The currency of Benin is the West African CFA Franc. You may see it written as "F CFA" and you will hear it pronounced "see-fuh" or "see-fah". Officially it is the Communaute Financiere Africaine (CFA) Franc issued by the Central Bank of the States of West Africa (BCEAO). If you are looking for the exchange rates for their currency you will need to look for the symbol “XOF”. The 8 countries that use this same currency make up the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) and they are:
Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Sénégal and Togo.
The denominations are:
Coins 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, 250, 500 francs
Banknotes 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 francs
Originally this currency was aligned with a parity value to the Euro – but this has slipped quite a bit. It is, however, externally convertibility as it is guaranteed by the French Treasury.
A few words of caution:
There is another CFA – issued by the Central Bank of the States of West Africa (BCEAO). It is called the Central African CFA Franc and you will see it listed as “XAF” in exchange rates. Theoretically they are exactly the same value, but the notes and coins are different. Don’t take Central African CFA from anyone. Also do not try and take any CFA home with you for exchange. Outside of Paris you may find it virtually impossible to exchange back.
Don’t expect to see to many 1 and 5 CFA coins. The 50-500 range of coins are extremely useful, especially when you haggle for prices. Try to only have 1000 and 2000 notes. 10,000 notes (about 15 Euro, $20) are a nightmare to get rid of.
Old notes that are falling to bits can still be used and people will accept them.
Like everywhere in West-Africa, hishing to someone, when you wants his attention, is very common.
In West-Africa there is also a special way of handshaking with a fingerknip. Learn it, but don't use it with traditional or older woman and with old men. It's to them to choose for it.
And when you shop it's ofcourse very usual to bargain. However it isn't normal if you have to bargain for food and drinks and in the luxury stores. Further on: don't be offended if fathers or mothers want you to marry their daughters, because they want them to go to the western world. Some African friends will also try to bring you a girl for f*cking, even kids or their sisters. It's a sign of friendship. I am homosexual, so I didn't accept any of the many offers, but it's no problem if you want to accept one (but be careful with AIDS and I don't think that its a good idea to f*ck kids) .