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Cash vs. Plastic?

Hello everyone! We are leaving for Iceland in two weeks and are finalizing our plans. I read (much to my surprise) in Rick's guide that credit card is the preferred payment over cash. So as we get things in order, my question is: Do we need any cash for Iceland? And if so, how much would be a good amount to withdraw? For context, we will be there for 5 nights, 5 days. Staying in South Iceland near Selfoss for 3 nights, Reyjkavik for 2 nights. We will have a rental car. I always like to be prepared for emergencies and having some cash on hand seems like a smart idea, but am just concerned about being able to use it all up...Thanks in advance for your time and consideration!

Posted by
70 posts

We were there 2 weeks back with a very similar schedule to yours. While I kept some emergency cash in ISK most of it I did not use & had to again reconvert at the airport. So carry minuscule quantity of cash - I would say in the range of 10K - 15K ISK to spend on ice creams or sandwiches etc. That too you may not end up using.

Posted by
10703 posts

You might get something out of this post. Then again, maybe not.... https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/hungary/now-confused-about-money-exchange
I only spent 4 days in Iceland, but it was pretty amazing. One of my best memories was having the best $25 hamburger in my life. Actually the only $25 hamburger in my life. Iceland made the UK look cheap. We were there in July and spent most of our time on the north coast watching whales. Maybe the south is cheaper.... naaaaaa it isnt....

Posted by
2000 posts

5 days there in May, never got cash, never needed it. Even for a hot dog. Everyone will take a credit card.

Posted by
8497 posts

I have been to Iceland a few times. On my first visit I got cash from the ATM at Keflavik airport. I still have it.

Posted by
854 posts

I just finished reading the RS Iceland book, and he mentions needing cash for pay toilets and parking meters. Did anyone come across that near Reykjavik, South Coast, Blue Lagoon, or Golden Circle?

Posted by
70 posts

Parking meters in Reykjavik - yes, one day I had to put in cash for that. Did not come across pay toilets.

Posted by
185 posts

I'm just finishing up 10 days in Reykjavík.

Personally I always travel with some cash as you never know when you'll be caught out. The minimum amount that my bank will sell is $200 worth of foreign currency, so I brought with me kr.25000. This was all of the cash that I used over the entirety of my week and a half.

You'll find that card use is pretty ubiquitous -- there's really no issue. Anyone strictly using cards and getting a little cash when necessary from an ATM should be fine.

Where I found cash to came in handy were the couple times a network was down or wasn't available. When I went to visit the tower at Hallgrimskirkja their card reader kept dropping its connection. And at that moment cash was king. There were a few places that the toilets were a pay toilet, such as at Reynisfjara near Vik, the Black Beach Restaurant has pay toilets (especially if you were not making a restaurant purchase).

Again, I'm perfectly content to travel with some cash. Personally the $200/kr25000 I brought was to insure I had enough money on hand until any issue was fixed that might have crept up, without being too much. And that's the way I personally travel -- your mileage may vary.