A complete guide to money in Norway, from the currency to the new wave of digital payment solutions.
Norway is one of the most advanced countries in the world in terms of digital payments. Banknotes and coins are rarely used by locals. Most prefer debit or credit cards, and many using one of several digital payment solutions.
Currency in Norway
The currency used in Norway is the Norwegian krone. Some locals will use the term “Norwegian crowns” when speaking to tourists, as that is the literal English translation. Krone is singular, and kroner is plural. When written down, the currency name is typically written as NOK before the amount, or kr after the amount, but not both.
Some tourist shops will accept foreign currency (typically Euro and US Dollar), but this is a bad idea for two reasons: You are almost always going to get a very poor exchange rate, and you’ll receive any change back in local currency.
If you want Norwegian krone currency, my advice is to use your debit card to withdraw cash at an ATM here in Norway. Most don’t charge, and the exchange rate from Norwegian banks tends to be reasonably fair. Bear in mind that your own bank may charge a lot for this service, so do your own research rather than take this advice as gospel.
One of the many reasons that prices are high in Norway is a relatively high rate of sales tax, or VAT, known locally as MVA or moms. The rate at the time of writing is 25%, and this tax is always included in the price you see in restaurants and stores.
When shopping for souvenirs, be aware that you may be entitled to a refund of the sales tax paid on the items when you leave Norway. There is a very strict process to follow in order to claim such a refund, so make sure you understand the full sales tax refund process before you shell out. Otherwise, you could be missing out on some cash!
Credit and debit cards
Norwegians use cards on a daily basis for even the smallest purchases. The vast majority of restaurants, attractions, hotels and bars will accept international credit cards, and normally international debit cards too. A small number of establishments (including some market traders, for example), may use a local system on which they can only accept Norwegian debit cards.
Whenever I travel within Norway, I use cards for every purchase, from paying for a hotel to a stick of gum. But, I always keep a small amount of currency on me, just in case. If you plan on paying with physical currency on your travels, just bear in mind that smaller establishments (such as small kiosks out in the fjords) may not have much change, as they rarely receive cash payments.