Cairo - Post Report Question and Answers

Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Credit cards are frequently accepted in Maadi, Zamaalek, New Cairo - anywhere richer/expats live but cash is king. We generally try to use the ATM at the embassy but have had no issues using ATMs on the street. - Mar 2023

Credit cards are widely accepted at grocery stores, but you'll need cash to buy some things (produce on the street, other odds and ends). Some places have credit card machines that are often down/not working. - Aug 2022

It's mostly a cash economy but we've found it easy to also pay with card at many stores for larger items or even at restaurants. In our experience it's been safe to use cards and ATMs. Many ATMs around. - Aug 2022

This is definitely a cash-based society. There aren't even mobile-payment options which surprised me. It can be annoying to carry cash and you'll find yourself hoarding small bills as no one seems to have change. ATMs are everywhere and easy to use. Credit Cards can be used at some nice restaurants, grocery stores, shopping malls, and hotels. - Mar 2022

Credit cards are used, but cash is still king in Cairo. ATMs are safe, just use ones from the bigger well-known banks. - Dec 2021

At most nice restaurants you can use them as well as large stores/malls. However, always ask because even if they have the Visa/MC sticker on the register/door, they do not always work. I've had to put purchases down because machines were not working. ATMs seem to be in shopping areas, they usually work to get pounds out, but the few that dispense US dollars do not always work, so just be patient/prepared. - Feb 2021

I had no problems using ATMs that I encountered. This was not always the case with others, but I don't know of anyone that had their info skimmed. - Nov 2020

It's mostly a cash-based economy, so most local stores will want cash, but the big department stores and malls are card-safe and easy. ATMs haven't been a problem and I prefer to carry cash. - Jan 2020

In the neighborhoods where the Embassy places families (Zamalek, Maadi, Dokki, Mohandisseen) credit cards work fine and are safe to use. ATMs are common and I've not heard complaints about them. We usually just cash checks at the bank branch that's inside the Embassy. The fees are about the same. - Jun 2018

Credit cards are safe to use at restaurants, hotels, etc. ATMs are common and safe to use. I use Uber a lot and pay via the app. Local markets, non-Uber taxis, admission to sightseeing, you'll need cash. Commissary you can use credit card. - Jan 2018

Credit cards are accepted at the commissary, at the small PX in the embassy, at many higher-end restaurants and grocery stores. That said, Egypt is still largely a cash-based society so you will need to carry cash. Most people used the ATM inside the embassy or wrote checks to themselves at the bank branch in the embassy. I used the banking services inside the embassy (provided by Commercial International Bank [CIB]). The only ATM I used outside of the embassy was embedded inside a CIB bank branch near our apartment building and I never had any issues with it. - Sep 2017

I used a credit card at malls, major grocery stores, and established restaurants; however, I almost always carried cash for smaller purchases. ATMs attached to banks tend to be fine to use. - May 2017

Yes credit cards used. Egypt still very cash-based though so in small shops or local restaurants you'll need cash. Loads of ATMs. - May 2017

We used credit cards at some restaurants and at the Carrefour, and used cash everywhere else. There are ATMs everywhere and are generally safe to use, although we tended to stick to the ones inside banks. - Jan 2016

Credit cards are usually accepted in upscale restaurants and shops. Cash is needed in simpler establishments. ATMs are available and generally reliable. At times, a credit card or ATM card may not work for some reason, so it is good to have cash as a back up. - Jan 2016

We did it, the ATM's seemed safe. Stores accept credit cards, but not small stores or the Khan... - Jan 2016

I tend to use them at known establishments. The ATM at the Commissary is great, as is the one here at USAID, and the one at CAC is good, too, though it just disperses local currencies unlike the former two mentioned. - Oct 2014

We haven't had a problem using credit cards or ATMs. We usually use cash because that is what is always accepted. Make sure you have small bills since people rarely have change. - Aug 2014

We have used both without incident, although our bank in the U.S. sometimes freezes us due to fraud alerts, which is a pain. - Aug 2014

I never had a problem. I can use at larger shops and busier restaurants - often cash is easier and safer all around, especially outside Cairo. - May 2014

Only nicer places will accept credit cards. ATMs are widely available. I've been told not to use my credit card here for fear of fraud, but I've never had a problem using it in the places that accept it. - Apr 2014

No problem to date. - Mar 2014

I use an ATM all the time with no problems. Very few places take credit cards. This is a cash culture. - Jul 2013

I have only used credit cards at major hotels, but I know that others have been using credit and ATM cards regularly without incident. - Jul 2013

There is lots of credit-card fraud here, so I wouldn't recommend it. - Jun 2013

No problems. Most people use cash, although credit cards are becoming more common. - Jun 2013

Many small stores are cash only, but credit cards are widely accepted. I have never had a problem with the ATMs. I tend to stick with the CIB ATMs. - May 2013

This is not an issue at the embassy or at resorts/hotels. - May 2013

We have used them without problems. There is an ATM in front of our building. Never had a problem in 4 years. - May 2013

I've used both with no issues in Cairo. - Feb 2013

I haven't had a problem so far, but I am very careful about where I take out money, due to crime here. I also try to use ATMs stationed at reputable establishments --- malls, office buildings, and so on. - Feb 2013

Cash a check at the embassy and save the ATM fees. It is simple and easy. Use your ATM cards and credit cards with no issues in the PX and commissary. - Mar 2013

We use credit cards when dining out and while traveling. There are banks at both USAID and the embassy. - Mar 2013

there are plenty of ATMs, but remember that crime is out of control here, so there is some risk. - Feb 2013

I use them and have not had problems. - Jan 2013

Debit/credit cards are accepted in most large restaurants, but this is a mostly a cash society. They use the Egyptian Pound (LE), and it is currently about 6 LE to the $1. Lots of folks want tips for nothing here, i.e., a random person "helping" you park your car by waving their hand. - Nov 2012

ATMS are everywhere and work with most US banks. - Sep 2011

Like the US, be choosy about where you use an ATM. I found a skimmer on one in City Centre Mall. We use CBI bank's when we need one. - Aug 2011

Banks abound but cash is king. - Aug 2011

I find the foreign transaction fees to be high using ATMs here, but they are available and people use them safely all the time. - Jul 2011

Their are ATMs. Some stores have credit card capability, but don't rely on it. - Jun 2011

I had no problem using ATM machines and Credit cards. - Sep 2010

I have found them to be very safe. - Jun 2010

There are plenty of ATMs affiliated with Egyptian banks, as well as BNP Paribas, HSBC and Barclay's. I've never had a problem using an ATM. I mostly use cash here, but higher-end hotels, restaurants and stores take credit cards. - Dec 2009

I've had no problems - easy to use and available everywhere. The problem is everyone wants small change and exact change, and the ATMs often give you larger bills than you can realistically use in bartering or shopping. - May 2008


Subscribe to our newsletter

New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More