Foreign Exchange South Africa: A Guide For Travellers


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If you are travelling to South Africa from another country, you will need to know how to change money, what the local currency is and where you can do currency exchange safely and cheaply. This article is meant to answer as many of these questions as possible so that you enjoy your stay in the beautiful and diverse country without having to worry about money issues.

Foreign Exchange South Africa Need to Know: Local Currency

The first thing you need to know before coming to South Africa (no matter how obvious this may seem) is what the local currency is. South Africans use the South African Rand (ZAR) as their legal tender and cents are used as a fraction of it (100c = R1). One and two cent coins have been done away with and there is talk of doing the same with the five cent coin. Notes come in denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200.

Foreign Exchange South Africa Need to Know Two: Where To Go

As soon as you get into South Africa you will need exchange your country’s local currency for the Rand (so you can start paying for transactions). You can do this at the airport as soon as you land as well at a number of other locations. All of the major banks (Standard Bank, First National Bank, ABSA and Nedbank) will be able to assist you with foreign exchange. You can also do foreign exchange at travel agents like Rennies Travel for added convenience.

Can You Also Use Cards?
All major credit cards are accepted in South Africa but Mastercard, Visa and Maestro are the most commonly used ones in the country. If you are afraid of your credit card not being accepted for whatever reason, stick to Mastercard or Visa as two of the biggest banks in South Africa, Standard Bank and First National Bank, use these so you will be safe. Debit cards are also widely used and accepted everywhere. Major retailers like Pick n Pay allow you to draw money at the till with Visa and ATMs are everywhere.

South Africa is unfortunately known for its high crime rate and while reports are often exaggerated, it is important to stay alert and vigilant while travelling through the country. Carry as little cash on you as possible as cards are easier to replace. This is true whether you are a tourist visiting the country or you are a South African resident.

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