In South Africa, the official currency is the Rand sometimes denoted as R or ZAR, and carries the ISO 4217 code. The Rand is a legal tender and can be used for purchasing across borders like in Swaziland, Lesotho and Namibia. It is also unofficially accepted in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Angola though there aren’t any guarantees that these will be accepted on tender.
The Rand is composed of 5 coins and 5 bills shown bellow.
South African Bills
Interesting fact: The five bills represent the big five, namely, the white rhinoceros, the elephant, the lion, the buffalo and the leopard. They also have “South African Reserve Bank” in all 11 official languages written on them across the five bills front and back.
Back - Mandela Centenary 1918-2018
A word of caution, the R20 bill and the R200 are very similar in colour and easily confused. Make sure that you are using the right note when paying.
South African Coins
Use your travel or credit card whenever possible. It is often the safest and least expensive way to spend your money. Check with your bank for the exact costs. If you use a credit card be aware that the Rand is unpredictable and fluctuates daily, between April 2017 and March 2018 its value fluctuated between $0,0734 and $0,0845 to the Rand or from R13,0500 to R11.8398 to the Dollar.
Should you need to convert your currency to the Rand, there are various options at your disposal. You could do your conversion in your home country before you travel to Southern Africa. However, this may be a costly and complicated affair. You may opt to get a traveller’s card; this will have to be either a MasterCard or Visa card. These are widely accepted in South Africa and often have the bonus of being insured.
Should you feel safer with cash, all international airports have Forex specialists such as TravelEx, American Express, Bidvest Bank and many others. Furthermore, many of the major banks have Forex facilities throughout the country in the major cities. You will need to find out whether there is a bank where you are, a number of the larger shopping malls also have Forex specialists.
One of your best options would be to withdraw from an ATM. These are available countrywide, are often cheaper on the exchange (check with your bank) and are very convenient. We recommend that you use ATMs from one of these trusted banks:
Lastly, should you be in dire need of cash, some hotels will exchange currency for you. Be aware that most hotels will charge you higher rates than the above or they may not have enough money on hand.
If you travel in a group and want to exchange money at the airport, do it as a group, your charges will be lower overall.