Rials or Tomans?
Iranian money, Rials or Tomans? Usually, this is what confuses almost every traveler in Iran. Yes, we have two common currencies in Iran. The first and the official currency is Iranian Rial (Rls or IRR) and the currency people use informally, is Tomans. Basically, each Toman is equal to 10 Rials.
Iranians use Rials in banknotes, coins, official deals and use Tomans informally. Rials are the printed and Tomans are the discussed currencies. So, when you want to buy something at a store, pay for taxi and shopping, you are facing Tomans, not Rials.
When a taxi driver says the price from getting here to there is 500, he means Tomans, which means that you'll be paying using a 5,000 Rial note. Since we have too many zeros in our bank notes, sometimes people even don’t bother to say 3000 or 5000 tomans and prefer saying 3 or 5 Tomans!
Credit Cards and Travelers Cheques
Due to the sanctions against Iran even common, major credit cards like Visa and MasterCard are not accepted in Iran; so bring cash or try credit cards (gift Cards) issued by local banks in Iran. It is not possible to exchange travelers' cheques either.
What type of cash is acceptable? It is not important; US dollars; Euro; GBP are all accepted in Iran. You should change your money in a currency exchange, and you will have no problem finding them all around the country. Use Iranian Rials when you are wondering out and shopping or eating (most places only accept Rials). Like everything in Iran, things can change overnight so make sure you check the exchange rate.
If you are from a country (small African or South American countries, for example) whose currency is not a major currency, try to change your money to US dollars or Euros. It is very rare that you wouldn't be able to change your country's money, but why take the risk? Iranian Rial rate is changing frequently so please contact a trusty money changer or check on internet for currency converters, such as:
Although Iran has a functioning network of ATMs (cashpoint machines) all around the country and POSE machines even in most of small shops, but you can only use credit/gift cards issued by local banks in Iran.
The quickest and easiest way to change cash is at an official money-exchange office, where the whole deal is done in seconds, unlike in most banks where half an hour is considered fast. Exchange shops can be found in most cities, usually signed in English. Changing money in an exchange shop is much safer than doing so with a street moneychanger. It is advisable to bring hard currency for exchange purposes.