Local Payments

South Africa

Currency & Money

The South African Rand is the currency in South Africa (ZA, ZAF). The South African Rand is also known as Rands. The symbol for ZAR can be written R. The South African Rand is divided into 100 cents.

Travellers Cheques:

Travellers cheque are the safest way to carry money – if lost, you can always get them refunded provided you have a clear log on the ones that have been cashed, when and where. The best traveller’s cheques to take are Barclays Bank, Thomas Cook and American Express.

There are some downfalls with only taking traveller’s cheques:

You may not be in an area where these can easily be exchanged. In some more remote places it can take hours if at all.

You do not have the same bargaining power as US Dollar (or Pounds Sterling) cash will have.

You may have to pay high commission rates – these can vary from bank to bank depending on the type of traveller’s cheque.

Take probably about 60% + of your funds in Travellers Cheques.


Definitely ensure that you take some cash – the currency depends on the region you are visiting

West Africa – US Dollar/Euro’s
East Africa – US Dollar, Pounds Sterling
North Africa – US Dollar
Southern Africa – US Dollar, Pounds Sterling

You will find that some hotel bills and even some game park entrance fees must be paid for in Foreign currency.

If taking US Dollar cash check your notes are not older than 1991 – they’re not accepted in some exchange bureaus

Take a fair amount of small denomination US money for airport (departure) taxes and when you only need to exchange a small amount of money-like when leaving a country.

You will also have much better bargaining power if you pay in foreign currency.

When you exchange money, exchange plenty – it is often a time consuming task and banks are not always open. In remote areas you may not be able to exchange money. Money can be exchanged in many hotels. Always get a receipt when changing money through the official channels.

Make sure you have small bills (notes), as you will need to use these for tips and misc – also some remote places may not have change

Credit/Debit Cards
Unless you are travelling in cities and well developed countries, such as Southern Africa you will find that very few places accept payment by credit card.

If you are going to make payment via credit card for a hotel room, safari or activity, ensure that you know exactly what exchange rate they are going to use and if there are any additional fees for paying by credit card. When you have made a payment using credit card – always keep your credit card receipt in a safe place – it is not unknown to be charged twice and without your credit card receipt there is little you can do to dispute anything when you get back home.

Prior to leaving advise your credit card company that you are going to be in Africa. That way if they get any new or strange charges from there, they will not deny it. This could save you a lot of trouble trying to pay for a meal or Hotel somewhere.

In cities and well developed countries you can draw cash out from ATM machines using your credit card – however, please be aware that money from ATM’s is ONLY available in local currency.

Keeping your Money Safe

It goes without saying that if you lose your money – your holiday will be ruined – there are many tips on ensuring the safety of your money and valuables. Always have a small bit of money available in a pocket or close to hand – you do not want to dig into your bag or Money Belt or pull out a whole wedge of money when paying for something.

If you use a money belt make sure that it is small and inconspicuous and well hidden under your clothing. Do not walk round with a great bulge around your midrift – this just shows everyone’s exactly where your valuables are and does not provide any safety.

While travelling, you may require money for unexpected expenses such as shopping, international calls, tipping, medical or for various other reasons. So it is always advisable to carry extra cash than you have actually planned to so that you don’t hesitate in spending or enjoying your trip

It is best to store your money in several places, then, in the unfortunate incident of you being robbed or losing money you won’t lose all.

Many hotels and safari companies provide safety deposit boxes for you, but they may be managed differently – find out who has access before storing anything in a afety deposit box and if you feel comfortable with the security then leave the majority of your money and valuables here.

When I am travelling and staying in one place for any length of time, I look for a good spot to hide my money in the room I am staying in only provided there are no staff coming in. There are many, many good places if you look hard enough – (behind a picture or wall hanging is NOT one of them!) do not make it obvious….Generally a thief will want to get and and out as quick as possible – they don’t have time to look around


Botswana’s unit of currency is the Pula (P), which is divided into 100 Thebe (t). The word ‘ Pula’ means rain and ‘thebe’ means shield. The shield appears on the national coat of arms. Bank notes come in denominations of P10, 20, 50 and 100, and coins in denominations of 5t, 10t, 25t, 50t, P1, P2 and P5.Major credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club, are accepted widely. Most hotels and lodges accept foreign currency or travellers’ cheques.

There are also Exchange bureaus at major border posts. Credit card cash advances are available in major cities through Barclays Bank or Standard Chartered Bank. Cash transfers are easiest through Western Union money transfer. Please note that credit card cash is also available at First National Bank. Botswana abolished exchange controls in February 1999. Foreign exchange transactions forms must be completed, as the Bank of Botswana requires a record of the amount of currency in circulation.

While cash of any amount is no longer restricted, any person entering or leaving Botswana is required to declare Pula and/or foreign currency bank notes in their possession if the amount is equal to or exceeds an equivalent of P10,000.00 (ten thousand Pula). A family unit must declare any amount carried by each member if the aggregate in the possession of the family is P10,000.00 or more.

Travellers’ cheques and any other monetary instruments need not to be declared.

There are 5 commercial banks in the country, with branches in major towns and many main villages: Barclays Bank of Botswana, Standard Chartered Bank, First National Bank, Stanbic Bank Botswana and Bank of Baroda. Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) are located throughout the country at most shopping malls and major hotels.


Money in Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwean dollar (sign: $, or Z$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies) was the official currency of Zimbabwe from 1980 to 12 April 2009.

Although the dollar was considered to be among the highest valued currency units when it was first introduced in 1980 to replace the Rhodesian dollar at a ratio of 1:1, political turmoil and hyperinflation least valued currency units in the world, undergoing three redenominations, and banknote denominations being issued for as high as $100 trillion. Eroded the value of the Zimbabwe dollar to eventually become one of the

Despite attempts to control inflation by legislation and three separate redenominations in 2006, 2008 and 2009, the use of the dollar as an official currency was effectively abandoned on 12 April 2009. This was a result of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe legalizing the use of foreign currencies for transactions in January 2009.

Foreign currencies such as the South African Rand, Botswana Pula, Pound Sterling and the United States Dollar are now used instead for all transactions in Zimbabwe, and the current policy of the government of Zimbabwe has insisted that any attempts to reintroduce Zimbabwean currency should only be considered if the industrial output improves.



The Kwacha has denominations of 50, 100, 500, 1000, 5000 and 10 000, 20 000 and 50 000 kwacha notes.

Click here for the latest currency exchange rate www.xe.com

Currency regulations

There is no limit to the importation of foreign currency, provided it is declared on arrival through a currency declaration form.

Credit Cards

Most hotels, restaurants, travel agencies and the bigger shops will take credit cards. Most of the bigger banks will advance local currency against a credit card. Standard Chartered, Stanbic and Barclays Banks have ATM’s which accept Visa cards for cash.