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

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cash currency exchange atms in albania

Albania, a hidden gem in the heart of the Balkans, has a stunning coastline along the Ionian and Adriatic seas, rugged mountains, and a rich tapestry of cultural influences from its Ottoman, Greek, and Italian heritage. Albania has something for everyone, from the vibrant streets of Tirana to the historic ruins of Butrint, the serene beaches of Ksamil, and the picturesque Albanian Riviera. To ensure a smooth journey through this enchanting country, becoming acquainted with the local currency and its usage is critical. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about Albanian currency, how to get local cash, ATMs in Albania and using cash or cards, and how to navigate Albania while staying within your budget.

Will I need cash in Albania, or can I only use my card?

In Albania, cash is widely used, particularly outside of the capital, Tirana. Although Euros can be used in many tourist destinations, it is preferable to have Albanian Lek (ALL) for everyday transactions to avoid unfavourable exchange rates.

In Albania, card payments are less common, particularly in small towns and rural areas. The lack of card payment infrastructure outside major urban centres contributes to the country’s reliance on cash.

Cash is required for:

Public transport, including buses and furgons (local minivans).
Small purchases include street food, local markets, and bazaars.
Tips and gratuities in restaurants, cafes, and bars.
Admission fees of some museums, historical sites, and local attractions.
Local taxis.
Accommodations in rural or less touristy areas.
Many hostels and budget hotels.

You can use your card for:

Hotels, particularly in larger cities like Tirana and Durrës.
Upscale restaurants.
Major retailers in tourist areas and large urban centres.
Booking tours through established agencies.
Car rentals and other travel services in major cities.

What currencies are accepted? Can US dollars, Euros, or Pounds be used in Albania?

Albania’s primary currency is the Albanian Lek (ALL). Note denominations include 200, 500, 1000, 2000, and 5000 lekë. For local transactions, the Lek is preferred.

Euros are widely accepted in many places, particularly in tourist areas and for larger transactions like hotel stays. US Dollars and Pounds may be accepted in some hotels or tourist shops, but the Euro is preferred if not paying in Lek.

How to obtain local currency in Albania?

There are two main ways to get cash in Albania. They are:

ATMs or,
Currency exchange

Note that Lek is a closed currency, which means it cannot be exchanged outside of Albania.

Where can I find ATMs in Albania?

Albania has 900 ATMs, operated by 11 commercial banks. Many of them are in cities. However, if you venture outside of cities, you can expect to find only a few.

ATMs are commonly found at:

Major Airports
Market and town squares
Every major town has its main tourist streets.
Shopping malls
Food lanes
Bank branches

ATMs will be difficult to find at:

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

Currency exchanges in Albania

You can use these places to exchange money in Albania:

Authorised currency exchange centres: You will find them in all touristy destinations mainly on the main shopping streets and near the market square, branded as currency exchanges.
Banks: Bank branches can also easily convert your currency to Lek, especially from currencies like US dollars, Euros, Pounds, Japanese Yen, Thai Baht, and Singapore dollars. Expect a pay a commission of 5% to 8% 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. Some large hotels may offer rates similar to banks but smaller hotels near the market square in Tirana will have higher fees and lower rates.

Pro-tips:

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 types of cards are accepted in Albania?

ATMs in Albania primarily accept Visa, Mastercard, and Maestro, though some also accept Cirrus and Plus. Do not expect them to accept JCB, UnionPay, Amex, Diners, Discover, or Rupay cards.

Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted for swipe transactions. You may be able to use your Amex only in a few places.

Currency exchanges prefer hard cash to exchange. Visa is widely accepted, followed by MasterCard. Please be aware of the fees you will incur if you use your card at a currency exchange.

Also read: Why doesn’t your card work at ATMs abroad, and what should you do?

Are Albania’s ATMs similar to those in other countries?

Yes. ATMs in Albania look and operate similarly to those in the United States, United Kingdom, Europe, Albania, and India. Some of them take your card completely inside during the transaction, so remember to take it after withdrawing cash from such ATMs.

ATMs can also offer currency conversion options such as ‘With Conversion’/’Accept Conversion’ or ‘Without Conversion’/’Decline Conversion’. To avoid optional extra fees, select ‘Without Conversion’ or ‘Decline Conversion’.

Popular banks in Albania for ATMs

Banka Komba Tregtare (BKT)
Tirana Bank
Credins Bank
OTP Bank
Fi Bank
Union Bank

Other banks with ATMs accept international debit and credit cards.

What are ATMs called in Albania?

ATMs in Albania have either the word ‘ATM’ or just the bank’s name. So familiarise yourself with the common banks in Albania with ATMs.

Albanian ATMs and PIN types

Generally, ATMs accept 4-digit PINs.

Merchants commonly use Chip-and-PIN cards. Magnetic stripe cards are also still widely accepted.

Languages used at ATMs and currency exchanges in Albania

ATMs in Albania have two language options by default: Albanian and English. Some provide additional options, such as German, French, and Russian. You get to select this option at the start of the transaction itself. Don’t expect any other foreign language options. If you don’t understand these languages, that’s okay. Use Google Translate’s camera function to translate the options on your phone in real-time! Please keep in mind that these translations are not always completely accurate, so don’t rush through the transaction.

You can also get your money in Albania by interacting in the two languages mentioned above at currency exchanges.

ATM fees and withdrawal limits in Albania

Withdrawal limit: ATMs typically limit withdrawals per transaction to between Lek 75,000 and Lek 100,000.

ATM fees: Unfortunately, Albania has no free ATMs. However, the fees range from Lek500 to Lek800, allowing you to select the one with the lowest fees.

Find free ATMs, currency exchanges, and money transfers in Albania with ATM Fee Saver

The ATM Fee Saver app on your mobile or web can help you find ATMs in Albania with lower fees, as well as currency exchange and money transfer locations. It lists the fees for using foreign cards at these ATMs, as well as the withdrawal limits. Use the app’s simple calculator to determine the exact withdrawal fees in Albania. Once you’ve selected an ATM, the app’s navigation feature will direct you there. It provides information on 50 countries, including Albania.

Tips for avoiding high fees at Albanian ATMs and currency exchanges

Use ATMs with lower fees across the country
Use the ATM Fee Saver app to locate fee-free or low-cost ATMs.
Select “Decline Conversion” or “Without Conversion” during ATM transactions.
Consider receiving fee-free cards from your home country.
For more information and alternative methods, see our detailed article, Withdrawing cash abroad? 9 ways to avoid foreign ATM fees.

For currency exchange:

Avoid no-fee exchange offices at all costs when getting money in Albania. If they say no fee, it means they factor their fee into the exchange rate. Nothing is ever free in currency exchange.
Avoid using credit or debit cards for direct transactions.
Note – Lek is a closed currency, so if you carry it back home you will not be able to sell it.

Are Albania’s currency exchanges and ATMs safe?

In general, Yes. Many ATMs feature cameras and security guards. Crime rates near ATMs are low. Pick-pocketing is more common.

For ATMs:
Use ATMs at Bank Branches: Instead of standalone machines, choose ATMs located inside bank branches. These are generally more secure and resistant to skimming devices.
Monitor Your Card Transactions: Regularly check your credit card transactions using your bank’s mobile app or online banking platform. Report any unauthorised transactions as soon as they occur.
Avoid using public Wi-Fi for sensitive transactions. When accessing online banking or making credit card transactions over public Wi-Fi networks, exercise caution. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to increase security.
Keep your card in sight. During transactions, keep your credit card in your line of sight. Avoid giving your card to merchants who keep it out of sight.
Carry Two Cards: It is a good idea to carry two credit cards when travelling. This way, if one card fails, you still have a backup option.

For currency exchanges, only use authorised and registered currency exchange locations.

Is it safe to carry cash while travelling in Albania?

In general, yes. it is safe to carry a reasonable amount of cash in Albania. And necessary. To safely carry cash while travelling in Albania, consider these tips:

Instead of keeping all of your cash in one wallet or pocket, divide it among several locations.
Use a safety belt or fanny pack to carry some cash.
Avoid displaying large amounts of cash in public.
When making a payment, do not show all of your cash at once.
For added security, store your wallet in the front pockets.
Be especially cautious with your bags, wallets, and purses in crowded public places such as party streets, trains, and buses.

FAQs

Can I withdraw cash in Albania for free?

Unfortunately, there are no fee-free ATMs in Albania. However, some charge less than others, allowing you to find the ATM with the lowest fees in the ATM network.

Are US, UK, Europe, Albania, and other credit cards accepted in Albania?

Definitely yes! ATMs in Albania typically accept credit cards from the United States, United Kingdom, Europe, Albania, and other countries.

Are there bitcoin ATMs in Albania?

No, as of the publication date of this article, Albania has no Bitcoin ATMs.

Are there any Bank of America ATMs in Albania?

There are no Bank of America ATMs in Albania.

Any Barclays Bank ATMs in Albania?

There are no Barclays ATMs in Albania.

Any HSBC ATMs in Albania?

There are no HSBC ATMs in Albania.

Any Standard Chartered ATMs in Albania?

There are no Standard Chartered ATMs in Albania.

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