Here are some tips for managing your finances while in Israel.
We strongly suggest you submit all the necessary payments and paperwork before you arrive.
Completing your financial responsibilities ahead of time will make the arrival process a more streamlined, stress-free experience. You may prefer to be able to go directly to your housing and get settled in. If you arrive on campus with outstanding payments or paperwork, you may find yourself waiting in long lines to complete the necessary forms before you can move in.
Payments submitted after your program’s financial registration deadline may also be charged a US$ 150 late payment. Click here to learn more about financial registration.
Israel’s official currency is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS). You may have time to change dollars into Israeli shekels as you wait for your luggage in Ben Gurion Airport, but to be prepared for any emergency, you should bring a small amount of Israeli currency with you – about US$ 50 to 100. You may be able to obtain this from your local bank. You can also purchase foreign currency at currency exchange windows or vending machines in many international airports.
We also suggest you bring enough cash or traveler’s checks to cover any initial fees and living expenses (about US$ 300).
Use an ATM or Debit Card
Using an ATM is generally the most economical and convenient way to access your money in Israel. We recommend you open a checking account that operates on an ATM network available in Israel.
The ATM card should be linked to a checking account. Savings accounts are not accessible from Israel.
- Cirrus and Plus are two major networks that are accessible by money machines in Israel. Are you on one of these networks? Check with your bank. If so, you can withdraw money in Israeli currency at any cash machine in Israel.
- There are several ATMs located in the Forum on the Mount Scopus Campus. There is also an ATM in the Frank Sinatra Student Center near the Boyar Building.
- Be sure to get a four-digit PIN, since longer PINs are not always accepted at Israeli ATMs.
Use a Credit Card
Check with your credit card company to learn which services are available in Israel – for example, withdrawal of cash advances from ATM machines or writing checks. Always ask what fees are charged for these services and whether the interest charged for cash advances is higher than your regular rate.
Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted in Israel for purchases.
American Express cardholders can withdraw funds in the form of AMEX traveler’s checks from a US checking account while in Israel. The American Express office is located in the center of Jerusalem. Please be aware that cashing traveler’s checks also involves fees.
Open an Israeli Bank Account
It’s a good idea to open an account with a local bank for both dollars and shekels. When you open an account, you should apply for a bank card that will allow you to withdraw money from an ATM. There are banks in Israel that prefer not to open accounts for visiting students due to the temporary nature of the account and the lack of regular income deposited into the account. RIS students have been successful in opening accounts at the following banks:
Ask for Gila, who works for the overseas residents department.
Aba Berdichev St. 2
- Clal Center, Jaffa Rd. 97
- Keren Hayesod St. 5
Bring the following items with you to open your bank account:
- An additional ID from your Country of Origin (driver’s license, birth certificate, etc.)
- Student ID
- Certificate of Enrollment
- If you are a US citizen you must have your Social Security number
Receive Money from Abroad
There are several ways you can receive funds from overseas.
- Have checks or money orders sent by registered mail. Be prepared that a check mailed to you in Israel may take at least three weeks to clear in your bank account.
- Receive a bank transfer by having your US bank wire money into your Israeli account. This is one of the fastest ways to receive money. Most commercial banks will wire money to Israel; check with your bank for fees and instructions.
- Wire money to Israel through Western Union and the Israel Postal Authority. Money may be transferred from Western Union agents in the US to a number of postal branches in Jerusalem. The receiver, upon proof of identity, collects the money in cash (Israeli currency). The sender pays the transfer fee. For more information, call +1 (800) 325 6000 in the US or call toll-free (177) 022 2131 in Israel, or visit Western Union’s website.
Do not send cash through the mail.
The cost of academic materials at HebrewU is generally low. You should expect to spend around US$ 50-75 for ulpan books and US$ 150-200 for books and supplies during the academic semester.
The amount you spend on daily necessities can vary widely, according to individual preference and lifestyle. We recommend budgeting US$ 400-600 per month for food, entertainment, transportation, telephone, and other expenses. For more information, visit our page on the cost of living of Israel.
Review the Financial Guide
The Rothberg International School Financial Information Guide (PDF) offers comprehensive information about financial regulations, withdrawal and refunds, important deadlines, and other details specific to each program.
Helping students dealing with financial problems.
Student Welfare (for Israeli Citizens & Permanent Jerusalem Residents)
Phone: +972 2 588 2881
Address: Frank Sinatra Building (first floor)
Office Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
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