Addis Ababa - 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?

Yes to all. - Dec 2023

No, credit cards are only occasionally available. ATM are everywhere, but not all are safe to use. Better to use one at a hotel or embassy. - Aug 2023

Some places are cash only. Many places take credit card. Only use the ATM at the embassy or the American school. - Aug 2023

Do not plan on cards working at all! Places will blame YOU that it is your bank's or card's problem, but in actuality, the phone lines cannot connect with international banks. I have found though, that Zemen or Dashen bank card readers seem to work the best. - Aug 2022

In Addis, many grocery stores and restaurants take card. I use atATMs all over the city and haven’t had problems. However it is still mostly a cash system. - Jul 2022

No. So annoying. It's a cash system everywhere and even where there are card machines, these are often broken. - May 2022

Most businesses use cash only. Some have scanners for debit or credit cards, but these often don't work. When they do not, the restaurant or hotel or other business staff will say there is something wrong with your card. Not true. There are ATMs in the city, but I would only feel safe using them in the larger hotels. - Jun 2021

Cash only. - Feb 2021

Cards can theoretically be used at places like hotel brunches, supermarkets and the Ethiopian Government duty free store. The reality is that the systems rely on good power and internet connectivity and so you should always carry cash as a backup. Outside Addis it's a cash economy. ATMs are widely available the amount you can withdraw is very limited - only a couple of hundred dollars per day. - Aug 2020

The is a cash society. - Mar 2020

Credit cards are a no. People do use them in the major hotels, but be aware as there is an excellent chance they will be hacked, even shopping online. Make sure you set up two-factor authentication to protect your finances. ATMs are ok at the Embassy and the school. - Feb 2020

We never use credit cards here, it's all cash. There's the ATM at the embassy and at the school (ICS). - Feb 2019

ATMs aren't common, we used the one at the Hilton hotel which was near our house. Credit cards only accepted at upscale places. Mostly a cash economy. It might be different now, this was four years ago (2014). - Oct 2018

Not widely accepted and be careful where you use it. ATMs are around but again be careful where you use it - Aug 2018

Credit cards are not widely used. ATM are everywhere, but ask your friends which one they use. Once your card is eaten by the ATM machine, it is a lot of hassle. - Jul 2018

Credit cards are hit or miss. Some bigger stores accept them, but it all depends if there is a internet connection that day. Ethiopia is mostly a cash society. - Jan 2018

Major hotels and some tour companies will take credit cards, but it's basically a cash economy. - Sep 2017

I've used CC at the large hotels without problems. We use ATM cards at the embassy and a couple of the banks. It's almost 22 ETB to the dollar so as one person pointed out, you are carrying around a ridiculous wad of cash (that is the most vile currency I've ever handled - much of it is literally falling apart/disintegrating and even the new stuff smells awful. Do carry around hand sanitizer for that purpose alone). - Aug 2016

None of our credit cards work here (neither chip nor otherwise), except at the major American hotels (Sheraton, Marriott, Radisson). There is one ATM at the Embassy for use. Also daily, limited-hour, cashier services to cash checks. Basically it's a cash economy.

Side note - I laughed at the comments of others when I arrived about their issues with the local money. After year, I am a convert. The local money is the Birr (ETB). The paper money is old in most cases and disgustingly filthy. It smells foul. Most keep the bills in a baggy or something sealable. The conversion rate is currently 22 to the dollar, so writing a check for $500 results in wads of cash. Having to pay a bill, travel agent or some such, results in transporting a vast bulk of bills. Even eating out, in a nicer restaurant, requires an enormous amount of bills. - Aug 2016

Don't do it. Fraud is rampant, even at the high end shops, hotels and restaurants that accept cards. - Feb 2016

Very few places accept them. We would use the ATM at the major hotels occasionally but usually only at the Embassy. - May 2014

I've used the ATM at the Hilton a few times with no issues. We've also used our credit card an Bambis grocery with no issues. That said, it's probably better to rely on cash while you're here. - Jan 2014

Don't. It's a cash economy, and the few ATMs around are not trustworthy. Online is also done at your own risk. - Nov 2013

Use them at the Hilton's/Sheraton's ATM machines. - Jun 2012

There are more and more ATMs popping up in town. There are probably a dozen now that work with foreign cards. - Aug 2010

ATMs in Addis are not reliable at all. There are only a handful throughout the city, not all of them take foreign ATM cards, and they are frequently broken or out of cash. There is a dramatic foreign exchange shortage in Ethiopia, and it can be hard to get foreign currency, even at banks. You should prepare in advance for trips or expenses that require spending foreign currency. Credit cards are more widely accepted than ATMs, but are still a rarity. - Jun 2010

There is one ATM in the Sheraton Hotel. That is all. I don't know about credit cards; don't count on being able to use them anywhere. - Mar 2008

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