The New Israeli Shekel is the Israeli currency (NIS). ILS is an ISO 4217 code. It’s also known as a Shekel (plural: Shkalim) or Sha-ch. Agorot are split into 100 shekels. The shekel is represented by the letters or. The symbol is put before the quantity in Israeli articles, although Hebrew signage and publications may display it otherwise. Israel is progressively introducing a new bill design, with the old and new designs coexisting at the moment. Polypropylene is used in newer notes, making them more difficult to shred or tear. The new 50 shekel bill, in particular, features hues that are comparable to the old 20 shekel bill.
The following banknotes are in use: 200 (blue or red), 100 (brown), 50 (violet or green), and 20 (yellow or green) (green).
Paying for minor expenses with big bills is frowned upon; if you must, apologize excessively.
Coins in circulation: 10 agorot (copper core, nickel rim), 5 agorot (nickel), 2 agorot (nickel), 1 agorot (nickel), 50 agorot (copper), 10 agorot (copper) (copper).
ATMs may be found almost everywhere. All types of credit cards are readily accepted. Note that an ATM’s display of the Visa logo does not necessarily imply that it accepts all kinds of Visa cards; at the present, only Bank Leumi ATMs seem to handle Chip-and-Pin cards (the rest use the magnetic stripe).
When leaving the nation, you may obtain a VAT refund, but expect to wait in line at the airport. Furthermore, VAT refunds are only granted for individual receipts totaling more than 400 shekels and are subject to a few additional restrictions. Eilat is a VAT-free city for both residents and visitors, although it is typically more costly to begin with since it is a resort city. Please check the Ministry of Finance’s VAT refund rules and the Israel Post website, which is currently processing the return.
Some tourist destinations, especially Jerusalem, take US dollars at an approximate conversion rate of 3.5 to the US dollar. You are most likely being conned if you are requested for cash in dollars or euros.
Israel’s living and travel expenses are nearly identical to those in Western Europe, North America, and Australia, making it the most ‘expensive’ nation in the Middle East outside of the Gulf.
Pitzukhiot (little food kiosks) provide a variety of foods such as freshly roasted peanuts, sunflower seeds, and melon seeds, as well as soft drinks, cigarettes, and sweets. Take notice that a soft drink can costs between 5 and 10 shekels right now (July 2013), while a 0.5L bottle costs around one shekel more than a can. Prices in tourist sections of large towns, particularly tourist destinations like Eilat, may be as much as 20 shekels per 0.5L bottle, but a short stroll will frequently uncover more local shops where you can get six 1.5L bottles for as little as 32 shekels. In reality, a six-pack of 2L “Ein Gedi” bottles may be purchased for a fixed price of 12 shekels.
A shawarma in Lafa should cost about 24-30 shekels (drink not included), whereas a typical dinner at a burger chain (McDonald’s, Burger King, and the local Burger Ranch) should cost at least 35 shekels—and there are no “free refills” anyplace in the nation.
Restaurants have a high level of taste and decor; a first course costs 25–45 shekels, a main meal 50–100 shekels (excellent meat costs 80–150 shekels), and desserts cost 25–35 shekels. Soft drinks are quite expensive, costing between $10 and $12 for an average-sized glass without refills. In Israeli restaurants, bottles of wine are often extremely costly, costing between $100 and $300 for ordinary wine.
Tipping is uncommon outside of the food sector.
Tipping is customary at restaurants and bars. In certain Nargila (Shisha/hooka) establishments, there are optional “security costs” that are added to the bill; you may choose whether or not to pay them. In the unlikely event of an assault, this covers the expense of employing an armed guard at the bar. Israelis seldom pay this, although visitors are often unaware that it is not required.
Taxi drivers in Israel are not tipped. It’s possible that a dishonest driver may attempt to mislead you into tipping, but this will never succeed with a local.
- Restaurants – Tip 10%-15%. 15%-20% is considered a generous tip.
- Hotel staff – No tipping.
- Tour guides – 10% – 15% of the daily rate.
- Bartenders – Tip 10%-15%. 15% is considered a generous tip.
- Hair – No tipping.
- Moving – Tipping is optional, usually up to 5% (but often expected depending on the amount of work).
- Food delivery – Tip 5 shekels.
- Groceries delivery – No tipping.
- Other deliveries – No tipping.
- Handymen – No tipping.
- Taxi drivers – No tipping.
On average, Israelis work five days a week, from Sunday to Thursday. Although schools are open Friday morning, Friday and Saturday are designated weekends.
Most businesses in Jewish communities are closed on the Sabbath (“Shabbat”), which runs from sunset on Friday until sundown on Saturday. Friday businesses are open, however they shut about 14:30-15:00 to give enough time to go home before sunset, with some shops closing as early as 12:00. Many stores, particularly those in shopping malls, will reopen on Saturday evening, about 19:00 in the winter and 20:30 in the summer. On Saturdays, certain businesses, particularly those outside of city boundaries or in tourist regions, as well as 24-hour convenience stores, stay open. Shops in Arab communities are often open seven days a week.
Malls and main shopping avenues have stores open from 09:30 to 21:00 every day. Banks and post offices, as well as some smaller businesses, adhere to standard business hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with a lunch break between 13:00 and 16:00 p.m., so double-check.
Markets are known for opening and closing early.
Bargaining is still common in Israel, but it is less so than in the past. Unfortunately, foreigners often struggle to understand when negotiating is expected and acceptable. A general rule of thumb: Bargain with sales representatives, exorbitant pricing, or no prices listed. Anything that seems to be established or corporate should be avoided. Although negotiating a better deal or asking freebies from communication providers (mobile phone, internet, etc.) and the like is often an option!
Bargaining is prevalent in bazaars and rural marketplaces, although it is subtle. Strenuous negotiating, which is frequent in poor nations, will almost certainly lead to nothing and is thus inappropriate. Don’t negotiate for sport if you’ve been offered a reasonable price—frowned it’s upon.
It’s normal to haggle with salespeople at stores (for example, in an electric appliance store). For the aim of negotiating, sticker prices are inflated. Before making a purchase, it is important to compare offers and determine the actual market price. Zap is a popular price comparison service.
In tiny mom-and-pop businesses that offer low-cost goods, bargaining is inappropriate.
It’s usual to haggle with independent service providers (technicians, plumbers, movers, and handymen). It isn’t the case with service providers who aren’t self-employed (hired employees).
Bargaining at stores with posted pricing when you are not interacting with a salesperson is unprofessional and will result in puzzled stares. This includes corporate retailers (such as McDonald’s), most mall stores (without sales representatives), and almost all companies that a visitor interacts with (excluding travel agencies): lodging, transportation, and food (including food stands in markets). If you only ask, several entertainment venues and most activity operators (particularly those that specialize in extreme sports) would gladly offer you a substantial discount.
If you’re bringing a big group to a club or pub, you may be able to negotiate a discount before the party arrives. Bargaining won’t earn you anything significant if you’re already there.
Prices in tourist traps like Jerusalem’s Old City may often be haggled down to as little as 25% of the stated price. When purchasing several products rather than a single item, it is usually simpler to negotiate a better price.
When purchasing bigger goods (such as electronics), paying in cash may frequently result in a 3 percent discount, with further discounts depending on your bargaining skills.
Negotiating fares with taxi drivers is feasible, but seldom to your benefit. If they don’t already use the meter (moneh) as required by law, it’s preferable to teach them to do so.
Many shops have ceased posting actual pricing since the internet coupon frenzy began in 2010, and you may obtain a totally different price just by asking for a discount (“yesh hanacha?” – “Is there a discount?”) or bringing in a coupon you saw on an online coupon site. It’s fairly uncommon to get price reductions of up to 50%. By 2013, the tendency had largely subsided.
Israeli wine, kosher goods, t-shirts, and diamonds are all available. Israel is, without a doubt, one of the finest places to buy Judaica and Christian pilgrim souvenirs.
While buying antiquities from a limited number of government-licensed merchants is allowed, exporting antiquities from Israel is absolutely prohibited unless the Israel Antiquities Authority gives formal permission.