Currency in Macao - A Full Guide 2024

Claire Millard
Ileana Ionescu
Last updated
20 May 2024

Planning a trip to Macao? Whether you’re heading there for work or pleasure, you’ll need to know how to pay your way as you travel.

This guide covers all you’ll need to know about the official currency in Macao, where to get it and how to keep your costs down during your trip.

What is the currency in Macao?

The official currency in Macao is the Macanese Pataca, which is issued and overseen by the Monetary Authority of Macao. If you’re buying your travel money online you may also see the official code being shown - MOP. In stores and restaurants, Macanese Pataca prices are likely to use the currency symbol P.

Once you’re in Macao you’ll see costs of items shown in MOP and you’ll need to start paying for things in local coins and notes which are often found in the following denominations:

banknotes - 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1,000 and coins - 10, 20, 50 avos; 1, 2, 5, 10.

Can you officially pay in GBP when you are in Macao?

You’re unlikely to be able to officially transact in GBP in Macao, which is why it’s time to start getting used to MOP and learning more about the currency exchange rates so you’ll know what you’re spending on your trip.

This guide will walk through all you need to know, including British Pound/Macanese Pataca rates and where best to get your travel money from.

Macanese Pataca
Currency nameMacanese Pataca
Central BankMonetary Authority of Macao
Best travel cards to take to MacaoWise

Macanese Pataca coins and banknotes

Here’s a full rundown of the MOP coins and banknotes you’ll need to be familiar with when you’re in Macao.

MOP banknotesMOP coins
10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1,00010, 20, 50 avos; 1, 2, 5, 10

Is GBP accepted in Macao?

As we’ve seen, the official currency in Macao is MOP. If you carry British Pound with you on your trip, you’ll probably need to exchange it before you can spend.

Sometimes when you’re away on a trip abroad you’ll find that merchants will take payments in a selection of major foreign currencies. However, the chances are that where this is offered, you won’t get a good exchange rate for your GBP. Planning smart and convenient ways to spend in MOP when you’re away is likely to mean you save on costs in the end.

Usually, having a few different ways to pay and get cash is the best option for travelers and tourists. That’s because you’ll have a back up plan in case one payment method isn’t accepted for any reason, and you can pick the method that’s best suited to the specific transaction. Having a multi-currency card from a provider like Wise, plus your normal bank debit card, and some local cash in MOP should mean you’ve always got options. You can use your cash for small purchases and tipping, and make low cost payments and cash withdrawals with your multi-currency card, while keeping your bank card in reserve for emergencies.

Use a travel card on your next trip to Macao

Using a travel debit card in Macao is usually cheap, safe and convenient. A few providers in the UK offer multi-currency cards which come with a linked payment account that lets you convert, hold and spend in MOP. That allows you to add a balance in GBP and switch over to MOP to lock in the exchange rate and set your travel budget.

Once you have MOP in your account there are no extra fees to make payments, and you’ll not have foreign transaction charges to worry about, either.

Here’s a quick overview of a couple of handy travel debit cards you may want to order and use in Macao.

Wise travel card

Order a Wise travel card online or in the Wise app, to hold and exchange 40+ currencies and manage your money from your phone. You’ll be able to spend conveniently in MOP - and all currency exchange uses the mid-market rate with no markup.

Card holders get some free ATM withdrawals available every month, and there’s no annual or monthly fees to pay, and no minimum balance requirement.

Read a full Wise review here

Go to Wise
Wise prosWise cons

✅ Currency exchange uses the mid-market rate

✅ No foreign transaction fees apply

✅ Free to hold and spend 40+ currencies

✅ Receive payments to your Wise account in a selection of global currencies

✅ No minimum balance or ongoing fees

❌ Card order fee applies

❌ ATM fees apply once you’ve exhausted your free monthly withdrawals 

What is the currency exchange rate for £ 1 GBP/MOP?

It’s helpful to get to know the live GBP/MOP rate so you can easily calculate how much things are costing you while you’re on your trip abroad.

The rate you need to focus on is the mid market rate, which is the one banks and major currency services get when buying and selling currencies. This rate isn’t always passed on to customers. Instead you may find that the GBP/MOP rate you get when exchanging travel cash includes a markup - an extra fee.

Find the GBP/MOP mid-market rate from a currency conversion site or a website like this, so you can keep an eye on the market and compare the rates you’re offered as you travel against the mid-market rate easily.

Should I exchange GBP to MOP before traveling to Macao?

It’s a good idea to exchange British Pounds to Macanese Pataca before you head off to Macao, as you can often find a better exchange rate and lower overall costs before you travel.

When you’re in Macao you may need MOP in cash for some of your spending - particularly when tipping or making smaller value purchases. Buying your MOP travel money in advance can get you better GBP/MOP exchange rates, and saves you wasting precious time shopping around for a good deal once you arrive in Macao.

Get familiar with the exchange rates offered locally to you, and online, so you can decide whether it’s worth switching some funds in advance of travel, using a card to pay while you’re away, or converting cash on arrival. Both in the UK and in Macao, steer clear of exchanging currency at the airport. A captive market means that GBP/MOP rates are often worse in the airport than in city centers.

Tips for exchanging money in Macao

At merchants and ATMs, make sure you’re charged in MOP. If you’re asked if you’d rather pay in GBP instead, say no. That’s a sign of dynamic currency conversion, which usually means extra costs. Withdrawing money in target-currency can be easy, particularly in big cities and Macao, here’s a few other tips if you want to exchange money in Macao

  1. Avoid using exchange providers at airports or hotels in Macao as they usually offer pretty poor exchange rates because they have a captive market and little competition nearby
  2. Use a travel debit card like the Wise card while you’re in Macao for fast and cheap conversion between currencies and easy ways to manage your money from your phone

Best place to exchange currency in Macao

You can get your MOP in Macao in a couple of ways.

You’ll be able to use a travel debit card from a provider like Wise to make convenient payments and cash withdrawals and to convert funds online.

Or if you prefer an offline solution you can carry some cash in GBP to exchange when you arrive. Currency exchange providers are often in airports and hotels, although the exchange shops in a city centre are likely to be cheaper overall.

How to pay in Macao?

You’ll need to have MOP to spend in Macao. However, generally having a few different payment methods is a good plan. That means that if a merchant won't accept one, you’ve got a back up. It’s also reassuring to know you have a different way to pay if you were unlucky enough to have a card or some travel cash stolen. Here are your key payment options in Macao.

  1. Debit or credit card

    Card payments can be helpful in shops, restaurants and hotels but there will be places where cash is also important. Order a travel card from a provider like Wise for cheap and fast transactions, including card payments and cash withdrawals as and when you need travel money in MOP.

  2. Macanese Pataca cash

    • You’ll usually find you can use a card to make payments in Macao, but carrying some cash in MOP is also reassuring. It’s often easier for tipping and making smaller purchases, plus you’ve got a nice backup if your card is ever out of action for some reason.

    • It’s a smart idea to have both a card and some cash in MOP when you’re in Macao. Some merchants will prefer cash, but having a card for higher value payments and in busier more tourist places is also convenient. Consider using a travel card from a provider like Wise alongside your cash for flexibility.

Paying for the trip in GBP

If you’re paying for things in Macao with a GBP bank card you might find a foreign transaction fee is added. This pushes up your costs when you spend in a foreign currency, and can be tricky to calculate.

Travel debit cards don’t always work this way. When you make purchases in Macao using the Wise card you can either choose to convert your account balance to MOP in advance in the Wise app, or just leave your balance in British Pound and let the card handle the transaction when you pay. You’ll always get the lowest available fee and there are no extra foreign transaction charges.

Conclusion - Currency in Macao

You won’t be able to pay in GBP when you visit Macao - so learning about the currency you need is essential. Whether you decide to use a travel debit card from a service like Wise , or stock up on MOP in cash in advance, knowing the mid-market exchange rate can help you get the best available deal. Use this guide to learn all you need to know about the options, rates and fees for exchanging GBP to MOP, and make your money go further while you’re away.

The official currency in Macao is MOP. You can’t usually pay in British Pound in Macao, so you’ll need to plan in advance to get your travel money sorted. Consider ordering a travel debit card from a service like Wise, for low cost conversions to MOP and convenient spending and withdrawals - and remember that knowing the GBP to MOP mid-market exchange rate is essential to check you’re getting a fair deal on currency exchange.

FAQ - Currency in Macao

What is the currency in Macao called?

The official currency in Macao is the Macanese Pataca. You may also see the code MOP and the currency symbol P.

What's the currency in Macao?

The official currency in Macao is the Macanese Pataca. You’ll only be able to spend in MOP while you’re there.

What is the old Macao currency?

Today the currency in Macao is the Macanese Pataca. If you’re worried about currencies changing, why not get a travel debit card from a service like Wise which will automatically pick the currency needed in your destination when making a payment - with no penalties or inflated fees.

What is the best currency to take to Macao?

You’ll only be able to spend in MOP while you’re in Macao. Carrying some money in cash and using a travel debit card from a service like Wise is usually the best way to spend while you’re away from home.