Get yourself a Credit Card! I tell you why.

Money – Iceland can be very expensive sometimes, thus it is highly recommended to know how to avoid any cost traps. The currency that’s used in Iceland is ISK, the Icelandic krona and it’s a strong currency. Actually, according to numbeo Iceland is on position three if it comes to the most expensive countries regarding living costs. So yes, it is expensive, but there is good news, too and you can breathe a sigh of relief – it is possible to cut the costs and travel to Iceland even if you are not descendant of nobility. Well, I want to be honest with you: It’s an expensive trip but we didn’t regret going there, not even for a second. Once you are there you will know that it is totally worth every single coin.

Coin? Oh, that’s a good transition – you probably won’t use cash with coins and notes very often there. On the contrary, you will mostly need to pay by credit card.

Paying at the Gas Station

If you are planning to go on a road trip in Iceland, you will have to drive a lot, which means that you will have to refuel your car often. While driving along the ring road and some smaller trips on other roads we have collected a total number of 2500km. While there is the need for refueling on the one hand, there are endless landscapes on the other hand with not much population. due to the average population density of only 3.4 people per square kilometer, there are a lot of automated gas stations where you can only pay by credit card or prepaid cards. At these gas stations in the middle of nowhere, you will only find an abandoned fuel dispenser that’s only usable if you have a credit card or, as already said, a prepaid fuel card which you will have to purchase earlier.

These machines can be really confusing sometimes since there is no real information on the screens. We have seen a lot of confused faces at the gas stations. Actually, I have been one of them. It works like this: Drive at the gas station and put the correct tap into the filler neck of your car. You now have to insert your credit card. Then, you will have to choose for what amount of ISK you want to refuel your car. For example, if you choose 2.000 ISK the machine will automatically pump gas or diesel into your car, which would be like 10 liters of diesel.
But what happens if you choose more than you actually need? If you choose for example 10.000 ISK, your credit card will be charged for this amount and it allows you to refill up to diesel worth 10.000 ISK (approx. 50 liters). Once the tank is full, e.g. after diesel worth 8.000 ISK you will get a refund of the remaining amount of money. This refund can take up to 14 days. In our case, it only took one day.
Same counts for prepaid fuel cards which you can buy at larger gas stations. You can charge them with the desired amount and then use them for refueling. The advantage is, that you can purchase these prepaid cards by cash if you do not have a credit card or if you have some cash left.

The map on the right gives you an overview of all gas stations in Iceland and tells you the best prices. Comparing is worth a lot since prices can differ a lot!
Expensive brands usually are N1, Skeljungur, and Olis. Cheaper alternatives are the sub-brands Daelan, Orkan, and OB.

Up for some Road Trip inspiration?