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AU Nairobi | Money Matters

Picture of Kenya shillings in bills and coins

Kenyan shillings have colorful bills and two-toned coins


The Kenya currency is the Kenya Shilling. It is denoted by this symbol /- or KSh. You will be able to access shillings when you arrive at the airport as there are both ATMs and foreign exchange (forex) bureaus.

picture of a corner of a mall filled with various atm machines in nairobi

ATMs/Credit Cards

Kenya’s banking sector is well-established and there are several options for students to extract money through ATMs. Make sure that your ATM card has a Visa logo.

Cost of Living

A city of contrasts, Nairobi (and Kenya more generally), has a thriving dual economy. If you live like an expatriate who receives their salary in USD and has expendable income, you can expect to pay 1500 KSh for a hearty breakfast or up to 4000 KSh for dinner at a nice restaurant. A vast majority of people live on much less. Tea and a mandazi (Kenyan donut) can cost only 100 KSh or you can take beef stew and rice for 300 KSh. Generally, costs change depending on neighborhoods, locale of restaurant, or type of clientele. You can find the currency calculator link on the top right of this page.

American Dollars

American dollars cannot be exchanged for shillings unless the paper notes are printed after the year 2006 because of counterfeiting issues. The lower the denomination of the bill the lower the rate of return. It is not recommended that students bring lots of American cash with them.

image of five kenyan paper bills in different denominations with five two toned coins in the middle of the bills
Colorful bills and coins in denominations from one shilling to one thousand shillings make using Kenyan money an enjoyable experience!