Is There a Currency Data Type in SQL?


Heather Bennett

When working with SQL, you might come across situations where you need to store and manipulate currency values. However, unlike some other programming languages, SQL does not have a specific data type for currency.

This might lead you to wonder how to handle currency values effectively in your database. In this article, we will explore various approaches to deal with currency in SQL.

Option 1: Using Decimal Data Type

The most common approach is to use the DECIMAL data type to store currency values in SQL. The DECIMAL data type allows you to specify precision and scale, which makes it suitable for handling monetary values.

To define a column that can store currency values, you can use the following syntax:

CREATE TABLE my_table (
  amount DECIMAL(10, 2)

In the above example, the DECIMAL(10, 2) specifies that the column can store up to 10 digits with 2 decimal places. You can adjust these numbers based on your requirements.

Advantages of Using Decimal Data Type

  • Precision: The DECIMAL data type provides precise storage of decimal numbers without any rounding errors.
  • Arithmetic Operations: You can perform arithmetic operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division directly on DECIMAL columns.

Disadvantages of Using Decimal Data Type

  • Inefficiency: Storing currency as DECIMAL might require more storage space compared to other data types.
  • Data Integrity: While DECIMAL ensures precision during calculations, it does not enforce constraints like minimum or maximum values for currency.

Option 2: Using Integer or BigInt Data Type with Scale Factor

If storage efficiency is a concern in your application, you can consider using the INTEGER or BIGINT data types, along with a scale factor. The scale factor represents the number of decimal places to consider.

For example:

CREATE TABLE my_table (
  amount INTEGER,
  scale_factor SMALLINT

In this approach, you would store the currency value in the amount column and specify the number of decimal places in the scale_factor column. To retrieve the actual currency value, you would divide the amount by 10 raised to the power of scale_factor.

Advantages of Using Integer or BigInt Data Type with Scale Factor

  • Storage Efficiency: This approach requires less storage space compared to DECIMAL.
  • Data Integrity: You can enforce constraints on minimum and maximum values for currency by using appropriate check constraints on the amount column.

Disadvantages of Using Integer or BigInt Data Type with Scale Factor

  • Precision Limitations: Depending on the chosen data type (INTEGER or BIGINT), there might be limitations on the maximum value that can be represented accurately.
  • Addition/Subtraction Complexity: Performing addition or subtraction operations directly on these columns requires additional calculations to handle scaling factors.

Currency Formatting and Displaying

No matter which approach you choose, it’s important to consider currency formatting and displaying when working with currency values in SQL.

You can use SQL functions like FORMAT or CONCAT to format the currency values according to your requirements. Additionally, you can also leverage front-end technologies like HTML and CSS to further enhance the presentation of currency values.


SELECT CONCAT('$', FORMAT(amount, 2)) AS formatted_amount
FROM my_table;

The above query will format the currency value with a dollar sign ($) and two decimal places.


In conclusion, while SQL does not have a specific data type for currency, you can effectively handle currency values by using the DECIMAL data type or integer-based approaches with scale factors. Each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages, so choose the one that best suits your needs. Remember to consider currency formatting and displaying when working with currency values in SQL.

By employing these approaches and considering formatting, you can ensure accurate storage and manipulation of currency values in your SQL database.

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