Travelling in Africa

Travelling in Africa? Discover the best ways to deal with Forex

Although it’s always an adventure, as a business traveller that is headed into African countries, and particularly the more out-of-the-way destinations, travel can be daunting when it comes to dealing with foreign exchange.

It is not always possible to get forex in advance for these trips, and often the forex of your destination may not even be available to order in South Africa. In these cases, we have a few pieces of advice for our business travel clients ahead of their departure.

Travelling in Africa? Discover the best ways to deal with Forex


The US Dollar is king
When it comes to travel in Africa, it is always best to carry cash in the form of US Dollars. While some vendors in neighbouring countries to South Africa, such as Mozambique and Zimbabwe, might be happy to take Rands, Dollars is the currency that is likeliest to be accepted other than that country’s official currency.

It’s not necessary to carry your full travel stipend with you in Dollars, but it is advised that you carry some Dollars to pay for meals, taxis and any small expenses you may incur on your trip. Airports do not always have secure ATM facilities to draw cash on arrival, so it’s best to order your forex in advance.

Remember not to flash your full complement of cash around, and split it into two or three different sections of your hand luggage.

Use a multi-currency Bidvest Bank Mastercard® World Currency Card™
There is a host of advantages to travelling with a currency card. As a business traveller, it’s a simple process of ordering your card from a Bidvest Bank branch and loading currency that is suitable for your destination. US Dollars can be loaded and then drawn in local currency when you arrive at your destination.

Once you have your card, you can make purchases at merchants which accept Mastercard® or draw cash at a secure ATM¹.

Bidvest Bank Mastercard® World Currency Card™ is the safe and cost effective way of accessing different currency purses while you travel – no matter where you go. Unlike using your credit or debit card, carrying your travel money on the prepaid Bidvest Bank Mastercard® World Currency Card™ controls your overseas spending and separates your travel money from your primary credit cards and bank accounts. Terms and conditions apply.

As a bonus, if your card is compromised, lost or stolen, Bidvest Bank will replace it wherever you are in the world. But just in case, a spare card is provided when you order yours.

Dealing with local forex dealers
This can always be a little tricky when you travel and is not usually recommended. Airport forex brokers are often more expensive, taking advantage of their location on touch down for travellers.

Check with your hotel in advance to see whether they can offer you a fair rate for local forex when exchanging Dollars purchased in South Africa.


¹You can make purchases and withdrawals wherever Mastercard is accepted but not in the Common Monetary Area (CMA), which includes South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia. Other countries may be blocked from time to time due to sanctions.

Normal exchange control rules apply