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South Africa has something for every kind of traveler, from wineries, hiking trails to surfing. You’ll find most types of payments are accepted, including credit cards, debit cards and cash, with cash taking precedence in more rural areas.
A credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, is a smart addition to your trip. But you’ll need to balance your card use with cash depending on your South Africa sojourn.
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It’s fairly easy to find ATMs throughout cities in South Africa, and credit cards are widely accepted. However, if you plan to leave the city for the rainforests or go on a hike, plan to bring cash.
Bank of America customers can look for ABSA banks, one of the larger banks in South Africa and a member of the Global ATM Alliance. This means you won’t pay an international ATM fee each time you withdraw money.
Credit cards give you the most purchasing power on expensive items like hotels and flights. Find yourself a credit card that waives foreign transaction fees, like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
Carrying a credit card gives you the added benefit of travel insurance and discounts, depending on your provider. It pays to compare travel card options prior to your trip to find a card that benefits your travel habits most.
While some merchants accept American Express or Discover cards, Visa and Mastercard are accepted more commonly.
For cash withdrawals, look for Standard Bank ATMs for Discover cards. Amex cardholders can choose from ATMs of Nedbank and from smaller banks’ ATMs.
|Merchant acceptance||ATM acceptance|
There are two main types of fees you could incur using a credit card abroad:
Explore top debit cards with no foreign transaction fees and travel credit cards by using the tabs to narrow down your options. Select Compare for up to four products to see their benefits side by side.
A debit card could be a good travel money choice to take to South Africa. Most ATMs and EFTPOS machines in South Africa accept Mastercard and Visa debit cards and don’t charge a local ATM fee. It can also pay to have a travel-friendly debit card that doesn’t charge international ATM fees.
You’ll have access to cash each time you come across an ATM, without carrying lots of cash on you all at once. And because you’re spending your own money, you avoid interest charges.
Travel cards can lock in conversion rates once you load USD. Use it for purchases without worrying about rates each time you spend — debit and credit cards often charge 3% for each transaction.
Where you save in the conversion rates you may pay in fees. You’ll pay fees each time you load the card, ATM withdrawals and sometimes even an inactivity fee.
Security is the main advantage of using traveler’s checks. Each check has a unique serial number and can only be cashed with photo identification. Fees are the main disadvantage.
You need to visit a South African bank to cash traveler’s checks — and pay a commission. You’re better off using a debit or travel card which lets you make cheap or free ATM withdrawals to get South African rand.
South African banknotes have a portrait of Nelson Mandela on the front and come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200. You can easily tell these notes apart by their bright colors.
Unlike banks in the US, South African banks do not charge you to use their ATMs. So you can save on ATM withdrawal fees altogether by choosing a card that doesn’t charge for international ATM withdrawals, like one from Betterment Checking.
Refreshing in: 60s | Tue, Oct 03, 11:05AM GMT
Crime is high in South Africa — including violent crime — and is the number one risk for travelers. Most frequently reported are muggings, armed assaults and theft most commonly occurring in areas that are popular among tourists. Keep your money hidden at all times.
In terms of money safety, South Africa is known for credit card fraud. One of the popular frauds is someone offering you assistance to use an ATM while they steal your card and information. Follow these tips to improve your safety:
Once to get to South Africa, you’ll find you can get by on less than $40 a day if you budget your money right. Save money by pitching a tent outside the hostel or cook your own food.
For those interested in a little less rugged experience, plan to spend between $100 to $250 a day. All prices are in US dollars.
|Accommodation||Budget rooms or hostels|
|Dinner at a midrange restaurant|
$20 per person
$80 per person
$10 per person
|Cape Peninsula full day tour|
Prices are approximate and are subject to change.
Historically, the US dollar has been stronger against the rand. And over the past decade, the dollar has increased in strength — in 2007, the annual average exchange rate was 7.05 rand to the dollar.
What are the business hours for South African banks?
Banks open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. You may be able to find banks in shopping centers and airports with extended hours.
What’s the policy on tipping?
It’s common to give small change to people carrying bags or serving drinks. When you dine out, it’s standard to tip 15% of the total bill. Tour guides and rangers in parks depend on tips for their income.
Which is it better: to use a card with no currency conversion fees or a card that doesn’t charge for ATM withdrawals?
This snapshot doesn’t factor in travel card load and reload fees nor card application fees and interest charges.
|No currency conversion fee debit card||No international ATM fee debit card||Travel card||No currency conversion fee credit card||No international ATM fee credit card|
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