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Foreign Exchange Guide to South Africa

Read this currency guide to South Africa with money transfer and travel tips.   [USD/ZAR=14.0596]

 
South Africa
Country Code:
ZA
Domestic Currency:
South African Rand
Symbol - Code:
R ZAR
Telephone Prefix:
+27

This is a foreign exchange guide to South Africa, the South African Rand currency plus ZAR transfers and travel tips.

In this South Africa currency guide we take a look at :

  1. South African Rand info - general info about the South African Rand
  2. South African Rand in the markets - recent ZAR moves and predictions from the FX markets
  3. Travelling in South Africa - currency & money saving tips
  4. Buying South African Rand cash online - travel money for South Africa
  5. Sending money to South Africa - save on South African Rand bank transfers to South Africa
  6. South African Rand exchange rates - latest & historic exchange rates.

South African Rand (ZAR) general currency information


What is the South African Rand currency code and symbol?

The three letter currency code for the South African Rand is ZAR and the symbol is R.


Which countries use the South African Rand?

It is the domestic currency in South Africa.

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.


South African Rand (ZAR) in the markets

2018 was a grim year for the rand: it lost 14 percent of its value against the US dollar and lost nearly 10 percent against the euro.

The rand started 2019 with a bang but began to falter in the latter stages of January after the South African Reserve Bank pointed to significant improvements in the inflation outlook and indicated that this meant it had less of an incentive to raise interest rates. The SARB predicted only one further increase in rates between now and the end of 2021, down from a predicted three increases in November.

At the time of writing (March-23), at an exchange rate of R14.5 per USD, the rand was bang in the centre of its September-January uptrend against the dollar, and similar could be said versus the euro (R16.4 per EUR).

This May’s general election might add some currency uncertainty given the divisions within South Africa's ruling ANC party but once the election dust has settled the rand will have benefitted, thinks a Standard Bank analyst, due to the “much-needed policy reforms” that the election will facilitate.

The interactive chart below shows the USD to ZAR exchange rate for the previous 3 months with rate alerts for days when the exchange rate moved up or down significantly or for 30 day highs and lows.


USD-ZAR 3 Month chart
USD-ZAR 3 Month chart
USDZAR currency converter

Travel, Currency and Money saving 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.

 

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.

 
Sending a LARGER foreign transfer? Request a Multi-Vendor Quote ▾
Travel Money Providers
Ratings & Reviews
Amount ZAR(R)Exchange RateFee USDTotal CostCurrency ServicesDelivery/CollectDeal Links
U.S. Bank Foreign Currency
U.S. Bank logo
13,160 ZAR
Compare
13.1606.36%Branch-
Banks - Average Rate
U.S. Bank logo Wells Fargo Bank logo
13,029 ZAR
131 ZAR
13.16$107.3%Branch-
Wells Fargo Bank logo
12,897 ZAR
263 ZAR
13.16$208.23%Branch-
 
Travelex Online US logo
12,200 ZAR
960 ZAR
12.20020^13.19%Online order, Branch pickup, Home delivery2-3 days
 

U.S. Bank logoU.S. Bank

U.S. Bank: Travel Money USD→ZAR
USD amount:$1,000 USD
Fee:0
Exchange Rate:13.16 (6.36% from mid-rate)
ZAR amount:13,160 ZAR
Total Cost:6.36%
Time:0:00 Local
Currency Services:Branch
Delivery/Collect:-
Rating:
: /5.0
Reviews:
 

Banks - Average Rate

Travel Money USD→ZAR
USD amount:$1,000 USD
Fee:$10 USD (1%)
Exchange Rate:12.3 (12.48% from mid-rate)
ZAR amount:13,029 ZAR
Total Cost:7.3%
Currency Services:Branch
Delivery/Collect:-
 

Wells Fargo Bank logoWells Fargo Bank

Wells Fargo Bank: Travel Money USD→ZAR
USD amount:$1,000 USD
Fee:$20 USD (Minimum fee)
Exchange Rate:13.16 (6.36% from mid-rate)
ZAR amount:12,897 ZAR
Total Cost:8.23%
Time:0:00 Local
Currency Services:Branch
Delivery/Collect:-
Rating:
: /5.0
Reviews:
Travelex Online US: Travel Money USD→ZAR
USD amount:$1,000 USD
Fee:$0 - No fees for Debit & Credit Cards
Exchange Rate:12.2002 (13.19% from mid-rate)
ZAR amount:12,200 ZAR
Total Cost:13.19%
Time:
Rate Fetched: Thu Apr 18 2019 22:15:04 GMT+0000 (UTC)
Currency Services:Online order, Branch pickup, Home delivery
Delivery/Collect:2-3 days
Rating:
 
: 4.3/5.0
Reviews:
 
 

South Africa Trip Checklist    

 
  1. Compare ZAR travel cash rates - probably why you are here!
  2. Search Hotel deals - Save on your accomodation in South Africa
  3. Lonely Planet - world's best travel guide (coupon and deals)

Sending money to South Africa

When searching around for information on how to get a good exchange rate when sending money to South Africa you need to start with finding out the latest South African Rand foreign-transfer exchange rate.

Then compare your bank's exchange rates to several licensed FX providers exchange rate and fees to see how much you can save (we make that calculation easy here).

Where in South Africa is popular for expats buying property?

Cape Town. Despite the strength of the rand (it has made sizeable gains against the dollar and the pound since the start of 2016), foreign buyers - notably those from Germany, Sweden and the UK - are increasingly active.


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 our Send to ZAR 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!

 
Sending a LARGER foreign transfer? Request a Multi-Vendor Quote ▾
Foreign Transfer Providers
Ratings & Reviews
Receive ZAR(R)Exchange RateFee USDTotal CostTransfer ServicesTransfer SpeedDeal Links
 
OFX logo
138,500 ZAR
Best Overall
13.850^1.45%Bank Transfers - Online & Phone, Foreign Currency Accounts1-2 days
Wells Fargo Bank logo
135,556 ZAR
2,944 ZAR
13.58183.55%Online, Branch, Bank Transfers2-3 days
HSBC logo
135,496 ZAR
3,004 ZAR
13.57$153.59%Online, Branch, Bank Transfers2-3 days
Banks - Average Rate
Bank of America logo U.S. Bank logo Wells Fargo Bank logo HSBC logo
134,687 ZAR
3,813 ZAR
13.55154.17%Online, Branch, Bank Transfers2-3 days
Bank of America International Money Transfers
Bank of America logo
133,848 ZAR
4,652 ZAR
13.52$1004.76%Online, Branch, Bank Transfers2-3 days
U.S. Bank International Money Transfers
U.S. Bank logo
133,848 ZAR
4,652 ZAR
13.52$1004.76%Online, Branch, Bank Transfers2-3 days
 
OFX: Foreign Transfer USD→ZAR
USD amount:$10,000 USD
Fee:0^ - No fees for BestExchangeRates users (normally $12 for smaller transfers)
Exchange Rate:13.85 (1.45% from mid-rate)
ZAR amount:138,500 ZAR
Total Cost:1.45%
Time:
Rate Fetched: Thu Apr 18 2019 22:02:55 GMT+0000 (UTC)
Transfer Speed:1-2 days
Services:Bank Transfers - Online & Phone, Foreign Currency Accounts
Rating:
 
: 4.8/5.0
Reviews:
 

Wells Fargo Bank logoWells Fargo Bank

Wells Fargo Bank: Foreign Transfer USD→ZAR
USD amount:$10,000 USD
Fee:18
Exchange Rate:13.58 (3.37% from mid-rate)
ZAR amount:135,556 ZAR
Total Cost:3.55%
Difference:
2,944 ZAR less than using OFX
Time:0:00 Local
Transfer Speed:2-3 days
Services:Online, Branch, Bank Transfers
Rating:
: /5.0
Reviews:
 

HSBC logoHSBC

HSBC: Foreign Transfer USD→ZAR
USD amount:$10,000 USD
Fee:$15 USD (.15%)
Exchange Rate:13.57 (3.44% from mid-rate)
ZAR amount:135,496 ZAR
Total Cost:3.59%
Difference:
3,004 ZAR less than using OFX
Time:0:00 Local
Transfer Speed:2-3 days
Services:Online, Branch, Bank Transfers
Rating:
: /5.0
Reviews:
 

Banks - Average Rate

Foreign Transfer USD→ZAR
USD amount:$10,000 USD
Fee:15
Exchange Rate:13.49 (4.01% from mid-rate)
ZAR amount:134,687 ZAR
Total Cost:4.17%
Difference:
3,813 ZAR less than using OFX
Transfer Speed:2-3 days
Services:Online, Branch, Bank Transfers
 

Bank of America logoBank of America

Bank of America: Foreign Transfer USD→ZAR
USD amount:$10,000 USD
Fee:$100 USD (1%)
Exchange Rate:13.52 (3.8% from mid-rate)
ZAR amount:133,848 ZAR
Total Cost:4.76%
Difference:
4,652 ZAR less than using OFX
Time:0:00 Local
Transfer Speed:2-3 days
Services:Online, Branch, Bank Transfers
Rating:
: /5.0
Reviews:
 

U.S. Bank logoU.S. Bank

U.S. Bank: Foreign Transfer USD→ZAR
USD amount:$10,000 USD
Fee:$100 USD (1%)
Exchange Rate:13.52 (3.8% from mid-rate)
ZAR amount:133,848 ZAR
Total Cost:4.76%
Difference:
4,652 ZAR less than using OFX
Time:0:00 Local
Transfer Speed:2-3 days
Services:Online, Branch, Bank Transfers
Rating:
: /5.0
Reviews:
 
 

ZAR/USD - South African Rand to United States Dollar - 10 Year History

DateExchange RatePeriod
07 Apr 20190.07091 Week
15 Mar 20190.06941 Month
16 Oct 20180.07056 Months
14 Apr 20180.08271 Year
14 Apr 20170.07452 Years
15 Apr 20140.09485 Years
16 Apr 20090.111410 Years

ZAR/EUR - South African Rand to Euro - 10 Year History

DateExchange RatePeriod
07 Apr 20190.06321 Week
15 Mar 20190.06121 Month
16 Oct 20180.06096 Months
14 Apr 20180.06711 Year
14 Apr 20170.07022 Years
15 Apr 20140.06865 Years
16 Apr 20090.084510 Years

ZAR/GBP - South African Rand to British Pound Sterling - 10 Year History

DateExchange RatePeriod
07 Apr 20190.05441 Week
15 Mar 20190.05211 Month
16 Oct 20180.05356 Months
14 Apr 20180.05811 Year
14 Apr 20170.05952 Years
15 Apr 20140.05675 Years
16 Apr 20090.074710 Years

ZAR/JPY - South African Rand to Japanese Yen - 10 Year History

DateExchange RatePeriod
07 Apr 20197.92211 Week
15 Mar 20197.73051 Month
16 Oct 20187.92286 Months
14 Apr 20188.88151 Year
14 Apr 20178.09122 Years
15 Apr 20149.65015 Years
16 Apr 200911.045910 Years

ZAR/AUD - South African Rand to Australian Dollar - 10 Year History

DateExchange RatePeriod
07 Apr 20190.09991 Week
15 Mar 20190.09781 Month
16 Oct 20180.09886 Months
14 Apr 20180.10661 Year
14 Apr 20170.09832 Years
15 Apr 20140.10135 Years
16 Apr 20090.154810 Years

ZAR/CAD - South African Rand to Canadian Dollar - 10 Year History

DateExchange RatePeriod
07 Apr 20190.09481 Week
15 Mar 20190.09261 Month
16 Oct 20180.09126 Months
14 Apr 20180.10441 Year
14 Apr 20170.09932 Years
15 Apr 20140.10415 Years
16 Apr 20090.134410 Years

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