The leu is the official currency of Romania. Since January 2007, the old Romanian leu (plural lei) was replaced by the Romanian New Leu (abbreviated RON). The new lei come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 200 and 500, but it is better to use only smaller banknotes (up to 100 lei), as they are more frequently used. The leu’s subdivision is the ban (plural bani), with 1lei=100bani. The bani coins come in 1, 5, 10 and 50 denominations.
When changing money, you often need to show your ID card or passport. Although the exchange rate at a bank is not as convenient as that from a private exchange office, it’s safer to go there. Most banks are usually open Monday to Friday, between 9:00 and 17:00. However, if you decide to change money at an exchange office, pay attention to the rate and count your money carefully. You can also change money at the hotel or airport, but this is the least profitable option.
Credit Cards and Travellers Cheques
You can find ATMs (cash points) virtually everywhere in the urban areas, but they are not so frequent in the countryside. They are available 24hours per day and accept all the major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, American Express etc) based on a PIN code. Usually you will be charged with a cash withdrawal fee, depending on each bank’s policy.
Paying by credit card is a good option if you are in a large department store, hotel or restaurant, but this does not hold true for smaller stores. However, you should make sure this paying method is allowed before reaching the cash desk, even if there are stickers suggesting it.
Travellers Cheques are very difficult to change in Romania, so it’s better to avoid them. Cash remains the best and easiest way to pay.
Although a member of the European Union, Romania does not use euro. For convenience, many hotels show the room prices in euro, while some travel agencies accept this currency for their products and services. The exchange rate between the Romanian leu and euro or other currencies is under continuous fluctuation, so before coming to Romania, you’d better check it here.