Romanian Currency

If you ever plan on visiting Romania, it might help to know a bit about the currency. Since I’m from the States, I’ll compare Romanian lei (singular: leu) banknotes to US dollar bills. There are three main differences between the two that I have listed below.

Romanian banknotes

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1) Size & Texture

Like euro banknotes, Romanian lei vary in sizes. On the other hand, US dollars are all the same size. US dollars are also made of cotton and linen, whereas Romanian lei are made from polymer, which is like plastic.

2) Visual Appearance
Romanian banknotes are very colorful compared to US bills. Check out this Wikipedia entry to see different versions of the Romanian leu over the past century.
Back in 1999, Romania had a special banknote made to celebrate the total solar eclipse that passed over the country that year (see below). Although this banknote is no longer in circulation, a friend of mine who visited Romania when it was still recognized gave me one. I’m very glad to have it! I love how colorful it is.

solar eclipse banknote

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3) Value & Denominations
Currently, 1 US dollar is equal to about 3 Romanian lei. If you’re using an online currency converter such as XE or Oanda, look for RON (Romanian New Leu).
Romanian banknotes also come in the following denominations: 1 leu, 5, 10, 50, and 100 lei. 200 and 500 lei banknotes also exist but are rarely used.

Coins are also used in Romania, and they are called bani (singular: ban). There are 1 ban, 5, 10, and 50 bani coins. 100 bani is equal to 1 leu, just like 100 pennies is equal to 1 dollar.


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So now you’re a little more prepared to visit Romania! Don’t worry, it’s not hard to figure out once you get there. 😉


6 thoughts on “Romanian Currency

  1. I was really surprised just how easy it was to use the Romanian money. I still have some lei and bani from my last trip. The only slightly frustrating thing was that they expect you to give them the exact amount. I offended many clerks by making them go through the effort of making change.

      • While visiting Bucharest I actually got some bakery free because I tried paying with a large bill. They were pretty upset with me and forced me to take it for free. I tried to offer them all the money without expecting any change, but they wouldn’t have it. It was such a classic Romanian experience. Then I felt guilty as a ate the bakery.

      • Moments like that can be helpful at the piata, though. One time when I was at the piata I was trying to buy something that cost 12 lei, but I only had a couple of 10s. She didn’t want to make change for 20, so I only had to pay 10 lei! 😉

    • Yeah, there money seems to be in better condition than ours. However, being made of that plastic material makes them harder to hold! I tended to drop lei every time I pulled them out of my wallet. 😛


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