Knowing how to manage money in Morocco is essential, even if you have already planned every last detail of your tour (which, by the way, you can do with our agency). You will certainly have to make a small purchase, buy a souvenir to bring back home, give a tip to the professionals of the circuit… We will talk about all this, and much more, in the following lines, so that you can get around while traveling through the country.
The first thing to know is the currency of Morocco: the dirham. It has been so since about 1960: until that date the Moroccan franc was used, a ‘legacy’ of the French Protectorate period, since its value was fixed on the basis of the French franc. From 1960 there was a period of coexistence between the two currencies, but the Moroccan franc ceased to circulate definitively in 1974.
The dirham can be abbreviated in two ways:
Unlike other currencies, such as the dollar ($), pound sterling (£) or euro (€), no symbol is used as an abbreviation. On the other hand, what is common, especially in informal environments, is the suppression of the abbreviation. This can be the case in the souks and craft stores, which is an invitation to haggle, which is discussed below.
In Morocco, cash is of the utmost importance. Although the percentage of electronic payments is increasing (as we told you in another section of this page), small daily transactions are still mostly in hand, with coins and bills as means of payment. Therefore, knowing the division and grouping of the dirham will be useful.
As a curiosity, it is worth mentioning that Moroccan dirham coins and banknotes can be, in turn, original ‘tourist postcards’ of the country, since some iconic monuments and landscapes of Morocco are printed or engraved on them: the ksar of Ait Ben Haddou, the kasbah of the Oudayas in Rabat, the Cape Spartel Lighthouse, etc. In addition, the image of the current king and the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Morocco are also omnipresent.
Another fundamental question for your trip is the equivalence of the Moroccan dirham. It should be said that it is a fairly stable currency: although there have been historical devaluations in past decades, its value has not experienced major fluctuations during the 21st century. This has been due to Rabat’s rigid strategy of pegging its currency to the euro (60%) and the dollar (40%), allowing only 0.3% variations, either above or below.
Since 2018 there has been a change in strategy, with a more flexible and liberalizing policy, allowing a much larger variability range: 5%, above or below.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The equivalence of the Moroccan dirham is a data that fluctuates daily. Therefore, the values shown below are indicative, as they are compiled at the date of writing this content (February 2023). Therefore, we recommend that you update this information before your trip, in order to have the most accurate and recent data possible.
To pay in cash in Morocco you will need to have local currency. In this regard, there are several ways to change your money into dirhams:
On the other hand, you should refuse any exchange proposal outside these areas, since it could be a deception: for example, by the delivery of counterfeit bills, wrong amounts or even by the risk of an attempt of theft. In addition, performing this type of operation is prohibited by law.
That said, it is important to know that many establishments also accept foreign currencies. Due to its proximity and relationship with its northern neighbors, the most widely accepted foreign currency is the euro, but in certain circumstances dollars or pounds sterling may also be accepted. In any case, this usually occurs only when it is an informal transaction, for example to buy handicrafts in the souk.
An alternative to the currency exchange is to withdraw Moroccan dirhams directly from the ATM. In this case, what happens is that the cashier himself calculates the transaction, retaining the corresponding commission before delivering the requested banknotes. However, this is a more expensive option than the previous ones, since in addition to the exchange commission (which is already high in itself), other charges can be added: that of the ATM’s bank for the use of said facility and that of your own bank for using the bank card outside your national territory.
In any case, obtaining money in this way is as simple as inserting your bank card, entering your secret code and selecting the desired amount. ATMs at bank branches are usually operational 24 hours a day. The center of large cities is well supplied with them, as well as strategic places for tourists, such as airports, ports or the museum environment.
However, in small towns in unpopulated areas there may be a shortage of ATMs or unavailability of banknotes. If we add to this the fact that in the most humble stores of these localities, electronic payments are not always accepted (or at least not below a certain amount), it is advisable to always carry some cash with you, in case something happens.
More and more establishments are accepting electronic payments. Of course, the bank card can be used in restaurants, hotels, supermarkets and businesses with a certain volume of activity. On the other hand, in small rural stores or even in some handicraft stalls in the medina, this payment system may not be available.
Slower is the progress of other forms of electronic payment, such as smartwatch or mobile payment (NFC). The stores of large firms and establishments of a certain level accustomed to dealing with premium tourists can count on this system, but this is not the case in traditional commerce.
There is no doubt that one of the attractions of traveling to Morocco is that, comparatively, the cost of living is lower in this country than in other destinations focused on tourism. In particular, it is much cheaper to travel in Morocco than in the European Mediterranean countries.
It is true that foreign-oriented businesses may have higher than average prices, and that in Morocco the luxury sector is a reality that enjoys good health. But in all cases, their services are much more affordable for the premium traveler or even the middle-class tourist.
To give you an idea of this, we show below an indicative list of prices in the country as a whole, with their equivalence in dollars and pounds sterling to better understand a comparative analysis with the United States and the United Kingdom (data extracted in February 2023 from the reference portal Numbeo):
A menu for two people in a mid-level restaurant, with several courses: 200 DH ($19.47, £16.17)
The concept of tipping in Morocco differs from that in the Mediterranean world, but it is not exactly the same as in many countries of the Anglo-Saxon world. In countries such as Spain or Italy, tipping is not obligatory and is only given in hospitality contexts when it is considered that the service or the product has been of high quality, without there being a standard percentage. In countries such as the United States, this tip is considered practically obligatory in the hospitality industry, in each case contributing between 10% and 15% of the amount of the ticket.
However, in Morocco, tipping is a concept generalized to many more sectors and professionals, representing for them a fundamental complement to their salary. In this sense, you will not only be required to tip in restaurants, but also in other services in which there has been personal contact with the worker. For example, tour guides or drivers.
Although it is practically obligatory, the amount to be delivered is not fixed, but is at the discretion of the client. However, it is usual to leave between % and % of the ticket to be paid, or an amount around DH for a guide or driver service.
For a foreign traveler, one of the most striking aspects of everyday life in Morocco is the custom of haggling over a sale price. Far from being considered an offense, bargaining down a product is considered commonplace and inherent to any purchase. However, not everything goes to reach a final agreement and in that negotiation you have to have a lot of left hand, not only to get a better price, but also not to appear disrespectful or rude.
Of course, bargaining cannot be carried out in all contexts. In general, bargaining does not arise in establishments and businesses where the person serving the customer does not have the power to set prices. For example, a supermarket, where the cashier or cashier cannot determine the cost of each product, but it is already fixed from higher levels.
On the other hand, if you believe that the person selling the product does have that power, then bargaining can be considered. This occurs, for the most part, in street market stalls or in craft shops in the medina, where sometimes the sellers are themselves responsible for the items, or have received indications about the margin of discount on the sale.
If you want to know some recommendations and good practices when it comes to bargaining,
visit this other page on useful tips,
where we dedicate a section to the subject. And if you have any specific questions during your trip, do not hesitate to ask the staff of our agency, who will accompany you and will know how to give you information about bank branches, exchange offices and other issues.