Money in Israel
Students often ask how much money they should bring with them to Israel. The answer to this question depends on how much each individual plans to spend (souvenirs, food, travel, etc). It is more important to have access to funds as needs arise, and there are plenty of accessible ATMs and money changers in Israel.
Therefore, incoming students should bring a credit and/or debit card, preferably cards that do not take international fees. We recommend that you do not change money into New Israeli Shekels (NIS) before arriving in Israel because you will do so at a very poor exchange rate. Here are some money hints:
- Banks and moneychangers in Israel, with very rare exception, will not accept personal checks drawn on US accounts.
- You may use debit cards from your bank in your home country to withdraw cash (in shekels) at ATMs in Jerusalem. Exchange rates will vary from bank to bank and even from branch to branch. There are usually options for you to display ATM screens in English.
- Be sure to check with your bank for withdrawal limits and fees and to put a travel notification on all credit and debit cards to avoid your card being canceled.
- If you will be doing volunteer-stipend work on campus, you will be paid in shekels at the end of each month during the semester. Most students use this pay as spending money, but it does not replace what they should bring.
- You may want (or need) to spend money on the following items: textbooks, a student membership at the local YMCA (approximately $100 per month), phone plans, doctor’s visits, souvenirs, snacks and eating out, transportation, etc.
- Be cautious about where you use your debit or credit cards, and never let a store worker walk out of your sight with one of your cards. Some small shops in the Old City are sometimes clever about the way they ring up purchases. Ask for receipts and double check them after each purchase. We will help you better understand where you should and shouldn’t use cards during orientation.
Where to Exchange Money
It is not possible to exchange money on our campus, but students can use an authorized moneychanger in the Old City. If you have cash to exchange, we will suggest a moneychanger who has proven to be quite reliable for our students for decades.
For students bringing a debit card, there are plenty of ATMs in Jerusalem where you can withdraw cash with only a 6 shekel fee (=$1.90). Cash will be disbursed in shekels.