ATMS Saudi Arabia

Key Things to Know about Cash, Paying, and ATMs in Saudi Arabia

There are several things that we’ve learned always to check when we’re traveling to a country.  Aside from whether we have an electric socket converter, access to the internet, and drinking water, a key consideration is how we’re going to pay for things.  So will we need cash in Saudi Arabia?  Which ATMs work with foreign cards in Saudi Arabia?  What are the ATM charges in Saudi Arabia and can you pay on a card in Saudi Arabia?  These are all questions that we try and find the answers to before we travel.  And so here’s our guide to Saudi’s ATMs, ATM fees and charges.


How to Pay For Things in Saudi Arabia

We took cash out of an ATM at the airport in Jeddah, before getting our transfer that was included with our Saudi Transit visa.  We had to try two machines before a third machine worked.  In retrospect, we didn’t need cash at all for our two full days in Jeddah and we could have done without it and not had an issue.

TLDR:  Take a payment card with no foreign exchange fees instead of using ATMs in Saudi.


Wise card

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Get a WISE Card to take to on your travels. Two free ATM withdrawals per month, plus free to use to pay by card with zero foreign transaction fees.

We paid for drinks, meals, and our hotel with a card.  After the free transfer that we got with our transit visa, we took Ubers when we needed transport (and we needed a lot of it, at 33 degrees during the day in Jeddah with long distances between what we wanted to see in our 2 full days in Jeddah).  We connected both cards and Paypal to Uber, and so didn’t need cash at all.

We bought several items in Saudi Arabia (a new GoPro and an SD card) and paid for these on a credit card.  All the places we ate at also accepted cards.  It’s a law in Saudi Arabia that businesses have to accept cards, although this can be the Saudi Mada card (which is a type of domestic debit card), and that’s one of the reasons we wanted to get some cash, in cases we ran into a situation where we couldn’t use a card.  However, we didn’t.

ATMs in Saudi Arabia

There are several easy-to-find ATMs in the arrivals hall of Jeddah International Airport.  As soon as you exit arrivals, there’s a huge aquarium in front of you, the Saudi Tourism Authority booth on the left, and slightly to the right of the tourism booth, and several ATMs.  Two are for the Riyadh Bank, which did NOT work for us at all, despite trying with three different cards.  The third (in the middle) for Al Rajhi Bank did work.

ATM Withdrawal Charges in Saudi Arabia

If your foreign currency card works in an ATM in Saudi Arabia (there’s no guarantee that it will, as some machines are only for domestic cards), then it’s unlikely that there will be a charge by the Saudi bank (although your bank may make charges if you do not have free international transactions) .  Do let us know if you experience anything different and we’ll update this post for other travelers.  (comment, or send an email to [email protected] – be sure to include your country and the type of card you’re using – Visa or MasterCard)

These banks do not, at the time of writing have an ATM withdrawal charge in Saudi Arabia for foreign cards.

  • Alinma Bank
  • Alrajhi Bank
ATMS at Jeddah International Arrivals

Currency in Saudi Arabia

The currency in Saudi Arabia is the Saudi Riyal.  The Riyal has been pegged to the dollar at the rate of US$1 = 3.75 SR.

  • There are 100 halala in a Riyal.
  • Saudi Arabian notes are available in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 riyals
  • Saudi Arabia coins are available in denominations of 1 or 2 riyals and 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 halala.

Currency Exchanges and Banks in Saudi Arabia

Each bank in Saudi Arabia will offer currency exchange, and there are also currency exchanges at all the airports and even in some shopping malls.  While banking hours in Saudi Arabia are usually from 09:30 until 16:30 Saturday until Thursday, you may find some currency exchanges open until later.

Banks and exchanges will be closed on Fridays. (aside from some airport exchanges).

Paying For Things in Saudi Arabia

We took Ubers, used hotels, and bought drinks, some electronics, and food while we were in Saudi Arabia.  While we’d taken the time to take cash out at Jeddah International Airport, we only used it because we had it, not because we needed to.  And so our time in Saudi was spent paying for things in cash, on credit cards, on debit cards, and also on Paypal (which can be connected to an Uber account).

We found that ordering an Uber was the easiest way to get around.  We didn’t have long on our trip to Jeddah and so time was of the essence, and we used Uber to get around, rather than navigating the public transit system.  It was a surprise (although it shouldn’t have been) how far apart the places we wanted to go to were, and at 33 degrees it was more than a little too warm to be hiking around!

Using Credit Cards in Saudi Arabia

The use of cards in Saudi Arabia is widespread.  We chose to use a credit card when buying electronics (to provide ourselves with additional insurance coverage in case there was an issue).  We used both credit and debit cards when paying for meals with no problems at all.   Our debit card of choice is the card from Wise – (I wrote about that here).

Which Credit Cards are accepted in Saudi Arabia?

Visa, Mastercard, and American Express are accepted by many businesses.  Some of the smaller stores may levy a small surcharge for card payments.

Can I use digital payments in Saudi Arabia?

Some businesses will accept Apple Pay or Google Pay in Saudi Arabia, although we didn’t attempt this or use it ourselves.

Using Debit Cards in Saudi Arabia

While there’s a law in Saudi Arabia that all businesses are required to take cards, it might be that these are the domestic debit cards known as Mada cards.  However, we successfully used a debit card to pay for drinks, meals and attached to our Uber account.

Using Cash in Saudi Arabia

As I mentioned we’d taken cash out at the ATM at the airport arrival halls, not knowing if we needed cash.  It turns out that we could have done without it and just used cards (and PayPal) for our entire trip.  If we were to return we’d not take cash out.

Using Paypal in Saudi Arabia

Most of the places we wanted to visit on our Jeddah itinerary were quite some distance apart, and so – after our free transfer from the airport to the Crown Town Hotel – we used Uber to get around.  And I’ve also covered details on how to get back to the airport from Jeddah here. It’s not the only ride-sharing app in town here, you can also use Careem and Grab.  And as we had funds in our Paypal account we simply connected our Paypal to Uber and used the funds from there.  Easy!

Travel Tips for Saudi Arabia

Final Words on Paying, Using Cash & ATMs in Saudi Arabia

Getting around Saudi Arabia was easy without cash.  For our two full days in Jeddah, we didn’t actually need to use cash, but as we’d taken cash out at the ATMs at the international airport in Jeddah we used it in a number of places.  Next time we wouldn’t bother and would just use cards for accommodation and food and we’d continue to use the ride-sharing app, Uber for our transport.

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