Travel, Currency and Money saving tips for Zimbabwe
Throughout its past two decades of governmental mismanagement, political violence and economic disaster, Zimbabwe continued to welcome visitors with the same grace and politeness that they were famed for. And as a result those who did travel here usually left insisting that that the country was hands down one of the safest, friendliest and most spectacular countries on the continent.
Around 70% of Zimbabwe's 12 million people are Shona-speaking while some 20% are Ndebele speakers. English, the country's official language, is widely spoken and visitors to Zimbabwe are often struck by the friendliness and optimism of its people, despite recent hardships. The country is a profoundly religious one - nearly two thirds of the population attends church regularly - and some 85% consider themselves Christian.
What currency should I use in Zimbabwe?
The U.S. dollar is the official currency for governmental transactions in Zimbabwe. Also legal tender and widely accepted for non-governmental transactions are the Euro, the British Pound Sterling, the Pula, the South African Rand, plus several other currencies.You should check in advance if a restaurant or hotel will accept cards, especially outside Harare.
Most people rely on electronic bank transfers or mobile money to pay their bills, usually at a hefty premium.
Zimbabwe has introduced a local issue of Bond Coins to supplement the current money supply. The coins come the denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents - they are on par with American coins. In supermarkets, you may be given change in chewing gum or sweets if there is no coinage available. Haggling for a better price is common, but keep in mind that most people are very poor.
It’s illegal to leave Zimbabwe with more than $2,000 (or equivalent) in cash. It’s illegal to exchange foreign currency anywhere other than at officially licensed dealers (eg banks). Carry small denomination notes as change is rarely available in smaller businesses.
Can you use credit cards in Zimbabwe?
The use of credit cards is still very limited, with only a few service providers accepting VISA or MasterCards in Zimbabwe.
Can you withdraw cash from ATMs in Zimbabwe?
ATM use is very limited for non-citizens, so please do yourself a favour and come with plenty of cash on hand. Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a severe shortage of cash so it’s mostly not currently possible to make cash withdrawals with an international bank card.
What is the ATM withdrawal limit in Zimbabwe?
Banks allow customers to withdraw just $20 a day, not in real dollars but in local bond notes. Long queues form each morning.
How to travel around Zimbabwe?
Air Zimbabwe has flights from Harare to Bulawayo (45 minutes) and Victoria Falls. New to Zimbabwe is FastJet, a popular budget airline offering cheap flights to Victoria Falls from Harare. There’s a domestic departure tax of US$15. The only way by air from Harare or Vic Falls to Kariba is to charter, which is very expensive. The charter companies can arrange charter flights, which will seat four to six people to Kariba, Mana Pools and Matusadona National Park from Harare or Vic Falls.
The express or ‘luxury’ buses operate according to published timetables. Check carefully, however, as most bus companies have both local (‘chicken buses’ for locals) and luxury coaches. For example, Pioneer and Zupco have both luxury and chicken buses.
Taxis are safe and reliable and can be booked through your hotel front desk. Most are metered, charging around US$2.50 for 1km at the time of writing. Taxis in cities travel within a 40km radius of the city. Always take a taxi at night.
Connecting Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare and Victoria Falls, all major train services travel at night. The most popular route is from Vic Falls to Bulawayo. Definitely opt for first class, which is good value, comfortable and gets you a sleeping compartment.
Send Money to Zimbabwe - Best Rates
To get a good (and fair) exchange rate when sending money to Zimbabwe 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 Zimbabwe
When sending money to Zimbabwe 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 :
- Open an account with a BER reviewed FX provider (id docs may be required)
- You specify the local or Zimbabwean Dollar amount you want to transfer
- Make a local currency domestic transfer for the requested amount to the provider's bank account in your country
- Once your funds are received by the provider the converted ZWL amount will be transfered to the recipient account you specify in Zimbabwe.
Use the above Send to Zimbabwean Dollars 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 Zimbabwean Dollars deposited into the recipient bank account and less margins and fees kept by the banks!
Two years ago money in Zimbabwe was simple, everyone used the US dollar, introduced in 2009 after hyperinflation destroyed the Zimbabwean version.
Since then, however, banks have run out of real dollars because the cash-strapped and unscrupulous government grabs them in exchange for all-but-worthless IOUS.