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Exchanging US dollars at NBO airport

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Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
39 posts
Exchanging US dollars at NBO airport

I am looking for the best way to exchange $2000 of US dollars to Kenyan shillings.

The reason for the high dollar amount is because I started a fundraiser to raise money for a poor family in Kenya. We will be building them a home and buying them additional things such as food, cooking supplies, etc. These things need to be bought in shillings.

So where would be the best place to exchange that money? We arrive at the Nairobi airport at 2:30 in the morning. Will the exchange counter be open? Is there a maximum amount of funds that can be exchanged?

Do ATM machines have a maximum amount for withdrawls?

Leaving in 10 days!

manchester, United...
Level Contributor
1,067 posts
62 reviews
1. Re: Exchanging US dollars at NBO airport

Why don't you change at home. I regularly bring in excess of this for use on projects but wouldn't want the hassle of getting it changed in Kenya. Just not worth the time and bother. The limits on ATMs are 20,000 - 40,000 ksh. I'm sure you could get the money changed over there and, if you have contacts that can negotiate with local money-dealers you'd probably get a better exchange rate locally.

On another tack - have you got local contacts that are dealing with the building project. They will get much better deals than you can as a visitor. That's true for just about anything you buy there too.

Newcastle upon...
Level Contributor
1,404 posts
35 reviews
2. Re: Exchanging US dollars at NBO airport

If you going into Nairobi itself then there are many exchange booths with the rates displayed outside them.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
39 posts
3. Re: Exchanging US dollars at NBO airport

Thank you Val H.

I have been having a challenge finding a place at home that will exchange for Kenyan shillings. We are departing from Chicago O'Hare airport and they already advised that they do not exchange for shillings.

It does not sound like an ATM will work, because we will need much more than you are allowed to pull out.

Yes, we do have some local contacts for the project that we will be working on, so I am hoping we can get good deals. Thank you for offering that suggestion!

Level Contributor
14,023 posts
4. Re: Exchanging US dollars at NBO airport

An ATM won't give you sufficient funds on a single withdrawal; best to use a Forex/currency Exchange at airport. These are open as long as flights are arriving.

First though check before departing home one of those Currency Exchange sites what the present exchange rate USD/KSH, and though the official bank rate, yours will usually be somewhat less, but at least you haven't walked in blind. You'll have idea of what they're offering in Kenya is good (more than likely will be)

Whether you will for other purchases once in KEN be using your credit or ATM cards, be sure to notify your bank/s at home of your expected travel and dates you'll be our of US (I always give them 1-2/days later on the return in case of flight delays and you have need of your plastic at airport/hotels/meals in Europe during transfer/layover).

Good luck.

Nairobi, Kenya
Destination Expert
for Nairobi, Kenya
Level Contributor
3,068 posts
14 reviews
5. Re: Exchanging US dollars at NBO airport

You'd get the best rate in a FX Bureau in town.

If you're passing thro town on your way to final destination, worthwhile to pop into a local FX bureau.

Nairobi, Kenya
Destination Expert
for Kenya
Level Contributor
2,370 posts
160 reviews
6. Re: Exchanging US dollars at NBO airport

Where will you be staying, and where will you be using the funds?

you don't want to be barring huge amounts of cash with you, as it can be a security risk.

US$2000 is approx. Kshs 160 - 170,000. It ATMS's restrict daily withdrawals to Kshs 40,000, that is 4 days of withdrawals. Also major stores like Nakumatt take Visa cards.

Just think about security and theft.

Level Contributor
14,023 posts
7. Re: Exchanging US dollars at NBO airport

Agree with RWA, probably a better rate at a Forex in the city than if at airport.

Get envelopes to distribute the KSH between a few of these (do so while still inside the Forex) and secure deep in your bag in separate areas. This way if someone tries to get into your bag, this person won't get all you have.

Level Contributor
119 posts
1 review
8. Re: Exchanging US dollars at NBO airport

not sure about carrying money in Handbag in kenya , Better to have money belt,.

9. Re: Exchanging US dollars at NBO airport

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