The Kenya currency unit is the Shilling (KSH), divided in 100 cents. The Kenyan shilling has been quite stable over the years. One US dollar equals about 85 Kenyan shillings, one Euro is approximately 115 shillings, and 1 British pound is about 135 shillings.
Although many major currencies are accepted in Nairobi and Mombasa, the US dollar remains the most accepted foreign currency in Kenya.
Safari hotels and the more up market hotels and restaurants will prefer you to pay in US dollars or Euros instead of Kenyan currency. The US Dollar, in fact, is quickly replacing the Euro as the standard unit in which prices for tourists are quoted – especially at the Coast.
TIP: When getting your Visa on arrival at the Airport, you can only pay for this with US dollars or British pounds. Currency can be changed there at the counter.
Almost all Kenyan Banks now have ATMs, but their usefulness to International travelers varies as some accept only a limited type of cards. Barclays Bank is the best option, because their ATMs (which cover most Kenyan towns) accept Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus and Plus bank cards. The ATMs of Kenya Commercial Bank (another major bank) accept only Visa cards. Bear in mind that sometimes International Data Networks are down and the ATMs cannot be used to withdraw money from your foreign account. Some ATMs (e.g. at the airport) also give out US dollars, UK pounds or Euros.
Visa and MasterCard Credit Cards are widely accepted in Kenya. Other credit cards much less so. Many shops and restaurants use manual systems as automatic dial-up systems for credit card transactions are not available in all areas yet. It is advisable to only use your credit card in more up-market places.
Cash Exchanges For Kenya Currency
Changing cash for Kenya currency is easy if you have US dollars, UK pounds or Euros. The best places to change cash are at the Bureau d’Exchange (Foreign exchange) or ‘Forex’ bureaus found everywhere in the country. Majority of them do not charge commission. Currency can also be changed at Banks and may charge commission on top of the current exchange rate.
Travellers Cheques are the easiest to cash if they are in US dollars, UK pounds or Euros, however high commissions may be charged and, with banks, a fee per cheque is common.
TIP: Travelers are better off having Internationally accepted bank cards, a Visa or MasterCard credit card and some US dollars in cash with you at all times.