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    Currency in South Africa ZAR - Things to know

    Foreign exchange guide to South Africa and the South African rand

    South Africa

    What currency is used in South Africa?

    The official currency of South Africa (country code: ZA) is the South African rand, with symbol R and currency code ZAR.

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    Things to know about the South African rand

    Trading in South Africa’s rand contributes to 1% of daily foreign exchange market volume. Like a dollar currency, the rand is subdivided into 100 cents. The word rand comes from Witwatersrand – that being the name of the ridge upon which Johannesburg is built.

    The rand has traditionally been considered a ‘commodities currency’ due to South Africa being a resource-rich nation who export a great deal of gold, platinum, coal and oil, among other commodities. However, in a study by the Bank for International Settlements in 2016, researchers concluded that of eleven currencies studied, the rand could be predicted the least by changes in commodities prices.

    As an emerging market currency, the rand is considered riskier than currencies from major developed nations, which means that its value will fall against those currencies (especially JPY, USD, CHF, GBP and EUR) during periods of economic uncertainty or when global geopolitical risk is elevated, or during bouts of high market volatility.

    Historically, the rand’s lowest valuation against the US dollar came in January 2016 when USD/ZAR reached 16.84. It's all-time high occurred in June 1973 when USD/ZAR stood at just 0.67. More recently, since 2008, the rand was strongest in May 2011 when USD/ZAR fell to 6.54.

    An example South African rand banknote


    Travel money for South Africa

    Save money and time by Ordering your South African rand online from Travelex, you get better rates and can pick up the ZAR cash locally or even on travel day at the airport.

    Another popular option is to use a Pre-paid Travel Card. Your Debit/Credit Card provider will charge you 2% from market mid-rate, but your bank may also charge an extra 3% as an “Overseas Transaction Charge” plus “Overseas ATM” fees for withdrawing cash.

    For card purchases if offered a choice of currencies always select to Pay in South African rand otherwise you may get much worst exchange rates.


    Travel Ideas and Money Tips for South Africa

    South Africa is one of the continent's best safari destinations, offering the Big Five (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino) and more in accessible parks and reserves. You can drive right into the epic wilderness at Kruger, Kgalagadi and other parks, or join khaki-clad rangers on guided drives and walks. But it's not all about big-game sightings – wildlife watching here also teaches you to enjoy the little things.

    South Africa's landscapes are stunning, from the burning Karoo and Kalahari semideserts to the misty heights of the Drakensberg range and the massive Blyde River Canyon. Even in urban Cape Town, you need only look up to see the beautiful fynbos (indigenous flora) climbing the slopes of Table Mountain, while nearby, two of the world's most dramatic coastal roads lead to Cape Point and Hermanus.

    Coast of South Africa.

    What currency is used in South Africa?

    The local currency is the South African Rand. The Rand to the USD fluctuates regularly, sometimes extremely, depending on when you travel, you should check the rates both when you price and when you book. Many places will take all the usual credit cards, but again, some may not, plan according to your trip. If you're in a big city like Joburg (what the locals call Johannesburg) it’s not a problem; if you're staying in a rural area, plan for extra cash.

    You will often be charged a foreign transaction fee of about 3 percent by your bank, whether you get cash out or use a credit card. This can be expensive, so make sure you budget for it. If you want your debit/credit cards to work in South Africa, or any foreign country, call your bank before you leave so your bank does not freeze your account thinking it may be fraud.

    There are limits on the amount of currency you can bring into South Africa. For cash in South African Rand (ZAR), the limit is 25,000ZAR. For combinations of cash in other currencies, the limit is US$10,000 (or equivalent). There is a high incidence of credit card fraud and fraud involving ATMs. Make sure your PIN is not seen by others when withdrawing money from an ATM. Refuse offers of help from bystanders. don't change large sums of money in busy public areas.

    South Africa is considered to have the best Safari locations in Africa.

    How to travel in South Africa?

    Public transport in South Africa, particularly the bus system, is not ideal and neither is the public train system in South Africa unless it is the luxury passenger trains that have an itinerary all of their own. Public trains and busses are not recommended in most areas. In Johannesburg, the relatively new Gauteng Rail System, is a good option, make sure your hotel has a train station near enough and you may be able to take the train from the airport.

    A convenient alternative to standard bus lines, the Baz Bus caters almost exclusively to backpackers and travellers. It offers hop-on, hop-off fares and door-to-door services between Cape Town and Jo’burg via the Garden Route, Port Elizabeth, Mthatha, Durban and the Northern Drakensberg. Baz Bus drops off and picks up at hostels, and it has transfer arrangements with those off its route in areas such as the Wild Coast. You can book directly with Baz Bus online, by email, phone or SMS, or at hostels.

    There are a number of budget airlines connecting all the major South African cities. It rarely works out cheaper to fly with the main carrier, South African Airways (SAA). Domestic fares are generally affordable but it depends on the route. A budget flight from Jo’burg to Cape Town, a popular route served by numerous airlines, costs around R1000, while Cape Town to East London, a less competitive route, might cost double that.

    Travel tips for South Africa.

    South Africa is cold at night in June and July. To make sure you’re warm, take flannel pajamas and socks for sleeping. Most hotels, even the expensive international ones, do not have central heat (just a window unit), single pane glass, and poor insulation.

    Immigration rules require parents travelling with children (under 18) to show the child’s full unabridged birth certificate (or a certified copy). The full unabridged birth certificate should list the child’s details and both parents’ details. The abridged (short) birth certificate which only lists the child’s particulars won’t be accepted.

    South Africa is known for its epic landscapes.

    You can drink the water. In general, the water quality is very good. From time to time, tourists have been known to suffer from a tummy ache or two. You may want to order bottled water to drink, but you needn’t be hyper vigilant. You can certainly use ice made from tap water, and eat fresh fruits and vegetables that have been washed with tap water.

    f you've been to the Caribbean or Southeast Asia, you are aware of how the concept of time can shift. This laid-back, slow pace is also found in South Africa. You might find yourself anxiously tapping your feet for that waiter to come by or hotel clerk to check you in, even in big cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town.


    USD/ZAR Market Data

    The below interactive chart displays the USD/ZAR change and UP📈 DOWN📉 trends over the past 1 Year.

    1 USD =
    18.95We compare provider deals to this wholesale mid-market rate. Read more
      1 ZAR = 0.052768 USD   (Inverse rate)
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    Frequently Asked Questions

    What currency should I use in South Africa?

    The domestic currency in South Africa is the South African rand.

    What is the South African rand currency code and symbol?

    The three letter currency code for the South African rand is ZAR — symbol is R.

    Which countries use the South African rand?

    It is the domestic currency in    South Africa.

    Is the South African rand a closed currency?

    No, the South African rand is freely available and convertible. See guide: What is a closed currency?

    What are equivalent amounts of USD and ZAR?

    Here are some popular conversion amounts for USD to ZAR (US dollar to South African rand)*.

    $ 1 R 18.95
    $ 5 R 94.75
    $ 10 R 189.50
    $ 20 R 379.00
    $ 50 R 947.50
    $ 100 R 1,895
    $ 250 R 4,738
    $ 500 R 9,475
    $ 1,000 R 18,950
    $ 2,000 R 37,900
    $ 5,000 R 94,750
    $ 10,000 R 189,500
    $ 20,000 R 379,000
    $ 50,000 R 947,500
    $ 100,000 R 1,895,000
    $ 0.0528 R 1
    $ 0.2638 R 5
    $ 0.5277 R 10
    $ 1.0554 R 20
    $ 2.6384 R 50
    $ 5.2768 R 100
    $ 13.19 R 250
    $ 26.38 R 500
    $ 52.77 R 1,000
    $ 105.54 R 2,000
    $ 263.84 R 5,000
    $ 527.68 R 10,000
    $ 1,055 R 20,000
    $ 2,638 R 50,000
    $ 5,277 R 100,000

    More amounts

    *Converted at the current USDZAR interbank exchange rate. Calculate actual payout amounts for Send Money and Travel Money exchange rates.

    Send Money to South Africa - Best Rates

    To get a good (and fair) exchange rate when sending money to South Africa you need to find and compare exchange rates for International Money Transfers (IMTs).

    The available FX rates for sending money abroad can be very different to the mid-market (wholesale) rate which you see reported online and in the News.

    You should especially compare your own bank's exchange rates to those available from Money Transfer specialists to see how much you can save - we make that calculation easy in the below table.

    Get a better deal for foreign transfers to South Africa

    When sending money to South Africa it’s important to compare your bank’s rates & fees with those we have negotiated with our partner money transfer providers. To get a better deal you should follow these 4 simple steps :

    1. Open an account with a BER reviewed FX provider (id docs may be required)
    2. You specify the local or South African rand amount you want to transfer
    3. Make a local currency domestic transfer for the requested amount to the provider's bank account in your country
    4. Once your funds are received by the provider the converted ZAR amount will be transfered to the recipient account you specify in South Africa.

    Use the above calculator to compare the exchange rates of FX specialist providers rates versus your bank's standard rates you can hopefully save around 5% and maybe more - end result is more South African rand deposited into the recipient bank account and less margins and fees kept by the banks!


    Expat Money & Business Guide to South Africa

    Managing your money effectively while living and working abroad can be challenging, but there are several steps you can take to ensure that your finances are in order.

    By following these tips and managing your money effectively, you can reduce financial stress and enjoy your experience living or doing business in South Africa.

    Is it safe in South Africa?

    South Africa has a high crime rate, and certain areas or neighborhoods can be dangerous for foreigners. However, many areas are safe and tourist-friendly. It is important to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings, avoid carrying valuables and stay in well-populated areas. Americans travelling to South Africa are recommended to check the U.S. Department of State website for travel advisories and to register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.

    What is the cost of living in South Africa?

    The cost of living in South Africa is relatively low compared to other countries in the world. However, it is important to note that the cost of living can vary greatly depending on the specific location within the country.

    How is the expat life in South Africa?

    The expat life in South Africa can be very exciting. There are many different things to do and see, and the people are friendly and welcoming. There are also some great opportunities for work and for business.

    Any laws in South Africa that foreigners should be aware of?

    There are a few things that foreigners should be aware of when travelling to South Africa. These include:

    -It is illegal to drink alcohol in public places

    -It is illegal to walk around without a shirt on in public places

    -It is illegal to take photos of certain buildings, such as Parliament

    -It is illegal to drive without a valid driver's license

    What is doing business like in South Africa?

    Doing business in South Africa is quite difficult due to the high crime rate, as well as the vastness of the country. Corruption is also a big problem, which makes doing business quite difficult.

    How is the economy in South Africa?

    The economy in South Africa is difficult to define because it is so diverse. There are developed industrial sectors, as well as large informal economies. Overall, the economy has been struggling in recent years due to high levels of unemployment, corruption, and inequality.

    Managing your finances in South Africa

    Here we list some key points for expats and businesses to consider when managing financial dealings in South Africa:

    1. Understand South African rand currency exchange rates: Exchange rates can have a big impact on your finances, so it is important to keep an eye on the ZAR exchange rate and consider using a currency exchange service or a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees to get the best exchange rate.

    2. Use a local South African rand bank account: A local ZAR bank account can make it easier for you to manage your finances and pay bills while you are in South Africa. It may also be more convenient to use a local ZAR bank account to make purchases and withdraw cash.

    3. Research local laws and regulations: It is important to understand the local laws and regulations that apply to financial transactions in South Africa. This can help you avoid legal issues and ensure that you are complying with local requirements.

    4. Consider the tax implications: It is important to understand the tax implications of living or doing business in South Africa. This can help you plan your finances and ensure that you are paying the correct amount of tax.

    5. Seek financial advice: If you are unsure of how to manage your finances in South Africa, it is a good idea to seek the advice of a financial professional who is familiar with the local financial system. This can help you make informed decisions and avoid financial pitfalls.


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