Africa Guide
Guide to Africa

Money in Africa

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 travellers cheques to take are Barclays Bank, Thomas Cook and American Express.

There are some downfalls with only taking travellers 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 travellers 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.

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 youo 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.

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 inconspicious and well hidden under your clothing. Do not walk round with a great bulge around your midrift - this just shows everyones 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

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