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Cash & ATMs in Pakistan: Fees, limits, exchange, cards & more

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cash currency exchange atms in pakistan

Pakistan, a country with a rich tapestry of cultures, landscapes, and history, offers a journey through bustling cities, ancient ruins, and breath-taking natural beauty. From the vibrant streets of Lahore and the historic fortresses of Multan to the serene valleys of Hunza and the majestic peaks of the Karakoram Range, it is a land of contrasts and surprises. Navigating this diverse country requires an understanding of the local currency, ATM usage, and payment options. This guide will provide you with the financial insights needed to explore Pakistan’s rich heritage and stunning landscapes with ease and confidence, ensuring a journey filled with discovery and wonder.

Do I need cash or can I rely solely on my card?

In Pakistan, you will need cash to spend at many places. Although big hotels and more upscale restaurants and shops will accept cards, it is still common to use cash for everyday transactions. Tourists need to have cash on hand, especially when shopping at markets and dining at local restaurants.

Make sure to have some cash on hand for…
Local and intercity buses
Traditional modes of transportation like rickshaws and taxis
Small local shops, bazaars, and street vendors
Tips at restaurants
Small local eateries and tea shops
Guesthouses, hostels, and budget accommodations
smaller tour operators.

You can swipe your card at…
Major hotels, especially in larger cities such as Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore
High-end dining establishments
Department stores
Bookings for tours and larger travel agencies
Supermarkets in metropolitan areas.

What currencies are accepted? Easy to use US Dollars, Euros, or Pounds?

The currency used is the Pakistani Rupee (PKR), and it is available in various note denominations such as Rs. 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000, and 5000.

High-end hotels and large shopping centres can occasionally accept US Dollars and Euros, particularly in major cities such as Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore.

However, when it comes to everyday transactions and smaller purchases, using the local currency is crucial.

How to get the local currency in Pakistan?

In Pakistan, there are three primary methods for obtaining cash:

ATMs, currency exchange, or money transfer

It’s best to avoid purchasing the Pakistan Rupee in your home country. It’s not widely accepted globally and has limited availability, making it difficult to find at home. Even if you do find it, the exchange rate will be unfavourable.

Where can I find ATMs in Pakistan?

Pakistan has over 4,500 ATMs, primarily located in cities with a few available in larger towns.

ATMs are present at various locations such as:

Important airports
Market and town squares
Bustling streets of popular tourist destinations
Shopping malls
Food lanes
Bank branches
Several corporate buildings

ATMs will be difficult to find at:

Smaller airports
Regional bus stops
Village interiors
Small towns
Places of worship
Secluded getaways

Currency exchanges in Pakistan

You can use these places to exchange money in Pakistan:

Authorised currency exchange centres: You will find them in all touristy destinations in Karachi. Ask to see their authorisation certificate.
Banks: Bank branches can also easily convert your currency to Pakistani Rupee, especially from currencies like US dollars, Euros, Pounds, Japanese Yen, Thai Baht, and Singapore dollars. Expect to 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.

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

Types of cards accepted

ATMs in Pakistan typically accept Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus, and Plus cards. Acceptance of JCB and UnionPay may vary. They usually do not accept Amex, Diners, Discover, or Rupay cards.

Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted for swiping. Your Amex card can only be used at a limited number of locations.

Most currency exchanges prefer customers to pay with physical cash when exchanging currencies. Many establishments accept Visa, followed by Mastercard. It’s important to keep in mind the fees associated with using your card at a currency exchange.

Are ATMs similar to those in other countries?

Yes, they are quite similar to ATMs in other countries. The ATMs are sleek and operate similar to those in the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and India. Remember to take your card after withdrawing cash from ATMs that take your card inside during the transaction.

ATMs also provide the option to choose between currency conversion or declining it. Choosing ‘Without Conversion’ or ‘Decline Conversion’ is usually recommended to avoid incurring additional fees.

Popular banks with ATMs in Pakistan

Habib Bank
Meezan Bank
Bank Alfalah
MCB Bank
Faysal Bank
Allied Bank

In addition to local banks, several international banks also operate ATMs in Pakistan.

These include Standard Chartered and HSBC.

What are the names used for ATMs in Pakistan?

The term ‘ATM’ is used around the ATM machine.

ATMs and PINs in Pakistan

Typically, 4-digit PINs are accepted for ATM transactions.

Merchant Card Requirements: Both magnetic stripe cards and chip-and-PIN cards are accepted for your convenience.

Languages at ATMs and currency exchanges in Pakistan

By default, ATMs in Pakistan offer two language options: Urdu and English. It’s fine if you don’t understand these languages. Use the camera function of Google Translate and translate the ATM screen on your phone! Please note that these translations may not always be 100% accurate. It is important to take your time and not rush through the transaction.

At currency exchange places, you can also communicate in the two languages mentioned above.

Withdrawal limits and ATM fees in Pakistan

ATMs usually have limits on how much you can withdraw in a single transaction. The withdrawal limit can range from Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000, although there is one bank that allows withdrawals of up to Rp 100,000 per transaction.

In Pakistan, ATM fees can vary widely, ranging from Rs 0 to Rs 1000. That means there is at least one ATM brand that doesn’t charge any fees!

Easily find ATMs in Pakistan with no fees, along with currency exchange and money transfer locations with the ATM Fee Saver app. The app provides info on the fees associated with using foreign cards at these ATMs and the withdrawal limits. Discover the app’s user-friendly calculator to determine your fee for withdrawals in Pakistan. After selecting an ATM, the app’s navigation feature will guide you to your destination. It offers information on 50 countries, including Pakistan.

Minimise fees at currency exchanges and ATMs in Pakistan

For ATMs:

Use ATMs without any fees while you’re in the country.
Use ATM Fee Saver app to find such ATMs.
Choose “Decline Conversion” or “Without Conversion.”
Get fee-free cards from your home country.

For currency exchanges:

Stay away from no-fee exchange offices when obtaining money in Pakistan – When they mention no fee, it usually means that they have factored their fee into the exchange rate. There are always costs associated with currency exchanges.
It is advisable to refrain from using credit and debit cards for direct transactions.
Avoid purchasing Pakistani Rupee in your home country – It’s not a widely accepted currency and the exchange rates are not favourable.
It’s not advisable to bring back a large amount of Pakistani Rupee when returning home, as the exchange rate for selling it will likely be unfavourable. Furthermore, it is unlikely to be purchased by currency exchanges outside of Pakistan.

Are currency exchanges and ATMs in Pakistan safe?

Several factors determine the safety of using ATMs in Pakistan:

ATM Location
Time of using the ATM
People around the ATM

Use ATMs located at bank branches. These are typically more secure and less vulnerable to skimming devices.
Stay on top of your card transactions. Report any unauthorised transactions promptly.
Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi for sensitive transactions. Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to enhance your online security.
Make sure to always keep your card within your line of sight, especially when handing it to a merchant to swipe.
Consider Carrying Two Cards. So, if one has a problem, you will have a choice.

When it comes to currency exchanges, it’s important to stick with authorised and registered exchange places.

Is it safe to carry cash while travelling in Pakistan?

Typically, the answer is no. It’s important to keep in mind that different cities and towns have varying levels of safety. However, as a general rule, it’s wise to only carry the necessary amount of cash for the day or a few hours. If you frequently find yourself in need of cash while travelling to Pakistan, here are some helpful tips to ensure the safety of your money:

Distribute your cash across multiple pockets or wallets. Disseminate the information.
Consider using a safety belt or fanny pack to keep some cash on hand.
Be mindful of displaying large sums of money in public.
Best to be cautious and avoid displaying all of your cash at once during payments.
Keep your wallets in the front pockets of your pants if you can.
In crowded areas, such as busy streets or public transportation, keep a firm grip on your purses, wallets and bags and keep them close to you.

Häufig gestellte Fragen

Any fee-free ATMs for cash withdrawals in Pakistan?

Indeed, there is a bank that does not charge ATM Fee for foreign cardholders.

Can credit cards from the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and other countries be used in Pakistan?

Yes. Cards from the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and other countries are generally accepted at ATMs in Pakistan.

Are there any Bitcoin ATMs in Pakistan?

Pakistan does not currently have any Bitcoin ATMs.

Are there any Bank of America ATMs in Pakistan?

Bank of America ATMs are not available in Pakistan.

Are there any Barclays Bank ATMs in Pakistan?

Barclays ATMs are not available in Pakistan.

Any HSBC ATMs in Pakistan?

HSBC ATMs are not available in Pakistan.

Any Standard Chartered ATMs in Pakistan?

Pakistan has several Standard Chartered ATMs available.

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