Currency in Georgia
Georgia has it's own currency called "Lari" (the same to "GEL” in the international currency market, so don’t confuse) since 1995 when the National Bank of Georgia put into circulation the Georgian national currency. From now on, Lari has become the sole legal tender currency in the whole Georgia.
According to the currency ranking in Georgia, the most popular exchange rate is GEL to USD- American dollar rate, then comes EURO, Turkish Lira, Pound Sterling and Russian Ruble.
Among less common currencies can be listed the Armenian Dram, the Ukrainian Hryvna, which can be exchanged in the main banks in the capital... (on the poto you can see TBC bank.)
So if you are in Tbilisi, or in any part of Georgia, according to the Georgian legislation, (Lari is the only legal means of payment of the entire Georgia) you will have to pay all goods and services in local currency, which is, as I have already mentioned, Lari/GEL. You should not forget about that fact, that if you pay the community facilities in foreign currency, you will be fined with 500 GEL. So, to feel calm and avoid such problems, you must pay in the local currency, which means, that you will need to find Currency Exchange places. I want to tell you, that this is really easy here, in Tbilisi. You can exchange foreign currencies in any bank you meet, or in specialized exchange offices, which you can find in every corner of the capital-Tbilisi. As usual, currency exchange offices are located near metro stations, nearby hotels, large shopping malls ... almost everywhere.
The exchange rate is more convenient for people in street offices, and you don’t need any documents for operation. They are reliable too. Such offices usually are open until late evening. But there is one thing you should pay attention to: some of the exchange office owners put high rates on the signs to attract consumers, but sometimes (very seldom) it does not correspond to reality, or there is a very little, almost impossible to notice with one glance, the information about the commission fee, which can be as high as 28%. So, while exchanging the money, first make sure that you know all the conditions of exchange. Also, you can ask them about the final sum in advance, and only then make the operation. For more information you may read Exchange money in Tbilisi, Georgia. Also, this article will help you to search correctly for the main currency exchange offices and banks operating in Tbilisi.
Banks are usually open on weekdays from 9:00 to 18:00. On Saturdays, from 9:00 to 14:00. If you want to exchange your money in the bank, make sure you have your ID card (Identity Document) with you. Also, banks have bigger gaps between sell and buy options.
In Tbilisi and other cities, hotels, markets, restaurants and points of sales accept payment in cash, or by debit credit cards. This is very convenient, as you can take both, US dollar as well as Lari/GEL from ATMs (the machine asks you which currency you want). But there are some other places, like countryside, where there might be no banking services and ATMs (an Automated Teller Machines).
P.s. don’t forget, that taxis never accept cards, only if you call out with an application, you will pay with the application. For more imformation read Taxi service in Georgia.
You can exchange your money at Tbilisi International Airport, and want to tell you that it is a very easy way, and you won’t lose much money (about 1%). For example, if you want to exchange 50 $, in Airport you will get 120 Lari/GEL, and in the city exchange offices they will give you 128 Lari/GEL. But if you want to exchange a lot of money, like 1,000 or more, I advise you to exchange it in the city. In Airport taxis you can pay with both USD or Lari/GEL, whatever you want.
What about cards? In Tbilisi, you can use Mastercard, Eurocard, VISA, Cirrus and Maestro Credit Cards in major hotels, supermarkets. But, in private hotels, hostels, or shops, especially in the outskirts of Tbilisi, this type of payment is almost impossible. So, if you are going beyond the capital, or major cities, you better have some cash (of the local money). It would be better if you change it into small denominations from 1-10 GEL- in this way you will avoid problems with change. (you can have such card supplied in Tera Bank.)
If you are from CIS countries (Russia, Armenia, Ukraine, Belarus and etc.), or from other eastern country, I recommend you firstly to exchange your local currency at your home country into dollars, or euros, and only then exchange USD or EURO into GEL in Georgia.
To sum up, if you are going to visit Tbilisi, you will need to know that Lari/GEL currency is optimal to take.