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Money in Timor Leste: A Tourist Guide to ATMs, Cards and Exchange

If you’re one of the few traveling to Timor Leste, I’m here to answer all your money-related questions.

Everything about ATM withdrawals, currency exchange, and paying by card.

You will find out about the withdrawal fees, using Revolut or Wise, how much money you need for Timor Leste and the prices for common things.

This is the full guide to money in Timor Leste for tourists!

Currency in Timor Leste

The currency in Timor Leste is the US dollar with code USD.

That’s right, Timor Leste doesn’t have its own currency and uses the dollar for stability. When it became independent in 2002 it didn’t make economic sense to create a national currency so it just adopted USD.

That makes managing money in Timor Leste rather easy: just bring US dollars!

4 US dollar banknotes. The US dollar is the official money in Timor Leste
The US dollar is the official currency of Timor Leste

Timor Leste has unique coins though!

The coins are called “centavos” from the Portuguese word for 100. They are equivalent in value to the US cent and go from 1 to 200.

For example, 200 centavos equals 2 US dollars. Small-denomination US banknotes are not used due to their quick wear and tear.

Important: Old US banknotes (older than 2009) will not be accepted at all.

Can you use your card in Timor Leste?

Paying by card in Timor Leste is incredibly rare.

Using your foreign card to pay in Timor Leste is only possible in high-end hotels in Dili. And there are not that many of them. Everywhere else it’s cash, cash, cash.

Maybe this will change in the years to come as the country develops and tourism booms but for now, cash is king.

ATMs in Timor Leste

ATMs are few and far between in Timor Leste.

Even in the capital Dili, you may have to walk a considerable amount before you find an ATM.

In smaller cities like Baucau, Viqueque, Lospalos, and Same, there are usually only 1 or 2 ATMs.

BNTCL ATM
BNTCL is the most popular bank in Timor Leste

It is wise to withdraw money while you’re in Dili because there are limited options to get a hold of cash outside of the capital. Very limited.

The ATMs that exist accept ONLY Visa cards. Even Mastercards are rejected.

The maximum withdrawal amount on ATMs is 500$ per transaction and 2000$ daily.

Withdrawal Fees

Unfortunately, all banks in Timor Leste charge a withdrawal fee on their ATMs.

The withdrawal fee is fixed at 5$.

It’s best to withdraw as much as possible. If you withdraw 500$, the fee is only 1% which is bearable. The USD is the most convertible currency in the world so you won’t have to worry about spending it all.

I recommend you use BNCTL bank.

Exchanging Money in Timor Leste

Exchanging money in Timor Leste is not the easiest in the world due to the few exchange bureaus.

You can change money in Dili (Timor Plaza is my top pick) or near the border regions with Indonesia (only for Indonesian Rupiah, read more about money in Indonesia).

Not many currencies are accepted but you should be able to exchange these:

  • Euro
  • Indonesian Rupiah
  • Australian Dollar

Where to Exchange Money

There aren’t many places. The most popular ones with travelers are:

Even at Timor Plaza, expect ridiculously bad rates.

How much cash to bring to Timor Leste?

This depends on what activities you’ll partake in and your budget. I managed with less than 17 USD per day but I didn’t go diving, I hitchhiked and Couchsurfed. And that’s me – a budget backpacker.

It’s a good idea to budget 40-50$ / day excluding any adventurous activities.

Mie Ayam Bakso portion in Timor Leste
Mie Ayam bakso meal for only 2.25$!!!

Example prices

These are actual price ranges from 2023. They will probably increase by 5-10% in 2024.

  • Timorese espresso: 3-5$;
  • Fish curry (in warung): 2-5$;
  • Mie Ayam Bakso (in warung, curried chicken noodle soup with meatballs): 2-2.5$;
  • 1 chicken sate (chicken skewer; street food): 0.25 -0.5$ ;
  • Museums: 1$;
  • Microlet ride in Dili: 0.25$
  • Intercity bus/microlet travel: ~2$ per hour of travel;
  • Hostel (only in Dili): 15 – 20$; 
  • Guesthouses (in other cities; most not listed online): 15-50$;
  • Bungalow at Valu Beach: 25$;
  • Mid-range hotels – 30- 60$;
Valu Beach
Enjoying Valu Beach all for yourself – priceless (although sleeping there will set you back 25$)

See my budget report for Timor Leste for more details.

Bargaining

In most situations, you won’t have to bargain in Timor Leste.

The locals rarely bargain themselves.

The only place which is an exception is the traditional market. Even there though, be careful not to offend – the prices are already quite cheap anyway.

Tipping

Tipping is not customary in Timor Leste.

It’s not expected and it’s not common.

But if you think the service was good, of course, tip.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s answer some of your most burning questions about money in Timor Leste.

What is the ATM withdrawal limit in Timor Leste?

ATMs have a withdrawal limit between 300 and 500 USD per transaction and 1000-2000$ daily.

Can you use Revolut in Timor Leste?

Yes, Revolut works in Timor Leste but only Visa cards!

Then again, paying by card is incredibly rare and ATMs are sparse (plus they all charge a fee), so it may be a good idea to bring some cash.


If you are going to other Southeast Asian countries, you may want to read my money guides for them too:

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