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How BGN is used with Visa and MasterCard

Bulgarian lev isn’t really one of the top currencies in the world. It has its own small niche, mostly used by foreigners to buy goods and services in Bulgaria or to engage in various forms of Forex trading (including arbitrage, hedging, and so on). There are plenty of uses for it, even despite its unfamiliarity to a wider public.

One of the chief ways of moving this currency is through Visa and MasterCard, either directly or through connected wallets. So, what’s the deal?

BGN quick overview

Bulgarian lev (BGN) is the single legal tender used in Bulgaria. The country isn’t in the Eurozone, although its economy is dependent on the euro in many ways. The current exchange rate of EUR to BGN is 1.9:1. The currency has been on this level for over 20 years. It’s pegged to the euro, which explains its stability.

The currency is currently 49th by capitalization, which puts it almost halfway down the list of relevant currencies available on the Forex market. Despite its relative lack of demand, you can put it to many uses. These uses are mostly of a spontaneous nature, but there’s no rule against making money with BGN.

So, how can it be used with Visa or MasterCard?

BGN integration with Visa/MasterCard

BGN, the Bulgarian Lev, has found integration within the Visa and MasterCard networks, facilitating its use in the global financial ecosystem. This integration involves the recognition and acceptance of BGN as a valid currency for transactions and payments conducted through Visa and MasterCard systems.

The implications of this integration are significant for both users and the financial industry. It enhances the flexibility and convenience of using BGN for a wide range of transactions, including international payments, online shopping, and in-store purchases, wherever Visa and MasterCard are accepted.

Utilizing BGN with Visa and MasterCard

Digital wallets

Digital wallets compatible with BGN transactions on Visa and MasterCard platforms include Hyperwallet, PayPal, Wise, Revolut, Paysafe, etc. They support storage, transfers, and transactions with encryption and multi-factor authentication for user protection. Linking these wallets to Visa and MasterCard accounts streamlines BGN transactions.

Debit card storage

You can store lev directly on a debit card, although you’ll need to get one from a Bulgarian bank. For it, you need at least a residence permit within the country (or some special provisions), which will allow you to create an account. This way, you’ll be able to make purchases or otherwise send money to other people.

It’s also possible to combine a wallet and a card by getting a Wise card, which would support BGN. These are available in Bulgaria.

Forex exchanges

You can also store BGN on a Forex exchange. You can typically withdraw your lev savings from there onto some online wallet or directly to your card if that’s possible. While here, you can also trade the currency as part of the hedging or arbitrage strategy.

What can I use BGN for?

In-store purchases

In-store BGN transactions via Visa and MasterCard, especially through contactless methods, offer swift purchases using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. This ease of use makes BGN ideal for everyday shopping, promoting accessibility and user-friendliness. You can use online wallets fairly easily for that.

International transactions

BGN is valuable for international transactions via Visa and MasterCard. It minimizes conversion fees and exchange rate risks, simplifying cross-border payments for users. This integration eases the process of conducting global transactions. This method, however, typically comes with a plethora of fees.


BGN isn’t one of the most coveted trading products on the Forex market, especially because lesser-known currencies are typically prone to wider spreads. However, it can still be used to a great extent on the market, owing to the currency’s stability. It can be used for hedging and diversifying portfolios in general.

Online purchases

It’s admittedly a very niche purpose, but BGN can be used to shop online for Bulgarian goods and services or, interestingly, to buy cheaper. It works like this: prices in Bulgarian money are typically lower in large international online stores and marketplaces, like Steam or Netflix. As such, you can expect to purchase the same goods and services for less. However, you might need to use a VPN in the process.

Opening a bank account in Bulgaria

To open a bank account, you’ll either need a residence permit in the country or be a resident of the EU. For the latter, the process is relatively simple. You can open an account in lev and have a bank card issued fairly easily. Not all banks allow that, but here are some that do:

  • UniCredit Bulbank. UniCredit Bulbank is one of the largest banks in Bulgaria and is a part of the UniCredit Group. They often offer banking services to non-resident EU citizens, but the exact requirements and procedures may change, so it's advisable to contact the bank directly for the most up-to-date information.
  • DSK Bank. DSK Bank is another major bank in Bulgaria. They may also provide accounts for non-resident EU citizens, but the specific terms and documentation required may vary.
  • Postbank. Postbank is one of Bulgaria's leading retail banks. They may offer banking services to non-resident EU citizens. You should inquire with them directly for the latest information.
  • Raiffeisenbank (Bulgaria). Raiffeisenbank is part of the Raiffeisen Group and may have options for non-resident EU citizens to open accounts in Bulgaria. We recommend you contact them for their current requirements.


Bulgarian lev is a rather unpopular currency with some interesting qualities. It can be used to a great extent by people who aren’t Bulgarians if they have a bank account or, better yet, have a Visa/MasterCard debit card with this currency. It’s not really a must-have currency, but it is curious.

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© – , updated 09/06/2023
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