There are more than 20 Banks in Iran providing financial services to the 80 million population of the country. Nearly ten years ago you must’ve had cash with you everywhere but according to the high demands of the young generation and the competition among banks, everything is getting online today and you can find many available payment methods in Iran.
During the last four years, more than 20 million people have visited Iran as a tourist. But the question is if you’re visiting Iran, how should you handle your payments easier? Is carrying cash the best solution or there may be some other better choices?
If you take a look at Iranian’s wallets you surely see plenty of Plastic debit cards each for a specific bank. The statics reveal 92% debit card access among Iranians and there are more than 15 thousand online portals and 4 million POS terminals which takes 97% of all total transactions within the country. (Known as Shetab Network) So if you want to be comfortable in managing payments everywhere, it’s better to have one with yourself. But how?
The first method is to step into one of the foreign exchange branches of the banks (called in Persian “Arzi”) and ask for a gift card. after checking your passport, they’ll hand you over a plastic gift card with the maximum amount of 5.000.000 Rials (approximately 125 US dollars or 105 Euros). Now you can pay with this Card in any grocery store, restaurant, hotel, museum and etc. You can also set your second password from the same bank’s ATM and start using online payment services in Iran.
Note: Not all the banks support issuing gift cards for foreigners. So, first of all, ask the bank to see if they’ve got such services.
The Second and easier choice is to ask for a Mah Card. Mah Card is a growing startup company in Tehran which provides prepaid Iranian Debit Cards for international travelers in any requested amount. Using Mah Card; you won’t need to visit any bank and you’ll get your debit card right in your hotel room. (or any other place you ask). You can also use Mah Card for online payments.
When you register your Mah Card, card insurance protects you from unauthorized purchases if your card is lost or stolen. You will also get a replacement card in case of a lost or stolen card. You can’t say that about cash.
In recent years the number of startups has been growing exponentially in Iran, especially in major cities like Tehran, Tabriz, Mashhad, Shiraz, and Isfahan. As an example, you can take an online taxi in all these cities which is safer and cheaper or you can order your meal from many traditional and modern online restaurants and receive it wherever you are.
So if you’re visiting Iran get ready to start paying online for your Taxi, Internet, Food, hotel reservation, transportation, experiencing art events and etc.
While we suggest transmitting your money into temporary debit cards to be easy and safe, we won’t suggest making your pocket empty of any cash money.
you’ll need cash when using public transportation because they just accept cash money or electronic cards. and also you’ll need cash in smaller cities and on the roads which you’ll usually face a lack of good internet connection.
While VISA, Mastercard, Paypal, and others are providing innovative payment methods all around the world; unfortunately you’ll not be able to use these payment methods in Iran. But there are some cool Fintech startups which are growing and you can use them as an alternative for cash. as an instance, if you’re planning to stay more in Tehran, Phone Pay can help you in paying for taxies which operate using a QR code. You’ll charge your mobile wallet once and start paying by taking the camera in front of the QR code stuck to the taxi window.
If you’re planning to visit Iran you won’t face many challenges in payment issues. You can handle it by carrying some cash and getting a debit card for your major and online payments. So pack it and start your adventure to the land of history and art.
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