The WeSwap way of making the most of your shekels
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The WeSwap way of making the most of your shekels

We asked the experts at the digital social currency platform WeSwap for their definitive answers to a familiar problem

UK travellers to Israel are often given conflicting advice about which currency to use and when and how to make the most of their money in the holy land.

Q. I’m travelling to Israel this summer and usually get shekels to use while there, but have heard that there are benefits to using dollars instead. Is this true, and if so why?

In short, the answer is no. While some locations still accept USD, it’s
becoming less and less common. And usually a USD price will involve
a mark-up in the rate to cover the cost of foreign-exchange. Nowadays, everywhere accepts shekels, so there’s very little reason to use USD anymore.

Q. Do all shops and restaurants take dollars? Why do they do this if shekels is the national currency? Can I just pay in sterling then?

No, not all places take dollars these days. In the past, when the Israeli economy was smaller and less stable, the US dollar did used to be a preferred currency for merchants. Back then, many shops faced a problem; the shekel was unstable and difficult to exchange yet much of the trade was from the US.

Accepting dollars was a way for retailers to deal with this problem. Nowadays, the Israeli economy is stable, as is the shekel. As a result, all merchants accept shekels.

The bottom line is that all you need in Israel is shekels. And WeSwap can help make sure you get the best
possible rate for them.

Q. What exchange rate can I expect to get with WeSwap for this summer in Israel?

We’re proud to say that the rates our users are getting for ILS are extremely good. Our travellers exchange at the perfect interbank rate – the rate the banks exchange at – and we charge between 1.4 percent and 2 percent for the swap. The results are some of the best rates available by quite a margin and actually we’ve struggled to find any high-street provider costing less than 5 percent over the real rate for ILS.

So in brief, a really, really good one!

Q. My son is going to Israel on his gap year and I am nervous about him having lots of cash on him or losing a credit card. What do you suggest?

A WeSwap card is a great option in terms of security, for any age. You can load it up at any point and spend or withdraw just like a normal card, so there’s just no need to carry around lots of cash. If your card is stolen or gets lost, you can block it right away so it can’t be used. Plus, because the card isn’t linked to your bank account, your details and money are safe.

Q. How can I make the most of my money when in Israel in the wake of the Brexit vote?

Obviously the pound isn’t quite as strong as it was, so it’s even more important to get the best rate you can on your shekels. WeSwap is now also engaging local merchants to enhance our swappers’ experience while in Israel too; selected partners who’ll be providing extra value, such as a free drink, treat or discount. So stay keep an eye out for them!

Q. I go to Israel once a year. Am I better off changing back my shekels each time to sterling or keeping the Israeli money?

If you’ve got shekel notes hanging around in a drawer, we’d say keep them for next time. With normal bureaux de change, you tend to get really bad rates exchanging back leftover cash. With money on a WeSwap card, it’s very flexible and completely up to you! If you want to use any leftover balance on a coffee at home, then you can swap it back to pounds and spend away. If you think the market will improve and you’ll get a better rate the next time you go on holiday, then you can swap back to pounds and get shekels again when you need them. Unlike bureaux we don’t marks up the rate or charge any extra either way.

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Q. I have an Israeli pay-as-you-go phone. Can I use a WeSwap card to top up when I’m there?

If you’re topping up in a store then yes, absolutely, you can use your WeSwap card to pay for your top-up just like any other transaction. Online, it depends on the provider, as some pay-as-you-go providers won’t accept prepaid cards like WeSwap; but if you’ve tested it, let us know!