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South Africa - Be Informed

How far will my money go?

Rands and cents

Our unit of currency is the rand, which is divided into 100 cents. Coins come in denominations of 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2 and R5, and notes in denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200. All currency must be declared on entry.

How far will my dollar/pound go in South Africa?

A long, long way. Because of the favourable exchange rate, you'll find South Africa a very inexpensive destination.

For a pound you can buy seven daily newspapers, one hamburger, about five cans of Coke, about four beers, two cappuccinos or a pound of cheese. Ten pounds will get you bed and breakfast in a lovely guesthouse or hotel, or four nights in a backpackers dorm, or a bus ticket for a ride of a few hundred kilometres.

A dollar will get you four daily newspapers, a takeaway meal of chicken and chips, two cans of baked beans, half an hour's internet surfing, or a Big Mac (and change). For 10 dollars, you can have a smart three-course meal in a good restaurant (a bottle of nice wine will cost you another $2), two CDs or a night in a comfortable guesthouse.

Banking made easy

You'll also find South Africa an easy destination. From the moment you step off the plane, you'll see that there are banks, bureaux de change and automatic tellers almost everywhere. Generally speaking, banks are open from 9am to 3.30pm Mondays through Fridays, and 8.30am to 11am on Saturdays, but those at the airports adjust their hours of opening to accommodate all international flights.

Major national banks have branches as well as automated teller machines (ATMs) in most large towns. International banks have branches in the major cities. Thomas Cook (represented by Rennies Travel) and American Express foreign exchange offices are available in the major cities.

Credit cards and cash

All major credit cards can be used in South Africa, with American Express and Diners Club enjoying less universal acceptance than Mastercard and Visa. In some small towns, you may find you'll need to use cash. A rather strange anomaly - you may not purchase fuel with credit cards. South Africans have special fuel credit cards, known as garage or petrol cards, which can be used only at filling stations. You can, however, pay road tolls with master or visa cards.

Useful numbers & web sites

You may want to print out a list of these useful numbers before you leave home. All numbers are written as you would dial them from within South Africa. The 0800 numbers are toll-free from a landline within South Africa - but not from a mobile phone. Or click to go through to the relevant web site:

  • American Express SA - 011 359 0200
  • Master Card SA - 0800 990 418
  • Absa Bank - 0800 111 155
  • Nedbank - 0800 555 111
  • Standard Bank - 0800 021 000
Value Added Tax

Value Added Tax (VAT) is levied on most goods and services but, as a foreign national, you may reclaim VAT on anything you bought to take out of the country unused. You need to do this before you embark on your flight home.

Source: SouthAfrica.Info - the official gateway

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