Carrying too much cash around is often a major concern for travelers. Not only are there risks of losing it, but being constantly on the move often leads to Murphy's Law at some point or another. This is especially true when coming to Iran because the American financial embargo means "Cash is King," so international bank cards don't work here. However there is now a convenient and secure solution, Tourist Cards and Gift Cards issued by the largest Iranian Banks.
The Bank Melli Iran Tourist Card is a transaction card in Iranian Rials issued for tourists while traveling in Iran. The card avoids the need to carry large sums of cash, and can be used throughout Iran's major banking network.
How to Purchase Iran Bank Tourist Cards and Why?
1) The Tourist Card is available for all foreign travellers coming to Iran.
2) The Tourist Card can be purchased at Imam Khomeini International Airport's Melli Bank branch (24/7), however, this service is going to be expanded to four other cities in the near future (Isfahan, Shiraz, Mashhad and Tabriz).
3) To purchase the Tourist Card, you must present a valid visa and your passport.
4) Cash is deposited onto the card with a designated expiry date based on the travellers' itinerary - IRR and foreign currencies are accepted.
5) There are in excess of 50,000 Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) around the country from which more than 10,000 are Bank Melli ATMs.
6) With the Melli Iran Tourist Card travellers can easily book online tickets such as domestic flights (Iran Air, Mahan Air), Buses and Raja train tickets, and book hotels and tours right here on sfiran.com.
A Tourist Card is given to clients with exclusive passwords. There are two passwords for each card. The first password is used to buy with POS transactions, withdrawing cash from ATMs, and the second password is used for internet purchases. However, both passwords can be changed by the card holder at any time.
There are both Tourist cards and gift cards in Iran. The Tourist cards require more personal information and more time to register, in return tourist cards record more transaction data and have more customer functionality. However gift cards require less information and you can buy them in cash from almost every bank branch across Iran, however security and functionality is more limited. Gift card are sold in different value benchmarks, and similar to Tourist Cards money can not be transferred to them electronically.
You can purchase gift cards in almost every bank that you want, whether that be at airports or city branches. Almost all the banks in Tehran offer gift cards, however a limited number of banks in small cities sell gift card services.
The only real advantages of buying Gift Cards instead of Tourist Cards is to save time on the purchase, plus it offers more flexibility buying from local bank branches. Otherwise the Tourist Card offers higher storage limits, more security, and better accounting.
Keep in mind that Tourists Cards and Gift Cards are made for different customer needs, so ultimately you should decide which is more convenient for your banking requirements while traveling in Iran. Still undecided? You can always discuss the options with the bank at the airport before you purchase. Just remember Melli Bank at the airport can assist you in English if you have any further questions.
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