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

Let me guess: You are traveling to Uzbekistan and want to know if you can use your foreign debit card to pay or withdraw from an ATM.

Or maybe you’ve heard that you need crisp new US dollar bills and exchange them at the black market on the street for Uzbek Som? (Nope, these days are gone!)

Or you’re just looking for those nice ATMs that don’t charge a commission for withdrawals? (Very rare, but they exist!) Asking yourself if you can use Revolut in Uzbekistan? (Yes, you can!)

You’ve come to the right place to learn all about money in Uzbekistan as a tourist!

Currency in Uzbekistan

The currency in Uzbekistan is the Uzbek So’m with code UZS.

Persistent inflation in the country since its independence in 1991 has meant continuous devaluation of the currency. The largest denomination is 200.000 UZS (~17$) and nobody uses any coins. I didn’t see a single coin while in Uzbekistan.

The 10000 Som banknote with Kukeldash Madrasah in Tashkent

The most common banknotes are the 2.000, 10.000, and 20.000. Due to the recent introduction of the 200.000 notes, most Uzbeks haven’t seen one.

I had more than a few suspicious stares when I paid with this banknote. Nonetheless, it never got rejected.

Can you use you use your card in Uzbekistan?

Yes, you can use your foreign card to pay while in Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan is opening up to the world. Ever since the death of the former president dictator Karimov in 2016, Uzbekistan has been looking to attract more tourists and make it easy for them to spend money in the country. Today, Uzbekistan is indeed a very safe country.

Bigger hotels, bigger supermarkets, some museums, and other establishments accept payment by foreign cards.

However, most still charge 1% to 3% commission even if you pay on a POS terminal.

Smaller supermarkets, traditional open-air markets, family-run guesthouses, etc. of course still only accept cash. Who’s to blame them?

Visa and Mastercard cards on a table
Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Uzbekistan

Visa and Mastercard are accepted on most POS terminals. Maestro is accepted, but not as widely as Visa. AMEX cards are mostly NOT accepted though.

ATMs in Uzbekistan

ATMs were virtually non-existent in Uzbekistan 10 years ago. Today, they are popping up like mushrooms everywhere in Tashkent and Samarkand and tourist hotspots like Bukhara and Khiva.

Even in Nukus, your gateway to the Ship Graveyard in the Dead Aral Sea, there’s no shortage of ATMs from different banks.

There are plenty of ATMs in cities in the Fergana Valley too.

The ATM is a reliable way to get a hold of money in Uzbekistan
Even fancy ATMs exist today!

Most ATMs will accept Visa cards and Maestro cards. Some will accept Mastercard. Almost no ATMs accept American Express.

The maximum withdrawal amount on most ATMs is 2 million UZS, some up to 3 million.

Withdrawal Fees

Here comes the tricky part – avoiding those pesky ATM withdrawal fees. I’m not talking about the fees you get charged on your end from your bank – those you can avoid by using a FinTech solution like Revolut, Curve, or Monese.

Unfortunately, most ATMs in Uzbekistan charge a withdrawal fee between 1% and 3%. The most common fee is in the amount of 1.5%.

ATMs without withdrawal fees

The ATM you want to use to avoid withdrawal fees is Trastbank. This is the ONLY ATM without a withdrawal fee in Uzbekistan as of 2024.

And yes, I did try over 10 different banks, including O’zmilliybank, Xalq Banki, Agrobank, Turkiston Bank, Davr Bank, HamkorBank, and the Turkish Ziraat Bank which otherwise charges 0 withdrawal fees in Turkey.

Dolphin logo of Trastbank - the best ATMs to withdraw money in Uzbekistan
Look for this Dolphin Logo of Trastbank

What I found out is that Trastbank’s ATMs are kind of rare, so if you see one, withdraw as much as you think you’ll need for the next few days. You can find them on Google Maps.

ATMs that dispense USD

It used to be possible to withdraw USD from Uzbek ATMs and then exchange USD for UZS on the street to get the best deal.

Ever since 2017 when the Uzbek Som was unpegged from the Dollar and started floating freely, the need for a black market disappeared (see below) and ATMs that dispense USD quickly got removed.

Today, there are no more ATMs that dispense USD in Uzbekistan.

If you need to get a hold of USD (say you will be traveling to other Central Asian countries and need some exchangeable cash) you will have to withdraw UZS, then go to a bank and exchange to USD.

Exchanging Money in Uzbekistan

To be frank, you don’t need to exchange money in Uzbekistan because paying by card and withdrawing UZS from an ATM are both widespread and reliable enough.

But if you want to be safe, here’s what you need to know about exchanging money in Uzbekistan.

What currency to bring

As with almost any country in the world right now, the US dollar is king.

Other currencies that are traded and exchangeable in Uzbekistan (in order of ease of exchange) are:

  • Euro;
  • Russian Rouble;
  • Kazakh Tenge;
  • British Pounds;
  • Swiss Francs;
  • Japanese Yen;
  • Chinese Yuan.

For other currencies, you may be able to exchange to UZS in Tashkent and Samarkand. Still, I think it’s wise to carry USD when traveling, just to be prepared.

The black market is dead

Before 2017, the UZS was officially pegged to the dollar at 4210 UZS for 1$. However, the real rate was at least double that, which meant the black market was where you wanted to exchange money for good value.

You’d have had to go near the market and ask around to find a shady dude on the street, who’d whip open a massive box of Uzbek cash (back then the biggest banknote was 10.000 UZS, equivalent to around 2.5 dollars officially and around 1$ unofficially) and take your pristine USD bills.

It was very illegal and yet everyone did it. Also, everyone walked around with large piles of cash (100$ was at least 100 banknotes, sometimes more) and the Uzbeks were known as the fastest cash counters in the world.

A stack of 1000 UZS notes
Imagine having to carry a backpack just for money! This fat stack of 1000 UZS bills is worth no more than 65$!

Those days are gone! After 2017 the Uzbek som was unpegged and allowed to float freely on the currency market, including the USD. That removed the need for a black market and today you won’t find dodgy guys exchanging money on the street.

Long story short – no black market exists anymore, exchange your money in a bank or an exchange bureau.

Exchanging at a bank

Exchanging money in a bank in Uzbekistan is pretty straightforward and not any different than anywhere else in the world. Mind these points:

  • Bring your passport with you;
  • Your foreign currency banknotes must be clean, crisp, and have no signs of wear or tear;
  • Banks’ opening times are 09:00 to 17:00, shorter on Saturdays, closed on Sundays;
  • You can exchange money at the airport, but will face a little lower exchange rate;
  • Officially you cannot exchange money at the border. In reality, there will always be 1 or 2 guys that will offer you some rate to exchange Kazakh Tenge, Kyrgyz Som, Tajik Somoni, USD, or Euro;

Exchanging using a money exchange machine

Next to some proper ATMs, you will find automatic money exchange machines. They only take US dollars.

The way it works is straightforward.

  1. You will be shown an exchange rate that is a little lower than the one in the banks;
  2. Insert a US dollar note. The accepted notes are 5, 10, 20, 50, 100;
  3. Take your UZS notes from the machine.
A currency exchange machine in Uzbekistan
Look for the “AvtoVASH” logo – that means it’s a currency exchange machine.

These exchange machines are open 24/7 and are a good substitute for the bank if you urgently need cash on a Sunday.

Another benefit is that they are more likely to accept your worn-out notes or notes with small crumples or cuts. In a bank, these will either be refused or exchanged at a lower rate.

Pro Tips and Common Scams

I’ve made this list of tips from my journey to Uzbekistan so you don’t fall victim to some of the most common money scams.

  • Mentally ignore the last 3 zeroes to make calculations easier. 50.000 is just 50k, 20.000 is 20k.
  • Know the multiple of your currency. Say you use US dollars and 10.000 UZS is 0.8$. Your multiple is 8. If the price of something is 30.000 UZS, ignore the zeroes, multiply by 8 and you have 24, i.e. 2.4$; Quick maths: 160k UZS? -> 1.6*8 =12.8 USD.
  • 5k and 100k are in a similar shade. Be careful!;
  • Always ask taxis to switch on the meter OR use Yandex Go;
  • Never let anyone help you with an ATM, no matter how friendly they are! They will scan your card with a skimmer!;
  • Don’t let locals help you “clean up” something on your jacket – they might be trying to pickpocket you.
  • Be very wary of locals giving you their camera and asking for pictures. When you give it back they may claim you broke it and demand money.

How much cash to bring to Uzbekistan?

This depends on your needs, of course. Since using your card in Uzbekistan nowadays is pretty easy to both pay and withdraw cash, you don’t need to bring as much foreign currency as cash inside the country.

My advice is to have at least 200$ just in case something goes wrong with your bank cards and you need emergency cash until you sort it out.

When I went to Uzbekistan I had exactly that much stashed away but since I exclusively used my Revolut and Curve cards, I didn’t have to exchange a single time.

On the other hand, if you’re wondering how much money you need to travel to Uzbekistan, you can check out my backpacker’s budget report for Uzbekistan.

Example prices

Here are price ranges for some popular purchases in Uzbekistan. Prices are from 2023 in Uzbek Som. You can expect these to increase by 5-10% in 2024.

  • 2 meatballs in a piece of bread: 10 – 20k;
  • Plov meal: 40 – 70k;
  • Bottled water (0.5L): 3 – 5k;
  • Can of beer (supermarket): 10 -15k;
  • 100 g. black raisins: 8k;
  • Museums: 30 – 100k;
  • Metro ticket in Tashkent: 8k
  • Budget hostel: 80 – 150k (usually breakfast included);
  • Mid-range hotels – 200 – 500k;
  • Train travel (Sharq, 2nd class): ~15k per hour of travel
  • Train travel (Afrosiyob, 2nd class): ~35k per hour of travel
The sign on a train from Kungrad to Tashkent in Uzbekistan
Kungrad to Tashkent, 21-hour journey for 230k UZS

Bargaining

Bargaining is part of Uzbek culture.

You’re expected to bargain everywhere that prices are not listed.

At touristic places, even with listed places, you can bargain. Prices are inflated for tourists (2-3 times) and you can get a discount with some friendly haggle.

A good rule of thumb is to always counter the initial offer with 50% of it. You can then expect to meet the vendor somewhere in the middle at 65-80% of the original asking price.

meat and cheese in Chorsu Bazaar
Produce at Chorsu Bazaar. Most prices here are fixed, so no bargaining.

Tipping

Tipping is not customary in Uzbekistan.

Local Uzbeks don’t tip. If you feel the service was good and you tip, it will be appreciated but it’s not expected. If there’s a service fee, a tip is unnecessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s answer some of the internet’s (and most certainly your) most burning questions about money in Uzbekistan.

What is the ATM withdrawal limit in Uzbekistan?

The maximum withdrawal limit on most ATMs in Uzbekistan is 3,000,000 UZS (246$).

Not all ATMs have this limit, some have a limit lower than that.

Where to exchange money in Uzbekistan?

You can exchange money in various places:

  • At the airport just after you arrive. All international airports have change bureaus, although their rates are bad compared to the city;
  • At a land border. Look for exchange bureaus just before or just after land borders with neighboring countries;
  • At a change bureau in the city (probably the best rates);
  • At a bank;
  • At a dodgy-looking guy at the corner of a bazaar (please don’t).

Can you use US dollars in Uzbekistan?

You can use US dollars to pay for things in Uzbekistan but it’s extremely rare. Even in the tourist hotspot Samarkand, I never saw any prices advertised in USD.

However, the US dollar is easily exchanged for local Uzbek S’om.

Can you use Revolut in Uzbekistan?

Yes, Revolut cards work in Uzbekistan. Both VISA and Mastercard work. Similar fintech apps like Wise, Monese, and Curve also work there.


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

8 Comments

  1. Nacho Rodriguez says:

    Hey Simon, thanks for the useful info.
    Sadly, I tried today 8th of May 2024 to withdraw money in Trastbank, in Ferganá city, and they charge a 1.5% extra commission as well.

    1. Oh, that’s so unfortunate! I guess they’ve started charging too! Please let me know if you come across any ATMs without an access fee so I can update the article and help other travelers.

      -S.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you, that was helpful!

  3. Anonymous says:

    As of April 2024, Trast Bank also charges 1.5% on foreign card withdrawals.

    1. Eh, well, it was good while it lasted. If Trastbank charges now, then there are no longer any ATMs without withdrawal fees in Uzbekistan. 🙁

  4. I tried to get some UZS before leaving for Uzbekistan but no bank or exchange business like Oanda or Xe has them.
    So I’ll have to get UZS when I get there.
    Thanks for your posting here. Very helpful.

    1. UZS is a closed currency – you won’t be able to exchange it outside of Uzbekistan (except for border towns in the other -stans) and you won’t be able to buy it abroad either.
      Bottom line: never buy foreign currency in your own country – the rate is always lower than in the country of the currency!

  5. This is VERY helpful, thank you!

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