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Cash & ATMs in Kenya: Fees, limits, currency exchange, cards

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cash currency exchange atms in kenya

Every traveller is enchanted by Kenya’s breathtaking landscapes, from the flamingo-filled Rift Valley lakes and the lively streets of Nairobi to the perfect beaches of the coast. To enjoy this beautiful country, it is essential to be well-versed in the local cash, ATMs in Kenya, and available payment options. Travelling through the heart of Africa will be an unforgettable experience with the financial insights provided by this guide, which will allow you to confidently and easily explore the natural wonders and rich cultural heritage of Kenya.

Is cash necessary in Kenya, or a card will suffice?

While many larger establishments accept credit and debit cards in Kenya, most people still prefer to pay with cash in smaller towns and rural areas.

Be prepared to bring cash for…

Local buses and matatus (shared minibuses)
Local markets
Street vendors
Mom-and-pop stores
Some National Park reserves’ admission fees
Small local accommodations

You can use card at…

Larger hotels, particularly in Nairobi and other popular tourist spots like Mombasa and Kisumu
Classy eateries and a few watering holes in major cities
Large retail shops
Bigger tour operators

What are the accepted currencies? Is it possible to use dollars, euros, or pounds in Kenya?

The Kenyan Shilling (KES) is the currency of Kenya. It comes in denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 KSh. Shilling is preferred at most establishments and transactions.

Tourist hotspots, safari tours, and five-star hotels generally also accept US dollars. To a lesser degree, Euros are also accepted. Even though pounds aren’t widely used anymore, some tourist-oriented establishments might still take them.

Nevertheless, the Kenyan Shilling is utilised for smaller transactions and purchases made locally.

How to get the Kenyan currency?

There are three ways to get the Kenyan Shilling: ATMs, Currency Exchange or Money Transfer

Pro-tip: Do not purchase Shilling in your home country. The currency’s popularity in Africa is moderate, but it’s not a globally popular currency. So you won’t have much luck finding it, and even then, the exchange rate will likely be poor.

Where to find the ATMs in Kenya?

Over 4,000 ATMs are spread across Kenya. 10+ commercial and specialised banks run these. You will find a plethora of ATMs in most cities and 1-2 in small towns. However, you shouldn’t count on seeing them if you go on safaris to remote areas.

ATMs are widely available at:

Major airports
Market and town squares
Main tourist streets of every major town
Shopping malls
Food lanes
Bank branches
Some corporate buildings

Here are some areas where you might have trouble finding ATMs:

Small airports
Regional bus stops
Interior of the villages
In small towns, off the main streets
Remote resorts and retreats

Currency exchanges in Kenya

You can use these places to exchange cash in Kenya:

Authorised currency exchange centres: You will find them in all touristy destinations in Nairobi branded as currency exchanges. You’ll find some of them in other cities.
Banks: Bank branches can also easily convert your currency to Shilling, especially from currencies like US dollars, Euros, Pounds, Japanese Yen, Thai Baht, and Singapore dollars. Expect a pay a commission of 0.5% to 2% per transaction.
Hotels and airports: Airports have lots of currency exchanges and so do many large and small hotels. But the exchange rates are not great.


Don’t exchange at airports – Rates are poor
Don’t exchange at black market – You’re likely to be scammed
Bring new notes – Damaged, dirty notes will get you lesser rates or higher fees

Which type of cards are accepted in Kenya?

The most cards accepted by ATMs in Kenya are Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus, and Plus. JCB, UnionPay, American Express, Diners, Discover, and Rupay are not accepted by many of these establishments.

For swiping, Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted. There might be very few establishments that accept American Express.

Hard cash is preferred for currency exchanges. Visa is widely accepted at currency exchanges, with Mastercard following closely behind. Keep in mind that using your card at a currency exchange will incur fees.

Is the ATM system in Kenya comparable to those in other countries?

Indeed, it is. ATMs in Kenya are modern in design and operation, the ATMs mimic their counterparts in the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and India. Make sure to remove your card from the ATM after using it, as some of them may take it entirely during the transaction.

Some ATMs will give the option of currency conversion by asking With Conversion, Accept Conversion, or Without Conversion, or Decline Conversion displayed. To avoid unnecessary additional fees, choose Without Conversion or Decline Conversion.

Popular banks with ATMs in Kenya

Equity Bank
Absa Bank
Stanbic Bank
First National Bank
Gulf African Bank
I&M Bank

You can use your international debit or credit card at other banks also that have ATMs.

Additionally, Kenya is home to ATMs from the following international banks:

Standard Chartered.

Which name does a Kenyan ATM go by?

ATMs have the word ‘ATM’ on their signage or simply the name of the bank without using the word ‘ATM.’

ATMs and PINs type in Kenya

In Kenya, you can use ATM PINs of up to four digits in length.

While chip-and-PIN cards are becoming more popular, merchants still accept a lot of magnetic stripe cards.

Languages at ATMs and currency exchanges in Kenya

The two default language options at Kenyan ATMs are Swahili and English. Take advantage of Google Translate’s built-in camera feature to get real-time translations of the menu items if you’re not fluent in any of these languages! Please take your time and not rush through the transaction because these translations are not always 100% accurate.

To get your money at a currency exchange in Kenya, you can also interact in the two languages mentioned above.

Withdrawal limits and ATM fees in Kenya

Maximum withdrawal amounts: Most ATMs cap withdrawals at Ke 40,000 per transaction.

ATM fees: The ATM Access fees for ATMs in Kenya range from Ke 0 to Ke 413. This means there are brands of ATMs that don’t charge any fees at all!

Use the ATM Fee Saver app or website to find fee-free ATMs in Kenya, as well as options for currency exchange and money transfers. You can find all the information about the fees and withdrawal limits for foreign cardholders using Kenyan ATMs in the app. Get the exact Kenyan withdrawal fees with the help of the app’s handy calculator. The app’s navigation system will lead you to the ATM once you’ve made your selection. Among the fifty countries included is Kenya.

Tips to avoid high fees at Kenyan ATMs and currency exchanges

For ATMs:

Make use of the country’s fee-free ATMs.
A fee-free or very low-fee ATM can be located with the help of the ATM Fee Saver programme.
Choose Decline Conversion or Without Conversion when making an ATM withdrawal.
Bring cards from your home country that do not charge any fees.

For currency exchanges:

Stay away from any no-fee exchange offices in Kenya — They factor their fee into the exchange rate if they state there is no fee.
Stay away from direct purchases made with credit and debit.
In your home country, you shouldn’t purchase Shilling – You can expect bad exchange rates because it is not a popular currency.
Returning home with a large amount of Shilling will result in a poor exchange rate, so it’s best to avoid doing so. Plus, currency exchanges outside of Kenya likely won’t even buy it back.

Is it safe to use ATMs and currency exchanges in Kenya?

Several factors determine the level of safety when using ATMs in Kenya:

Location of the ATM
Time of using the ATM
People in and around the ATM

There have been numerous reports of people being mugged for their cash while waiting outside ATMs, particularly at night, on deserted streets, or even in busy areas. Kenya does have frequent incidents of people threatening tourists and locals with knives and guns to steal money and valuables, but generally speaking, as long as you take precautions, you should be fine.

Avoid using standalone ATMs and instead use those located inside bank branches. In most cases, these are safer and less vulnerable to devices that capture sensitive information.
Keep tabs on all of your credit card purchases by using your bank’s online or mobile banking feature regularly. Notify your bank of any suspicious purchases right away.
Use caution when logging onto public Wi-Fi networks to conduct financial transactions online. For an extra layer of protection, set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Make sure you can see your credit card the whole time you’re making a purchase. Do not give your credit card to businesses that hide it.
When you travel, it’s smart to have two cards on hand. So, you’ll always have a backup plan in case one of your cards has problems.

Is it safe to travel in Kenya with cash?

No, usually. Carrying a large sum of money while travelling in Kenya is not a safe idea. While it’s true that some urban areas are safer than others, it’s still wise to bring along just enough cash to cover your expenses for the day or a few hours at most. Having some cash on hand is a good idea when visiting Kenya, so here are some ways to keep your money secure:

Stay away from storing all of your cash in just one pocket or wallet. Disperse it.
Think about stowing some cash in a fanny pack or safety belt.
Keep big sums of money out of sight.
Be careful not to show your full cash amount when making a payment.
If you can, put your wallets in your pants’ front pockets.
Keep your valuables close to you and in a secure handhold when you’re in a crowded place, such as on public transport or on a busy street.


Can you withdraw cash free of cost in Kenya?

Yes, international cardholders can withdraw funds from 6+ Kenyan banks without ATM fees.

Do credit cards from the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, and Australia work at ATMs in Kenya?

Yes, most ATMs in Kenya accept credit cards issued by the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, and Australia.

Does Kenya have Bitcoin ATMs?

In Nairobi, Kenya, you can find a handful of Bitcoin ATMs.

Does Kenya have any Bank of America ATMs?

No, there are no Bank of America ATMs.

Any Barclays Bank ATMs in Kenya

In Kenya, you won’t find any Barclays ATMs.

HSBC ATMs in Kenya?

Indeed, Kenya has many HSBC ATMs.

Standard Chartered ATMs in Kenya?

A large number of Standard Chartered ATMs can be found in Kenya.

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