Credit & Debit Cards

Ideal for travellers who’d prefer to stick to what they know, using your credit or debit card is a popular and handy option when travelling abroad. Major credit card brands, like MasterCard and Visa, are globally accepted. You can use debit and credit cards over the counter and at designated ATMs (depending on your location).

Make sure to tell your bank when you are travelling overseas. If they see unusual activities on your account, they may freeze it, which can be quite a hassle to reverse when you're abroad!

  • An easy and convenient way to travel.
  • Credit cards can be used to book accommodation, plane tickets, and other travel plans while you’re overseas.
  • You have instant access to your funds back home, should any emergencies arise.
  • If you already have a debit or credit card, you do not need to stress about pre-arranging travel payment options.
  • Depending on your destination, credit card fraud could be a deterring factor.
  • If your bank card is lost, stolen or swallowed by an ATM, it can be a huge and expensive hassle to get a replacement card from your local bank. New cards can sometimes take 3-4 weeks to arrive.
  • You’ll incur hefty transaction fees of 3 - 3.5% every time you swipe and withdraw cash from an ATM.
  • You will be vulnerable to a fluctuating exchange rate which could hamper your travel budget.

Cash

Travelling with cash is a convenient option, but also poses a great risk should you lose your wallet, or get pickpocketed. Having cash comes in handy if you’re travelling somewhere where other payment methods aren’t an option and if you’re spending a lot of time outside of a major city. If you decide to travel with a large amount of cash, consider splitting it up and storing it in different places (wallet, travel pouch, waterproof bag, etc.), so that should you get robbed, you won’t lose all your cash in one go. If you need to exchange your money, find a bureau that offers a flat rate, and try to exchange large amounts at a time to avoid paying multiple fees.

Cash is always handy to have, especially if you arrive at your destination late and need to pay for a local taxi to your hotel. Some countries charge an airport departure tax that must be paid in cash when you check in for your return flight. Some of these countries include: Costa Rica, Egypt, Guyana, Indonesia, Panama and the Philippines.

  • Paying in cash can help to avoid paying additional surcharges and service fees.
  • You can manage your funds easily, as you’ll always know how much spending money you have.
  • You might be able to organise discounts if paying large sums in cash.
  • You are susceptible to fluctuating exchange rates should you need to exchange your money.
  • If your cash gets lost or stolen, you could end up financially stranded.

Cash Passport/ Travel Wallet

Cash passports, or travel wallets, have become a much more popular way of travelling. These are great if you’re visiting more than one country and need multiple currencies. The cash passport is essentially a debit card that is pre-loaded with your specified amount of foreign currency. You can use this card to withdraw cash at ATM outlets and swipe at shops and restaurants. Although these cards can be obtained from your local bank, they are not linked to your bank account, which means you save on bank fees. You can load the card with multiple currencies and top up your balance online. If the card gets lost or stolen, you can alert your bank or forex outlet to block the card and send you a new one.

  • A safe and convenient way to travel.
  • Fixed exchange rates are locked in prior to departure, so you are not at the mercy of fluctuating exchange rates.
  • Cash passports work out much cheaper than using a debit or credit card overseas.
  • You don’t pay any charges for swiping at points of purchase.
  • Be aware of withdrawal fees – it’s usually cheaper to withdraw large amounts of cash at a time.
  • If you lose your card and need to replace it, it could take around 3 weeks for a new card to reach you.

When purchasing Forex in South Africa, you need to present the following:

1. ID and valid passport
2. Flight ticket or proof of travel arrangements
3. Proof of residence – utility bill not older than 3 months

Tips to keep in mind

  • Foreign exchange can be ordered up to 60 days before your departure date.
  • Avoid changing money at airports and side street kiosks, as the commission fees are usually a lot higher.
  • South African residents over 18 years are allowed to legally take up to R1,000,000 of foreign currency abroad per year in the form of travel allowance.
  • If you do not exchange excess foreign currency within 30 days of returning from your trip, you may be liable to penalties from the Reserve Bank.
  • Travellers embarking on a business trip within 90 days of the previous trip may retain their excess foreign currency for use on their upcoming trip.
  • Foreign currency can only be transferred to your own bank account or that of your spouse. Minors travelling with their parent(s) can transfer their allowance into their parent’s bank account.
  • You do not need to produce proof of transport if travelling to Namibia, Swaziland or Lesotho.

Where can I exchange foreign currency in South Africa?

Aside from major local banks like Absa, FNB, Standard Bank, Bidvest and Capitec, there are multiple agencies and bureaus where you can purchase and exchange foreign currency.

  • Rennies
  • Travelex
  • Inter Africa Bureau de Change
  • Master Currency
  • Master Currency
  • Travelex
  • Tower Bureau de Change
  • Forex World
  • Global Foreign Exchange
  • Rennies
  • American Express
  • Interchange Africa
  • Kudex Foreign Exchange
  • American Express
  • Inter Africa Bureau de Change
  • Master Currency
  • Travelex
  • Rennies
  • Kudex Foreign Exchange
  • American Express
  • Inter Africa Bureau de Change
  • Master Currency
  • Travelex
  • Rennies