South Africa is a popular country among international travelers who are attracted by its diversity, natural beauty, and welcoming people.
In order to have a positive experience and a hassle-free time in South Africa, foreign nationals should understand the country’s money. This way, they will ensure to always have access to their funds, budget for the trip appropriately, and avoid breaking the South African law.
In this article, readers will learn about South African money, including:
- The South African currency and conversion rates
- Where to exchange currencies in South Africa
- The cost of a trip to South Africa
- South African customs money regulations
What Is the Best Currency to Use in South Africa?
The local currency is the South African Rand (R or ZAR.)
Credit and debit cards are accepted in many establishments across the country. However, many shops, restaurants, and most markets still take payments in cash only, and in that case, ZAR is the only option.
Those who visit Africa for the first time will be surprised to learn that many national parks in the continent only accept entry fees paid in US dollars and that is true for South Africa too. The same goes for some popular activities like organized tours and safaris. For this reason, international travelers should keep both rands and American dollars at hand.
Rand exchange rates with major currencies
Approximately, 1 rand equals to:
- 0.057 US dollars
- 0.052 Euros
- 0.046 Pound sterling
However, exchange rates can vary greatly and the actual rands travelers will get for their money will depend on the way they decide to buy currency, the market fluctuations, and the provider they choose.
Where to Buy South African Rands
Obtaining rands does not pose particular difficulties. Visitors can choose to:
- Use their bank or other banks in their home country
- Buy rands at a local South African bank
- Choose money exchangers
- Buy rands online before leaving
Exchanging money at a bank outside of South Africa
Banks located outside of Africa may not have ZAR ready and may charge a delivery fee to obtain it on top of the regular bank fees. That is why usually, exchanging money at a bank before leaving is not the cheapest option.
However, some African banks may actually offer better deals than the ones in South Africa. Also, keep in mind that rates fluctuate greatly. Foreigners should shop around as their travel dates approach.
South African banks and money exchangers
Visitors will not have any issues finding a place to change their money in South Africa. There are plenty of money exchangers and local banks that offer the service. It is also possible to withdraw ZAR directly from an ATM.
Money exchangers offer very different rates and it is important to compare prices before choosing one.
One should not forget to let the home bank know before traveling abroad in order to avoid the cards being blocked while on holiday.
Buying Rands online: is it safe?
Often, online currency exchange services are the cheapest option because they incur fewer costs and apply very small fees. These exchangers are also very convenient as they send the money directly to the buyer who does not have to leave the house.
However, travelers are strongly advised to research providers thoroughly before purchasing their services. There are several reputable online exchangers out there, customer service and reviews will help in identifying the right one.
How Much Cash Can You Carry into South Africa?
Besides abiding by their South African visa requirements and conditions, passengers coming from abroad must also follow the local customs regulations.
Immigration and customs policies for South Africa do not only cover the documents necessary for foreign nationals to enter the country but also the goods and items that can or cannot be transported across the border.
Money is an item regulated by customs policies in countries around the world. Travelers can carry up to R25,000 ($10,000) with them as they enter South Africa. The money does not have to be in ZAR — the same amount is allowed if carried in another currency or in the form of gold or coins.
Foreign visitors should become familiar with the South African customs rules before departing. It is paramount that they check their South Africa visa eligibility and bring with them all the necessary documents.
How Much Money Should I Take to South Africa?
The price of a holiday in South Africa varies greatly depending on the luxury and type of activities the tourist desires. Factors to consider when budgeting for a trip to South Africa include:
- Type of accommodation
- Safaris and other costly activities
- Transport (distances can be great within the country)
Fortunately, there are many areas where travelers can save. In major cities like Cape Town, for example, there are several lodging options, including inexpensive hostels. Taxis, public transport, and meals are also considerably cheap by Western standards. Museums are often free.
The average tourist spends $72 (R1,347) per day on a trip to South Africa. That means that a week in South Africa costs $507 for one person. However, this can vary greatly depending on the season, the visited areas, and the needs of the traveler.