While not traditionally considered a tourist destination, Bangladesh is growing in popularity. And with its fascinating history, breathtaking panoramas and amazing wildlife, it isn’t hard to see why.
Of course, you won’t be able to make the most of your visit unless you stock up on local currency. We’ve put together this handy guide so you’ll have one less thing to worry about as you plan your trip.
Read on for the details on the Bangladesh banking and financial system, and for tips and tricks on how to find the best deals on foreign exchange.
Bangladesh’s official currency is the Taka (Tk). It has a floating exchange rate, which means its value goes up and down depending on market forces.
One Taka is made up of 100 Poisha. Poisha coins are available in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50. It’s uncommon to find coins in circulation, though. 1, 5 and 10 poisha coins are especially rare.
Paper money is widely available. There are currently 9 Taka notes in circulation, in the following denominations: Tk1, Tk2, Tk5, Tk10, Tk20, Tk50, Tk100, Tk500 and TK1000. However, the government is slowly withdrawing Tk1 and Tk2 notes. Once they’re all out of circulation, Tk5 will become the smallest Bangladeshi note.
While you do need to declare amounts over US$5,000, there’s no limit to how much foreign currency you can take into Bangladesh. When it comes to local currency, however, you can only import up to Tk100. This is barely enough for a taxi, which means you’ll need to get your hands on more Taka as soon as possible after you arrive.
Bangladesh’s three international airports all have foreign currency exchange kiosks. US Dollars, British Pounds and Euros are widely accepted and easy to exchange, provided the notes aren’t torn or otherwise damaged.
That said, you’re unlikely to get the best exchange rate possible at an airport. It’s a good idea to get just enough money to get you to your destination and then exchange more once you’re there.
You should also avoid exchanging currency at your hotel, as you’ll probably be offered an unfavourable exchange rate and charged an expensive fee. Try using one of the currency exchange kiosks around the city instead.
Either way, make sure you compare the exchange rate you’re offered to the mid-market rate. This is the real exchange rate, and anything different is likely hiding extra fees in it. You can find out the current mid-market rate by using this handy currency converter.
Also, remember that there’s no such thing as ‘no fees’ or ‘zero commission’. If a company says this, it’s probably still making a healthy profit by building it into an unfavourable exchange rate. Don’t be fooled.
For the best exchange rate possible, you should withdraw Taka from an ATM (more on this later).
Many banks in Bangladesh no longer accept travellers’ cheques. This means you’ll probably have a hard time finding somewhere to cash them.
In any case, travellers’ cheques rarely have good exchange rates. It’s often much easier (and cheaper) to exchange cash or use an ATM.
Visa, MasterCard and AmEx are accepted at many shopping centres, hotels, restaurants and other tourist hotspots. However, you should always carry some cash with you just in case.
It’ll be a lot harder to find places that accept card payments once you venture out to more rural areas. ATMs and foreign exchange kiosks are also less common here, so be sure to withdraw enough cash ahead of time.
Always choose to be charged in the local currency, whenever you pay by card. Otherwise, the card machine will make up an unfavourable exchange rate using Dynamic Currency Conversion.
You should also let your bank know the dates when you’ll be in Bangladesh. If you don’t, it might block your card for suspicious activity.
ATMs are widely available in major cities and tourist areas, but less so in villages and more rural areas. Most ATMs accept Visa (Plus), MasterCard (including Maestro and Cirrus) and AmEx. You can find the ATM closest to you by using one of these online locators:
ATMs often offer the best exchange rate possible, because conversions are worked out using the mid-market rate. However, this only holds true if you perform the transaction in the local currency.
You can expect to be charged fees both by the local operator and by your bank back home. Local fees vary, but can be as high as Tk 500 per transaction. Your bank back home may also charge fees, mainly an ATM access fee and a foreign exchange transaction fee.
Bangladesh’s banking system has improved significantly in recent years. Currently, there are more than fifty banks operating in the country, of which six are fully or mostly owned by the government.
The largest bank in Bangladesh is the state-owned Sonali Bank. It has more than 1200 branches across the country.
Privately-owned Dutch Bangla Bank is considered the most technologically advanced bank in Bangladesh. It was the first bank to introduce electronic banking; and also has the largest ATM network in the country.
The five most popular banks in Bangladesh are:
|Dutch Bangla Bank (DBBL)||https://www.dutchbanglabank.com|
A number of international banks also have operations in Bangladesh. These are:
|National Bank of Pakistan||http://www.nbp-bd.com|
|State Bank of India||https://sbibd.com|
It’s worth checking with your home bank to see whether they have a partner bank in Bangladesh. This may mean you can use ATMs and other banking services free of charge or at a reduced cost.
Alternatively, if you have access to a Bangladeshi bank account, use Wise to transfer money at the mid-market rate. That way, you can use your Bangladeshi bank card to make as many withdrawals as you like, while saving on foreign currency and international transaction fees.