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  currency south africa bank notes foreign exchange   South Africa holds one of the most favourable exchange rates for international visitors. Potential travellers can enjoy a longer holiday in South Africa without breaking the bank. Whether you are planning a honeymoon, family vacation or corporate event, you can get the most out of your travels in South Africa.   

What is the South African Currency? 

The currency used in SA is internationally known as ZAR (dutch for Zuid Afrikaanse Rand) and locally known as R (Rand).  One South African Rand (R) is equal to 100 South African cents (c).   The Rand is minted in the following denominations:  Coins – 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2, R5  Notes – R10, R20, R50, R100, R200 South African money is also accepted in Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland.   

How do I convert my foreign currency to Rands? currency south africa cape town foreign exchange

South African banks and foreign exchange bureaus are world class and in abundance. You can walk into any of these facilities and exchange your foreign notes for local currency. Additionally, many of these institutes offer online currency exchange.   

The major banks in South Africa are: 

  • ABSA Bank 
  • Capitec Bank
  • First National Bank 
  • Nedbank 
  • Standard Bank 


The main foreign exchange bureaus in South Africa are: 

  • Inter Africa Bureau de Change 
  • American Express 
  • Bidvest
  • Travelex

Foreign Banks in South Africa include: 

  • Citibank
  • HSBC
  • Bank of China
  • China Construction Bank
  • JPMorgan Chase
  • Standard Chartered Bank
  • BNP Paribas
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Société Générale
  • State Bank of India
  • Bank of Baroda
  • Bank of Taiwan
  • ICIC Bank
  • Canara Bank
  • Bank of India

Airports and some of the bigger hotels also offer foreign exchange facilities however you will need to be mindful of the fee involved compared to bank and bureau fees.   

What do I need in order to exchange my foreign currency? 

Generally, local banks will ask you for the following documentation in order to provide foreign exchange services to you: 

  • Valid ID
  • Passport
  • Air ticket or eTicket in your name

Tips when exchanging currencies at the bank: 

  • You may not buy any currency which is for travel purposes more than 60 days prior to your departure
  • Unused currency be exchanged upon your return to your home country 
  • It is illegal to buy currency outside of the authorized channels


Other ways to transact in South Africa:

Credit and Debit Cards

currency in south africa master card visa It is recommended to get a Visa or Mastercard from your bank back home as majority of the ATMs in South Africa accept both these cards to make withdrawals. You will also get competitive rates on bank fees compared to exchanging notes at the bank or at forex bureaus. 

Tips when using credit or debit cards:

Always notify your bank that you will be travelling abroad as they can freeze your account if they suspect any unusual activity.   

Cash Passport / Travel Wallet 

A convenient new card available from your local bank without linking to your bank account. This means you get to enjoy lower bank fees anytime you use the card. So how does it work? You can load any amount of foreign currency on to the card and top up your balance online as needed. You can use the card to withdraw at an ATM or swipe at stores. It’s a great alternative for people that may require more than one currency.   

Associated website: Johannesburg Airport
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