I am building a website which calculates the cost of owning a vehicle.

Among other fields, I need to ask the user to enter:

  1. Cost of the vehicle
  2. Fuel price per litre

The application should be agnostic to user's currency. So for the first question, I can just ask for the "amount" or "price" of the vehicle without showing any dollar/pound/euro/whatever symbol.

Now while entering the fuel price, I need to give the user an option to enter the value in the same currency as the price of the vehicle, or ​1⁄100 of the currency unit (cents for example).

For example, if the user is in Australia, they'll enter the vehicle price in $, but they can enter the fuel price as 150.9 cents per litre. Or they can enter as 1.509 $ per litre.

What would be a generic term for "cents", which every currency person would understand that I'm referring to ​1⁄100 of the currency unit?

In other words, what should the radio buttons say, while giving a choice to the user for entering the fuel price? If I was making it just for Australia, radio button 1 would say "$/L" and button 2 would say "cents/L" or "c/L".

  • 2
    I would keep both inputs the same to reduce confusion and/or implement proper localization. You might also consider that in the US they will likely know their fuel price in dollars per gallon and not per liter. Jan 27, 2020 at 10:19
  • 1
    Are you sure all currencies have a 1/100 unit, or (in case that's relevant in your use case) only an 1/100 unit as a smaller denomination of money than the main currency? Jan 27, 2020 at 13:17
  • @JamesCoyle Thanks, you're right, I'll implement localization and target specific countries.
    – Kartik
    Jan 29, 2020 at 4:27
  • Could you just define a variable on the page 'ie C = Your Currency Unit/100. And the just refer to C/litre when you need to ?
    – PhillipW
    Oct 24, 2020 at 10:59

2 Answers 2


More generic than cents is the term "fractional currency". However, note that not all currencies have fractional units (i.e. there are non-decimal currencies), and in that sense cents doesn't make sense for all currencies. E.g. Mauritania (1 ouguiya = 5 khoums) and Madagascar (1 ariary = 5 iraimbilanja) [1]. Also, there are plenty of decimal currencies with a main currency currently at such a low value, due to inflation, that its fractional currency is obsolete, e.g. the Indonesian Rupiah [2]

As for a transparent and internationalised UI and UX: detect, infer, and (especially if those approaches fail) ask the User what Locale the app is being operated in , then use the appropriate currency for that Locale (if available), you can also make sure to provide appropriate translations and seasonal messaging knowing this...or even simpler: ask the User to choose the currency they wish to work with.

Related reading:

[1] https://enacademic.com/dic.nsf/enwiki/658767

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indonesian_rupiah





I think the word "cents" is OK. First of all it means exactly what you need: one 100th of basic money unit. A lot of currencies have either literally this word for their 1/100th unit or similar (centimes, centavos).

There is a special sign for cents in case you didn't know: ¢. So, "¢/L".

For me it is still an unusual concept to write price in "cents per litre". And of course other cultures may have their currencies not divided by 100 (current Korean won or Japanese yen are too small for cents) or a volume in gallons.

  • 1
    I'm British and would find cents confusing. I'd probably put the pence (GBP) value into Google and convert it into cents (USD) before putting it into the field. Jan 27, 2020 at 12:38
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    "A lot of currencies have either literally this word for their 1/100th unit" - IMHO, that's precisely why "cents" is not a good choice. If I, as a German, saw a price saying "X cents" over in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, for instance, my first assumption would be that they're advertising a price in Euro cents (as a courtesy to tourists paying in Euro), rather than expressing Rappen. Jan 27, 2020 at 13:21

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