Traveling to South Africa? Here are some key tips you need to know about money, banks, ATMs, cards and currency exchange.

Whether you’re just visiting or looking to make South Africa your permanent home, understanding the country’s money is important — you’ll need to know how to manage it, how to spend it, and how to save it. Below you’ll find a comprehensive guide to money in South Africa.

South Africa has quite a well-developed financial system and extensive bank network and there are a number of options available for tourists spending money here. Key alternatives include using your foreign credit or debit card.

What’s the currency in South Africa?

South Africa’s currency is the South African rand.Characteristics of the South African rand are:

Names and Nicknames- Rand, ZAR

Symbols & abbreviations -R, ZAR, c1 ZAROne

South African rand is divided into 100 cents ZAR coins.

Coins are available in denominations of 10, 20, and 50 cents, as well as R1, R2, and R 5

Banknotes ZAR- banknotes are available for R 10, R 20, R 50, R 100, and R 200

When traveling in South Africa, it’s smart to carry both ZAR and US dollars. While many shops and restaurants will accept credit cards, merchants at small, local markets may only accept cash — typically in ZAR. Many of Africa’s national parks will only accept US dollars for their entry fees, and some tourist activities, like safaris and other tours, will require that you pay and tip in USD.

There are ATMs everywhere in SA, even in rural towns.

Debit and Credit Bank Cards

Using you debbit or credit bank card is ideal for creatures of habit who aren’t keen on mastering a new and unfamiliar money system, using your credit or debit card from home is a popular and handy, it can become potentially costly, option when travelling in South Africa.

Major credit card brands, eg. MasterCard and Visa, are widely accepted here in SA, and debit cards and cheque cards, which give you access to your bank account in your home country. The plus side to using you credit or debit card is that it can be used over the counter and at ATMs wherever there’s a MasterCard or Visa sign.