but we take care of them in so many other ways and they really appreciate being respected and valued like that as part of our team and our family at Egypt Elite and also our new sister company, Egypt Expeditions.
Ok, so let’s move on now to talk about getting local cash out in Egypt.
Using ATMs in Egypt
In most ATMs in Egypt, the maximum you can pull out at one time with a foreign debit card is usually 4000 Egyptian Pounds, so that’s about 130 US dollars or 120 Euros. The ATM might offer higher amounts or have its own high maximum, but in my experience that’s usually for cards from that bank or local cards from Egypt, while foreign debit cards have a lower limit for withdrawals, which is usually 4000 Egyptian Pounds per transaction.
But honestly, when you first arrive to Egypt, that’s about the max you need to pull out and keep on you as you begin exploring the country. You shouldn’t need more than that in your first few days or even your first week really.
Speaking of ATMs, they are everywhere in Egypt. You won’t have trouble finding a place to pull out money once you get here, and you won’t have trouble finding a machine that works with your foreign debit card.
About 10 or 15 years ago, I remember only about half of the ATMs working with my American debit card because of the card network being different than our home network on some of the machines. But now, either our home banks have joined more networks or Egypt’s ATMs have joined the most common foreign networks and I almost never have a problem with an ATM now working with my card. And when I do, there’s always one or two more ATMs beside the one that won’t work, so I am never NOT able to get local cash out very easily anywhere in Egypt.
For this reason, you don’t need to worry about obtaining local Egyptian currency in advance of a trip here. I know that many people like to order local currency from their home bank before they travel abroad and that makes them feel more comfortable. But you really don’t need to do that for Egypt.
When and Where Should You Withdraw Cash in Egypt?
If you’re being taken care of by a company here, you shouldn’t need any cash on arrival. With our company, for example, we meet you pre-immigration when you get off of the plane inside of the airport and inside of the secure area right after you get off of the plane, so you don’t have to pay for anything or even tip anyone at all, so there’s no need for having or using Egyptian Pounds at all on your first day unless you decide to go out in Cairo and do something later in the day.
But you don’t need any cash from the time you land until the time you get to your hotel downtown. Even at the hotel, the luggage porters know that most tourists arriving from abroad don’t have local cash on them, so if you don’t have cash to tip them that first time, don’t feel bad. You’ll see them again and again, so you can always tip the hotel luggage guys later in your stay.
If you’re doing a DIY trip to Egypt and are going to risk trying to get a taxi from the airport yourself, you can still get cash out of an ATM in the airport if you absolutely have to. You’ll pay a slightly higher fee in the airport, but ATMs are everywhere in the airport too.
The only thing I’d strongly recommend against doing in the airport is exchanging money at a money exchange kiosk. You’re going to get killed on fees, commissions, and a bad exchange rate at any place that exchanges physical cash, so avoid that if at all possible all over Egypt.
For this reason, you don’t even need to bring US dollars or Euros or whatever your own home currency is in cash either. I know many people like to bring at least a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars worth of their own currency to exchange on arrival when they travel, but you really don’t need to do this in Egypt either.
The best way to obtain local cash in Egypt is to just withdraw it from the ATMs after arrival at your hotel here. Every hotel has multiple ATMs, every street has multiple banks with multiple ATMs in every city, and you’ll never have a problem getting cash out of your home bank account at ATMs in Egypt.
A Warning About a Sneaky ATM Trick
The only warning about pulling cash out of ATMs in Egypt is one that applies in every country – if the ATM asks you to convert the transaction to your home currency or another currency as part of the withdrawal, always refuse that offer. They will try to make it sound like they’re doing you a favor by offering you a fixed conversation rate to your home currency on the screen, and they’ll give you a warning that if you don’t accept their conversion rate that your bank may charge you a higher one.
But that never happens. Going with your own bank’s conversion rate on an ATM transaction and refusing the local bank or ATM’s conversion offer is always better for the customer. And if you’re withdrawing hundreds of dollars or Euros worth of Egyptian Pounds, the difference can be an extra 20 or 30 dollars or Euros per transaction. Always refuse the conversion offer on screen at any ATM if you want the best rates.
The Real Cost of Some Common Purchases in Egypt
So speaking of rates, we’ve already talked about how much the Egyptian Pound converts to in other currencies like the US dollar and the Euro, so let’s now get into how much specific items cost here in the local currency right now – over the summer of 2023.
- McDonalds combo meal – 100 LE
- Meal at a nice restaurant – 500-1000 LE
- Koshary meal – 20-50
- 10 boiled eggs – 50 LE
- Bottle of water – 5 LE
- Can of soda – 10 LE
- Bread – 1 LE
- A taxi ride between the airport and downtown Cairo – 300-500 LE
The Importance of Using UPDATED Info on Money in Egypt
This last one was actually the inspiration for this entire episode, and I’ll tell you why. I was recently down in Luxor again and I went to meet the owner of one of the dahabiya sailing yachts we use frequently. Two colleagues from my company and I actually sailed for a night on the dahabiya with them so that we could get in some quality time over 24 hours instead of just a quick meeting. But while we were on the boat and also getting to know some of the other guests they had sailing on it that week, we chatted up one couple from Italy quite a bit.
They were young and adventurous, and they said that they ere doing most of their trip on a tight budget, but they had decided to splurge on the Nile cruise part of the trip because that experience was the highlight of the whole trip for them.
Cruising the Nile on a traditional dahabiya sailing yacht isn’t typically something that budget travelers do, but this couple had decided that this was what they wanted to spend most of their money on and the rest they would do on the cheap.
So over breakfast the next day, the girlfriend was talking about how she had trouble finding a taxi driver that would take them from the airport to their downtown Cairo hotel, and all of them wanted more than 300 Egyptian Pounds but she only wanted to pay 100 pounds.
She said she went around to quite a few of them and they all were refusing to take them downtown for less than 300, and she thought she was getting ripped off and scammed, so they ended up running into someone from their flight who had a car and he offered to give them a lift downtown himself, which is actually pretty rare but good for them because they never would have gotten out of the parking lot of the airport trying to pay 100 pounds to go downtown.
She also mentioned that she had done a lot of research online and read lots of blogs and forums and postings and comments from others who had been to Egypt and were offering advice from their one trip whenever that was.
I told her that 300 LE would actually be a very good price for a taxi from the airport because even Uber, which is normally cheaper than even a very good taxi rate to the airport, is about 280 or 300 pounds.
And by the way, I have an entire episode coming about Uber in Egypt and why you should really avoid it here now because some really shady stuff is going on with Uber in Egypt and I need to explain more about that in detail so that you can evaluate for yourself whether it’s worth it to not for you to use Uber in Egypt nowadays.
More to come on that soon, but let’s get back to this topic. So anyway, this lady was a little shocked that I told her that 300 LE was NOT a scam price for a taxi from the airport nowadays and that absolutely no taxi driver in Egypt would have taken the 100 LE that she wanted to pay for that.
For a day or so after that, I just thought she was either super cheap or super delusional or both. But then it dawned on me… she said she did a lot of research before her trip on blogs and forums, but the problem with most of that content out there about Egypt is that it’s written once – because the person who wrote it has only been to Egypt once – and then it’s left out there for years and years to mislead people.
The Only Constant is Change
You’ve got to understand that Egypt is a place where things are constantly changing. The price of anything today is not what it was 6 months ago, and that price was totally different from 6 months before that because remember I told you earlier that the currency has been devalued twice in the past year alone, and by significant amounts each time.
So I think that this really nice Italian lady read somewhere on a blog or internet forum somewhere that a fair price for a taxi from the airport into downtown Cairo is 100 pounds, which would have been the case about 10 years ago.
When I first got to Egypt 20 years ago, I could get to and from the airport for about 50 pounds, and locals would even pay 30 pounds but I knew I could never get away with that as a foreigner because a taxi driver would know that I could pay more and they’ll just hassle you until you do.
I’ve even seen taxi drivers in Egypt chase foreigners into their apartment buildings before because they wanted more money than what was normal or even slightly above normal for that fare. True story… it happened to my Canadian roommate, who was a female, so needless to say this really freaked her out.
But that was back in 2003 and 2004. Ten years later, which would now be 10 years ago, maybe 100 pounds could get you from the airport to downtown by taxi. And I’m sure that many many people have written online about their trips to Egypt and many bloggers have done their obligatory “Everything you need to know about visiting Egypt” blog post after their one trip here.
But that crap is dated info. If it’s about history, sure, that doesn’t change… unless new discoveries are made or new research comes out, which does happen sometimes and it changes the narrative of what we know about ancient Egypt. But as far as things like logistics, prices, and even recommendations for hotels, restaurants, etc. go, don’t trust something you read or see online – or offline for that matter – that’s not current… as in from the current year you’re in.
That’s one of the reasons I created EgyptTravelBlog.com so that there’s at least one solid, reputable, reliable place to go for real and accurate information about travel to Egypt in any given year.
That’s also why I do the podcast, which I update regularly when new information comes out. If you’ve listened to some older episodes recently, you’ll notice that I’ve gone back several times and recorded a pre-roll update on many of them when things have changed to let listeners and followers know that something has changed since the episode was originally recorded. And some stuff I’ve just taken down altogether when it’s become no longer relevant or applicable.
Wrapping It Up
So there you have it, fine folks of the world. Everything you need to know about money and currency and prices in Egypt…. FOR THE TIME BEING.
Again, this was originally written in September of 2023, so expect an update when the value of the Egyptian Pound changes again and/or when prices on the ground here significantly change again.
But the overarching advice in here – about not trusting old stuff you read about Egypt on the internet or on television put out there by people who’ve only been to Egypt once – that advice from me to check current sources (i.e. EgyptTravelBlog.com, The Egypt Travel Podcast, and now The Egypt Travel & Culture Channel on YouTube) remains as timeless as the Pyramids themselves.