The most expensive currency in 2016 is not 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 January 19, 2016.
10. Australian Dollar (AUD)
One Australian dollar buys US$0.69
The Aussie is a commodity-based currency, much like the Canadian dollar, but with the added exposure to Japan and Far East trade.
9. Singapore Dollar (SGD)
One Singapore dollar buys US$0.70
Its value has skyrocketed as Singapore became an intellectual hub of the East. With the country beating gross domestic product (GDP) forecasts in the last two quarters, the SGD is looking strong.
8. Bruneian Dollar (BND)
One Bruneian dollar buys US$0.70
Although the currency has fallen from its US$0.83 peak five years ago, the Bruneian dollar still packs a big punch in global forex markets.
7. Libyan Dinar (LYD)
One Libyan dinar buys US$0.74
During the so-called Arab Spring, Libya was plunged into chaos. Its iron-fisted dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, was overthrown by a raging populist movement that failed to unify the country. Nonetheless, Libya’s bountiful supply of oil kept the nation’s currency in good standing.
6. Swiss Franc (CHF)
One Swiss franc buys US$0.99
Switzerland’s famously secretive banking sector made the 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 USD exchange rate.
5. Euro (EUR)
One euro buys US$1.09
Despite its terribly dysfunctional economic and political systems, Europe still managed to keep the euro above the U.S. dollar.
4. British Pound (GBP)
One British pound buys US$1.42
It’s embarrassing whenever you hand a fistful of greenbacks to currency converters and only get back little more than half that quantity. It looks like poaching Mark Carney (formerly of the Bank of Canada) to run the Bank of England was a great idea for the pound.
3. Omani Rial (OMR)
One Omani rial buys US$2.60
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)
One Bahraini dinar buys US$2.65
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 outsize role in foreign affairs, which has also cemented its currency’s costly stature.
1. Kuwaiti Dinar (KWD)
One Kuwaiti dinar buys US$3.28
They 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 and in 2013, it became the most expensive currency in the world.