International banking services are well-supported in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan uses the tenge, and this is the currency used in daily life. Only large sums of money, such as for buying a house or car, will be asked for in US$. If you are wondering how much money you need to travel in Kazakhstan, check out the travel budget page.
Cash withdrawal from ATM/Bankomat
ATM’s (bankomat in Russian) are found on every major street in big cities. You can withdraw money with Visa, Mastercard or Maestro. The occasional refusal of your card is to be expected, but most ATM’s accept a wide range of foreign bank cards. In smaller towns, there probably will not be an ATM available for cash withdrawal.
Most cash dispensers only give out money in tenge, but some also stock dollars. Check the websites of BTA bank (in English) and Kazkom (in Russian), and look in the currency column for dollar to see the location of dollar-stocked ATM’s.
Currency exchange Kazakhstan
Currency exchange in Kazakhstan can be found on every street corner. Rates are competitive, once you leave the airport or train station. Main currencies that are traded with tenge are US dollar, Euro, British pound, Russian rouble, Kyrgyz som and Chinese yuan.
Money that will be impossible to get rid of is Uzbek som, Tajik somoni or Mongolian tugrik. Travellers’ cheques are not commonly accepted in Kazakhstan.
A word of warning
The only constant is change, a wise man once proclaimed. I would like to paraphrase that: In Kazakhstan, the only constant is a lack of change. And by that I mean, coins (there’s plenty of other change).
Guard them jealously, your pieces of 10, 20, 50 and 100 tenge. You need them for the bus, the roadside snack and the poor pensioner on the street corner. Don’t come waving with a 10 000 tenge bill, you will be met with an incredulous smile, or at best, a sigh.
Good places to break this type of big money are large supermarkets, the metro or train station, or a fancy coffee place. If you want change for the bus in a small kiosk, you will need to buy something in most cases.
Money transfers and banking
Sending or receiving an international money transfer in Kazakhstan is not a problem; all major providers are present in the country. All cities offer the opportunity to send or receive money through large international banks cooperating with local banks.