Money Matters

A Guide To Georgia's Currency, Exchange Rates, And Payment Options

Traveling to Georgia can be a thrilling and enriching experience, but it's essential to be well-prepared when it comes to money matters. Understanding the country's currency, exchange rates, and available payment options can help ensure a smooth and hassle-free trip. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into Georgia's currency, the Georgian Lari, explore the factors influencing exchange rates, and discuss various payment options to make transactions seamless and secure. Our aim is to provide you with a one-stop resource to confidently navigate financial matters while you enjoy the beauty and culture of Georgia.

Georgian Currency: The Lari (Gel)

Description And Denominations Of Georgian Lari

The official currency of Georgia is the Georgian Lari, represented by the symbol ₾ and the abbreviation GEL. One Lari is subdivided into 100 Tetri. Georgian Lari banknotes are available in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 Lari, while Tetri coins are available in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 Tetri. There are also 1 and 2 Lari coins in circulation.

Banknotes And Coins In Circulation

Georgian Lari banknotes feature portraits of prominent historical figures on the obverse side and showcase the country's cultural and architectural landmarks on the reverse side. The banknotes have a vibrant color scheme, with each denomination having its own distinct hue. Tetri coins and Lari coins have unique designs that include national symbols and emblematic elements, such as the Georgian coat of arms and the Borjgali symbol.

A complete set of Georgian coins
From intricate symbols to native fauna: The Georgian Lari coins, a testament to the nation's culture and history.
Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The History Of The Lari

The Georgian Lari was introduced as the national currency in 1995, replacing the Georgian Kupon Lari, which had been in circulation since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Lari has undergone a few design changes since its inception, with the latest series of banknotes being issued in 2016. The name "Lari" is derived from an old Georgian word meaning "hoard" or "property," while "Tetri" is the Georgian term for "white" and refers to the silver coins used in ancient Georgia.

Georgian One Coin
Close-up of Georgian Lari coins: A blend of modern economy and timeless tradition.
Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Exchange Rates And Money Conversion

Exchange rates are influenced by various factors such as inflation, interest rates, political stability, economic performance, and global market demand for the currency. These factors can lead to fluctuations in the value of the Georgian Lari compared to other currencies. When traveling to Georgia, it is essential to keep an eye on exchange rates to ensure you get the most value for your money.

Tips For Finding The Best Exchange Rates

To find the best exchange rates, consider the following tips:

  • Research exchange rates before your trip to have a general idea of the current rates.
  • Avoid exchanging money at airports and hotels, as they often have higher fees and less favorable rates.
  • Use local banks or authorized exchange offices, which typically offer more competitive rates.
  • Consider using a credit card with no foreign transaction fees to minimize currency conversion costs.

Recommended Currency Conversion Tools And Apps

Several tools and apps can help you stay updated on current exchange rates and assist with currency conversion. Some popular options include XE Currency Converter, OANDA, and Google's built-in currency converter. These tools allow you to monitor exchange rates in real-time and provide accurate conversion rates between the Georgian Lari and other currencies. Always ensure that you use a reliable and up-to-date tool to avoid any discrepancies in the conversion rates.

Exchanging Money In Georgia

Where To Exchange Money (Banks, Currency Exchange Offices, Etc.)

There are several options for exchanging money in Georgia, including banks, currency exchange offices, and hotels. Banks often offer the most competitive rates and are generally the safest option. Currency exchange offices can also provide good rates, especially if they are located in the city center or popular tourist areas. However, it's essential to check the reputation of the exchange office and ensure it is authorized. Hotels and airports may offer currency exchange services, but their rates tend to be less favorable.

Currency Exchange Offices in Georgia
In a Georgian city, a digital currency board showcases exchange rates for popular currencies including USD, EUR, GBP, RUB, and TRY, reflecting the nation's active trade connections.
Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Typical Fees And Charges Associated With Currency Exchange

Fees and charges associated with currency exchange in Georgia may vary depending on the provider. Banks typically charge a small commission or service fee, while currency exchange offices may incorporate their fees into the exchange rate. It's essential to compare rates and fees between different providers to find the best deal. Keep in mind that some places may advertise "no commission" or "zero fees," but this may mean that they offer less favorable exchange rates to compensate for the lack of fees.

Tips For Carrying And Exchanging Cash Safely

When carrying and exchanging cash in Georgia, consider the following safety tips:

  • Only exchange money at reputable establishments, such as banks or authorized exchange offices.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and instead use a combination of cash, credit cards, and traveler's checks.
  • Divide your cash among different pockets or bags to minimize the risk of losing all your money in case of theft.
  • Be discreet when handling cash in public places and be cautious of your surroundings.
  • Keep a record of your transactions and retain your receipts for reference in case of any issues or discrepancies.
Georgian Coins
Displayed are Georgian coins: 1 and 2 lari, alongside 10 and 50 tetri pieces, emblematic of the country's currency and economic foundation.
Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Atms And Banking Services

Availability Of Atms And Banks In Georgia

ATMs and banks are widely available in Georgia, especially in larger cities and popular tourist areas. Major banks, such as TBC Bank, Bank of Georgia, and Liberty Bank, have a vast network of ATMs and branches throughout the country. In rural areas and smaller towns, ATMs and banks may be less common, so it's essential to plan accordingly and carry enough cash for your needs.

Withdrawal Fees And Transaction Limits

Fees and transaction limits for ATM withdrawals in Georgia may vary depending on your home bank and the local bank. Some Georgian banks may charge a withdrawal fee, while others might not. Additionally, your home bank may charge international transaction fees or foreign currency conversion fees. It's essential to check with your bank before traveling to understand their fee structure and any applicable transaction limits. Daily withdrawal limits may also apply, depending on the local bank and your account settings.

Tips For Using Atms And Banks In Georgia

When using ATMs and banks in Georgia, consider the following tips:

  • Choose ATMs that are associated with major banks, as they tend to be more reliable and secure.
  • Be cautious of your surroundings when using an ATM, especially during the evening or in less crowded areas.
  • Protect your PIN by covering the keypad while entering your number and being aware of any potential onlookers.
  • Familiarize yourself with the local currency denominations to avoid confusion when withdrawing cash.
  • Notify your home bank of your travel plans to avoid potential issues with your card being flagged for suspicious activity.

Credit Cards And Mobile Payments

Acceptance Of Credit Cards And Mobile Payment Options In Georgia

In Georgia, credit cards and mobile payment options are increasingly being accepted, especially in major cities, tourist areas, and larger establishments such as hotels, restaurants, and shopping centers. However, smaller businesses and more remote regions may still primarily rely on cash transactions. Visa and Mastercard are the most commonly accepted credit cards, while American Express and Discover may have more limited acceptance. Mobile payment options, such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, are gaining popularity but may not be as widely available as card payments.

Bank Card with Georgian Flag Design
Expanding payment horizons: Credit card and mobile payment acceptance on the rise in Georgia.
Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Tips For Using Credit Cards And Mobile Payments Securely

To ensure secure use of credit cards and mobile payments in Georgia, follow these tips:

  • Keep your credit card within sight during transactions to prevent unauthorized charges or skimming.
  • Use a credit card with an embedded chip and PIN for added security.
  • Regularly monitor your account activity and report any suspicious charges to your card issuer immediately.
  • Enable transaction alerts, if available, to receive real-time notifications of card usage.
  • Use mobile payment options with biometric authentication, such as fingerprint or facial recognition, for added security.

International Transaction Fees And Considerations

Before traveling to Georgia, it's essential to familiarize yourself with your credit card's international transaction fees, foreign currency conversion fees, and any other associated charges. Some cards may offer no foreign transaction fees, which can save you money during your trip. Additionally, consider using a card with travel rewards or perks to maximize the benefits of your spending while abroad. Inform your credit card issuer of your travel plans to avoid potential issues with your card being flagged for suspicious activity.

Tipping Culture In Georgia

Georgian Lari Payment in a Restaurant
Balancing tradition with modernity: Cash tips and mobile payments coexist in Georgia's vibrant hospitality scene.
Image courtesy: Shutterstock

General Guidelines For Tipping In Georgia

Tipping in Georgia is not as firmly ingrained in the culture as it is in some other countries, but it is becoming more common, especially in tourist areas. Generally, tipping is appreciated, but not strictly expected. When deciding whether to tip, consider the quality of the service provided, the type of establishment, and the level of interaction with the service provider.

Tipping Etiquette For Various Services (Restaurants, Hotels, Taxis, Etc.)

In restaurants, it is common to tip around 10% of the total bill if the service was satisfactory. However, you should be aware that some establishments might include a service charge in the bill, making additional tips unnecessary. For hotels, tipping is appreciated for services like bellhops (1-2 GEL per bag), housekeeping (2-5 GEL per day), and concierge services (5-10 GEL for exceptional assistance). In taxis, rounding up the fare or adding a small tip (1-2 GEL) is appreciated, especially if the driver was helpful or went out of their way to provide a pleasant experience.

How To Handle Tipping When Using Cashless Payment Methods

When using cashless payment methods, such as credit cards or mobile payments, tipping can be slightly more complicated. Some establishments may have an option to add a tip during the payment process. If that is not available, it is a good idea to carry some small change or lower denomination banknotes to provide tips in cash. If you are unsure about tipping or how much to tip, you can always ask locals or other travelers for advice, as tipping customs can vary depending on the region and specific circumstances.

Traveler's Checks And Prepaid Travel Cards

The Use Of Traveler's Checks And Prepaid Travel Cards In Georgia

Traveler's checks were once a popular option for carrying money while traveling, but their use has declined significantly with the rise of electronic payment methods. In Georgia, traveler's checks are not widely accepted, and you may have difficulty finding a bank or currency exchange office that will cash them. Prepaid travel cards, on the other hand, are becoming more popular as a convenient and secure payment method. These cards can be preloaded with funds and used like debit or credit cards at ATMs, shops, and other establishments that accept card payments.

Pros And Cons Of These Payment Methods

The main advantage of traveler's checks is their security, as they can be replaced if lost or stolen. However, their limited acceptance in Georgia and the fees associated with cashing them make them less practical than other options. Prepaid travel cards offer similar security benefits, with the added convenience of being more widely accepted. However, they may come with various fees, such as loading or transaction fees, and may not be the most cost-effective option for all travelers.

Tips For Using Traveler's Checks And Prepaid Travel Cards Effectively

If you decide to use traveler's checks, research banks and currency exchange offices in advance to ensure you can cash them when needed. It's also a good idea to carry some cash in Georgian Lari for situations where traveler's checks are not accepted. For prepaid travel cards, compare fees and exchange rates offered by different providers to find the best deal. Also, make sure to inform your card issuer of your travel plans to avoid any issues with card usage while in Georgia. Finally, always have a backup payment method available, such as a credit card or cash, in case you encounter issues with your traveler's checks or prepaid travel card.


Understanding Georgia's currency, exchange rates, and payment options is essential for a smooth and enjoyable trip. Being well-informed about money matters helps you avoid unexpected expenses, ensure you have access to funds when needed, and navigate financial transactions confidently while traveling.

To manage your finances effectively during your trip, plan ahead by researching exchange rates, fees, and available payment methods. Carry a mix of payment options, including cash, credit cards, and mobile payment apps, to ensure you're prepared for different situations. Always be cautious with your personal belongings and financial information to minimize the risk of theft or fraud.

Georgia offers a diverse array of experiences for travelers, from its rich history and culture to stunning landscapes and vibrant cities. By being well-prepared and knowledgeable about the country's currency and payment options, you can focus on enjoying your trip and creating lasting memories. Remember to be flexible, adaptable, and always carry a backup payment method to ensure a smooth and stress-free journey.

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