Mali - Money & Costs
Money & Costs in MaliCurrency: West African CFA Franc
The CFA is fixed against the euro; the best currency to travel with is the euro, in a mixture of cash and travellers' cheques, and it's essential to take some euros in cash. You can get away with spending as little as US$10 a day but this often means grungy rooms, lax security and beef brochettes from the food stalls. If you'd like self-contained rooms, air-conditioning, and the odd meal of steak or chawarmas you can expect to pay US$30-40, while staying in grand old colonial-style hotels and dining out on pigeon and perch will set you back about US$100 a day.
There are a number of banks in Bamako that change money but all of them charge high commissions. If you're coming from Burkina Faso, Niger, or Senegal you're better off changing your money in those countries as the commission rate is lower. Most money transactions in Mali take time, the patience of Job, and a little bit of pleading and cajoling, particularly if you have denominations other than euros. It is possible to get cash from Visa cards in Bamako, but don't expect the process to be easy.
As in most West African countries a 10% tip is expected in better class restaurants.