The official currency of Iceland is the króna (krónur in plural), sometimes called the Icelandic crown (sign: kr and the international code: ISK). Everything we can tell you about it is that no even one time in our week there we touch or see a bill or coin. This doesn’t mean you can not use cash; it is just that cards are accepted everywhere, and this was the option we choose. For all we have heard from other experiences, you probably will only need cash to pay in some public restrooms (the ones we use didn’t need it).
Cash or card?
Some of the links on this post contains affiliate links. If you click through and purchase something we may receive payment. Although all these recommendations are based on our personal experience.
If you want to use the cash, you can exchange directly in your country before the flight to Iceland (in this case, the best option is to change it directly in your bank since it will offer you the best rates) or once you are in Iceland you can:
- Withdraw money from the ATM directly in Icelandic crown. You will probably need to choose to extract the money with the exchange rate from the ATM bank company or use your bank exchange rate, which is perhaps the best option.
- Or exchange your bills at banks or hotels (you will find a better exchange rate at banks).
You can check here the current exchange rate. But this can differ a bit from the one in hotels and banks, so check first the rate in your hotel and near banks, so you can compare and use the one that provides the best rate. If you want to withdraw from an ATM, the best option is to check your bank’s current exchange rate. This also applies if you you’re going to pay by card.
Some cards (like Revolut) offer you a live exchange rate in their app or website. This card allows you to create a pocket in a specific currency that you can change in advance. When you pay will be debit directly from the pocket in that currency. This has some benefits since you will have previous knowledge of the exchange rate. Also, it can help you to save money if you set a budget for the trip.
Payment at Gas stations (important for US cards )
To use the card in some gas stations, you will need to use a card with a 4 digits pin. If you don’t have one, you can contact your bank about this or get one prepaid card online like Revolut (also available in the US). Your other option will be to get one gas card from N1 gas stations or supermarkets; the disadvantage would be that you will need to fill your tank always with the same type of station. You can check here for more information.
Tips to save money in Iceland
- Hotels are great but wake up in the middle of nowhere in a guesthouse when you are traveling in Iceland is a fantastic sensation. When booking an accommodation, don’t use only one website or app; check different ones. Our favorites: Booking.com, Hotels.com and, Airbnb.
- Don’t waste money on bottles of water. Water in Iceland is very safe to drink from the tap.
- Bringing some cans and fast food will save you a lot of money to cook your meals. Most of the accommodations count with a kitchen with all the supplies you will need (like oil, salt, and pepper). There are long roads without restaurants or cafes, so having a packaged food is the best option.
- Some foods like yogurts, milk, fruits, or cheese are best to buy fresh from the supermarket. Check Bonus supermarket for the best deals (just have in mind their opening times, which change depending on the day of the week but in general, it close around 18:00 or 19:00).
- Buy alcohol in the Duty-Free from Keflavík Airport.
- Prepare a good plan for your trip in advance. This includes not only accommodation and transportation but also meals and a schedule of daily activities.