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Travel advise: payments in Saudi ArabiaJet off well-informed to Saudi Arabia. Here are some handy facts about cash and card payments in Saudi Arabia.
Big malls in Saudi Arabia, such as Panda, Lulu and Othaim, accept international debit/credit card payments. In mini markets and grocery stalls, typically run by Pakistanis, Filipinos and East Asians, card payments are in most cases not accepted. Contactless payments are available in Saudi Arabi for payments up to 100 SAR. After three consecutive contactless card payments, PIN is required. Be aware of currency conversion fees: British banks may charge heavily for international card payments made in Saudi Arabia. In addition, your bank's SAR to GBP exchange rate may not be so good. This is how banks make money. Before using your bank card for payments in Saudi Arabia, it's certainly a good idea to contact your bank. This will avoid your card becoming blocked due to international transactions that your bank may find suspicious.
You should certainly take SAR cash with you on your trip to Saudi Arabia. Cash is an essential means of payment in Saudi Arabia.
A coffee in a cafe will cost around 4 to 6 SAR. A three-course meal in a mid-range restaurant costs 140 to 200 SAR, but it may be more expensive for restaurants inside hotels. The overall cost of living in Saudi Arabi is around 25% lower than the cost of living in the UK.
Tipping a waiter is good practice. If you're happy about the service you should tip 10-15% of the bill. A service charge may already have been added to the bill, so check this first before tipping. Make sure to tip in cash. Avoid tipping people who were the Saudi 'thobe' or 'thawb', the so-called Arabic dress that all Saudi men and boys are required to wear. Saudi men generally have good salaries and live well. They may consider a tip as offensive.