The currency used is the CFA franc.
Fixed rate (rounded): 100 F.CFA = 0.15 €, 1 € = 656 F.CFA.
The CFA franc will be replaced by the eco on 1 July 2020.
Cash can be easily changed at the reception desk of some hotels and in banks such as Ora Bank and Ecobank (present in most cities). The use of the Visa card is becoming more and more widespread, and ATMs are starting to flourish in almost all cities. Do not expect to use MasterCard too much except at Atlantic Bank. Changing traveller’s cheques isn’t easy either.
Note that Ecobank is the correspondent of Crédit Lyonnais, CCF and Belgolaise. SGBBE (Société Générale de banques au Bénin), with its two branches in Cotonou, is the correspondent of Société Générale.
Benin is slightly more expensive than other West African countries, especially in terms of accommodation, which is often of much lower quality. It is felt that here, apart from tourist places, the hotel industry is primarily for the use of commercial or business travellers – of all kinds – and “ephemeral appointments”: often limited maintenance, beds and mattresses out of breath, a slightly gloomy, even gloomy atmosphere…
However, it’s getting better, and on our last trip, we found some very nice addresses!
The rates indicated below correspond to those of a double room with private bathroom (it is obviously more expensive in Cotonou). Except exception mentioned in the text, breakfast is never included.
- Cheap: less than 8,000 F.CFA (12.30 €).
- Average prices: 8 000-12 000 F.CFA (12.30 to 18.30 €).
- More chic: 12 000-20 000 F.CFA (18,30-30,50 €).
- Very cheap: less than 1 000 F.CFA (1.50 €) per meal.
- Cheap: 1 000-3 500 F.CFA (1,50-5,30 €).
- Average prices: 3 500-6 000 F.CFA (5,30-9,20 €).
- More chic: over 6 000 F.CFA (9,20 €).
Shopping & Bargaining
An object at 1 000 F.CFA (1.50 €) can be sold in 10 minutes, but beyond 10 000 F.CFA (15.20 €), do not hesitate to spend an extra hour.
- Prefer small denominations, less tempting.
- Don’t forget that many traders are superstitious. Get up early! Indeed, if you are the first customer, the salesman will be much more indulgent, because it is an omen that will allow him to have a good day.
- The basic principle is not to let your interest in a trinket be perceived. Ask for the price of the object you are interested in and of neighbouring objects with the same detached air, that is, by looking at something else. Observe women at the market, it’s instructive!
- Another principle is to never say your price first.
- Then haggle from much lower than the advertised price. In a market, a bazaar, divide the initial price by two, three, take out at least 20% and look elsewhere. Either way, start with small purchases to test the waters. Don’t hesitate to tell your life story (even add to it).