In both Romania and neighbouring Moldova, the official currency has the same name – leu – though they are separate currencies with differing exchange rates. Most prices in Romania are displayed in Lei; in Moldova, you’ll see US dollar prices.
The 1990’s saw the economy on a roller coaster ride because of the radical shift in policy from a Soviet-style controlled economy to a free market. Both Romanian and Moldavian currencies are now stabilizing. Romania is a member of the European Union. Even before it joined the EU, price levels in Romania had begun to rise, matching those of other East European members of the EU.
ATMs are aplenty in Romania and you can withdraw cash (in lei) 24 x 7 on internationally accepted credit cards like Cirrus Plus, MasterCard, Visa or Eurocard. You can also take cash advances on credit cards in your home currency from certain banks like the Banca Comercial? Român?.
If you’re visiting neighbouring Moldova, you can find ATMs easily enough in the capital, Chisinau, but not in other towns. Keep your passport handy if you wish to change dollars, euros or pounds. Watch out for money-changers who may have goons stationed outside their shops – they’re best avoided! Don’t get taken in by advertisements offering highly attractive rates – you could get tricked into mistaking a ‘9’ for a ‘0’, or other such dodgy practices. Always count your money carefully before leaving.
Black market operations are not very apparent. Never change money on the street, though.