From shells to bills
The official Maldivian currency is the Rufiyaa (ISO 4217 code MVR, symbol Rf.). It is divided into 100 Laari. In February 2015 we have ascertained an exchange rate of 1 USD to 15 MVR (+- 0.3) as bank rate. The price at street exchanges may differ most likely. The exchange rate is controlled by the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) and is usually linked to the current economical situation. The word Rufiyaa originates from the Hindi word Rupiyaa (रुपया) which itself is derived from the Sanskrit word Rupya (रूप्य; wrought silver).
The Rufiyaa is in circulation in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500 MVR
The Rufiyaa is not traded internationally traded and only given out and bought back by Maldivian banks. This
results in a strong affinity towards the US Dollar. The USD is generally accepted everywhere within the Maldives yet travellers
are advised to keep an eye on the exchange rates.
Historically money has had very different forms in the Maldives. At least until the 13th century the local have traded with cowry shells which were slowly abondoned for silver. These were folded straps with Arabic and Persian inscriptions which in turn gave way to coins which were minted in the Maldives. The first coins have been minted from pure silver in the middle of the 16th century under the rule of Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar. About 120 years later the silver coins were replaced by gold coins during the reign of Sultan Hassan Nooruddin. In the early 19th century then machine struck bronze coins came into circulation and finally in 1947 the first paper banknotes.
Bear in mind you're travelling an island nation
When considering a holiday in the Maldives money is certainly a thing that will cross your mind. Even though it is
possible to have a vacation on a budget, the availability of money can turn out to be a problem.
ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) are not as widely available as in other tourist areas. You will find an abundance of them at the airports and in the capital Male yet almost none throughout the country. Should a resort have access to an ATM we do mention this in our resort listings (to our best knowledge).
If you are limited in the withdrawal sum as most British people are (British banks mostly have a limit of 300-350£ cash withdrawals per day) you may encounter problems. Credit cards and Traveller checks are sadly no substitute to cash and are only accepted in a few locations (also mostly around the airport).
As a precaution it is advised to pay as much as you can before you enter the Maldives like your resort reservation and optional transfers if not included in your booking.
However, even though the availability of money can become an obstacle it is still possible to spend a holiday in the Maldives below the legal requirement of 150 USD per day. Note that customs may require you to disclose your funds on entering the country. If you do not have a booking for one of the Maldivian resorts the authorities demand you to have 150 USD for every day of your intended stay available.