The official currency of the Maldives is the rufiyaa (rf) which is made up of 100 laree (1 rf = 100 laree). Rufiyaa notes come in denominations of 500, 100, 50, 20, 10, five and two. Coins come in denominations of two and one rufiyaa as well as 50, 25 and 10 larees. Many Maldives resorts and tour providers also accept US dollars. However, it is likely you’ll receive change in the local rufiyaa, so having a small mix of US dollars on hand may be helpful for tipping and making small purchases.
If you’re staying at a resort in the Maldives, its unlikely you’ll even need cash throughout your stay. (Plus, if you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort, you can essentially leave your wallet as home!) All purchases including meals, drinks and activities are billed in dollars and settled by credit card, so you won’t need to worry about carrying around money unless you choose to visit a local island. Each resort in the Maldives accepts major credit cards including MasterCard, Visa and Amex. The resorts will also bill everything to your room and all purchases can be settled by credit card at check out. Alternatively, for those staying at guest houses, credit card facilities are available, however you will need cash for dining, sightseeing and activities.
ATMS are available all over Malé and at the international airport, operating 24 hours a day. ATM access on the islands is much more limited and sometimes non-existent. Visitors should also be aware that there are restrictions on changing rufiyaa into foreign currency (so try to only withdraw a small amount at a time). If you take out rufiyaa, you will not be able to exchange it back to US dollars or any other currency. Travellers cheques are accepted by banks in Malé and will distribute cash in US dollars and rufiyaa.
While tipping is not customary at local restaurants, most resorts will add a 10% to 12.5% service tax on almost everything. It is also recommended to tip your room staff or butler at the end of your stay. Be sure to give any tips to the staff personally, not to the front desk.