10 Most Expensive Currencies in 2017 (Hint: No. 1 Isn’t the U.S. Dollar)

Expensive Currency in 2015If you want to know what the most expensive currency is in 2017, then don’t bother looking at the U.S. dollar, the British pound, or the euro. Surprisingly, the most valuable currencies in the world don’t always belong to the wealthiest economies.

The following list of currencies gives the U.S. dollar a run for its money when it comes to the most expensive currency in the world. All exchange rates are as of August 29, 2017.

2017’s 10 Most Expensive Currencies

Rank Country Name Currency Name
1 Kuwait Kuwaiti Dinar (KWD)
2 Bahrain Bahraini Dinar (BHD)
3 Oman Omani Rial (OMR)
4 Jordan Jordanian Dinar (JOD)
5 United Kingdom British Pound (GBP)
6 Gibraltar Gibraltar Pound (GIP)
7 Libya Libyan Dinar (LYD)
8 European Union Euro (EUR)
9 Switzerland Swiss Franc (CHF)
10 United States U.S. Dollar (USD)

10. U.S. Dollar (USD)

U.S. DollarOne U.S. dollar buys US$1.00

The U.S. dollar is known as the business currency of the world. Its value is attained using the US Dollar Index, which values the dollar against a basket of foreign currencies. It should not be a shock that, as global currencies have been outperforming in 2017, the U.S. dollar has been suffering as a result. However, it still managed to clinch the final spot on our list of the top 10 most expensive currencies.

9. Swiss Franc (CHF)

Swiss FrancOne Swiss franc buys US$1.04

Switzerland’s famously secretive banking sector made its national currency a safe haven for international capital. The country pegged the franc to the euro when it joined the currency union, opting for a dual system rather than choosing to abolish the franc. However, it let the franc float freely last year, causing a sharp appreciation in the CHF-to-U.S.-dollar exchange rate. Nonetheless, the Swiss franc remains a solid currency. It takes the ninth spot on our list of the most expensive currencies in 2017.

8. Euro (EUR)

EuroOne euro buys US$1.19

Despite its terribly dysfunctional economic and political systems, Europe still managed to keep the euro above the U.S. dollar. It remains one of the most expensive currencies on the planet, which is tragic for anyone who likes visiting Rome or Paris. Even with the European Central Bank implementing a negative interest rate policy, this Euro has staged quite an impressive run this year.  

7. Cayman Island Dollar (KYD)

Cayman IslandsOne Cayman Island dollar buys US$1.22

The Cayman Island dollar makes the list as seventh-most-expensive currency. This currency was originally introduced in 1972, replacing the Jamaican dollar. In 1974, the Currency Law was enacted due to the fallout of the Jamaican currency, and since then the Cayman Island dollar has been pegged to the U.S. dollar at $1.22.

6. Gibraltar Pound (GIP)

Gibraltar PoundOne Gibraltar pound buys US$1.29

The Gibraltar pound is another currency to make the list of most expensive currencies. The Gibraltar pound is pegged to the British pound at par, which is why it trades at the same rate as the U.S. dollar. This act came into effect in 1934. A fun fact is that Gibraltar’s coins are the same weight and size as the coins issued in the United Kingdom, with the exception that their designs are different.

5. British Pound (GBP)

British PoundOne British pound buys US$1.29

Despite tumbling significantly after the “Brexit” vote, the British pound remains relatively expensive for Americans. It looks like poaching former Bank of Canada head Mark Carney to run the Bank of England was a great idea for the pound. It wouldn’t shock us if the British pound drops in the list of the most expensive currencies during 2017.

4. Jordanian Dinar (JOD)

Jordanian DinarOne Jordanian dinar buys US$1.41

This oil-rich country has attained the fourth spot on this list because its currency is pegged. On October 23, 1995, the Jordanian dinar officially became pegged to the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights, and as a result it doesn’t stray very far from $1.41 versus the U.S. dollar, where it currently sits.

3. Omani Rial (OMR)

OmanrialOne Omani rial buys US$2.60

The Middle East has been in a bind since oil prices collapsed in the summer of 2014. Quite frankly, the real issues began when oil prices were above $100.00 a barrel, giving U.S. extractors the margins to fully develop shale technology. The resulting oversupply has decimated the crude oil market, but even so, the Omani rial is still outrageously expensive at $2.60.

2. Bahraini Dinar (BHD)

bahraini-dinarOne Bahraini dinar buys US$2.65

The Bahraini dinar is certainly buoyant because of its ties to Saudi Arabia and the oil market, but it has one additional factor in its column: Bahrain is the home of an American naval base that is crucial to U.S. influence in the region. Its strategic importance gives the Kingdom of Bahrain an outsized role in foreign affairs, which has cemented its currency’s costly stature.

1. Kuwaiti Dinar (KWD)

Kuwaiti DinarOne Kuwaiti dinar buys US$3.32

The Kuwaiti dinar is another currency that benefits from crude oil, yet its history is a tangled mess. The currency first came online in 1961, valued at 1:13.33 against the Indian rupee, then went on to be measured against a basket of other currencies. Kuwait momentarily adopted the Iraqi dinar during the Gulf War, and later pegged the Kuwaiti dinar to the U.S. dollar. However, it’s been free-floating since 2007. In 2013, it became the most expensive currency in the world, and it still stands in that spot.