Finances while in Israel

What is the best way for your child to have cash is always a big question:

It is important to talk with your child about finances prior to their departure.  Set up a reasonable budget. Keep in mind the following costs when setting up the budget:

Transportation to and from the school to the center of town.  This can become very pricey of your child does not take city buses.One can purchase a "catisia" for approximately 60 NIS for 12 bus rides.

  Eating out adds up.  Jerusalem has so many options and being able to walk out and be surrounded by Kosher food is so enticing.  It is important to budget for going out and also to put a cap on it.  The programs provide meals so going out should be a once or twice a week treat with friends and not a nightly affair.

Gifts for hosts. It is always nice to bring something when invited for Shabbat.  It does not have to be expensive and always a good idea to ask the hosts if they want food/wine/flowers or something for the kids.

There will always be emergencies but do not let the spending get out of control. 

We conducted a survey among parents and young people and came up with the following.

1. Cash: Best exchange rates, but can be risky. Parents have sent between $200-$500 with their child. Most schools have a safe where cash can be kept.

2. Personal or Travelers Checks: Safer,  there is a fee to exchange into shekels (typically 1% or more)

There are a few money changing storefronts on Emek Refaim which are fine to use.

3. Credit cards: With the exception of Capital One, there is typically a 3% transaction fee for all foreign purchases (Capital One is a great credit card option for purchases, but still costly to get actual shekels from an ATM machine)

There is an international debit card-payoneer-which is worth looking into and comparing the fees with those of your credit card company

4. Bank Accounts in Israel: The Israeli banks typically charge lots of fees including monthly account fees, deposit fees, withdrawal fees, teller fees, etc.