The official currency in South Africa is the Rand (ZAR).
The currency takes its name from Witwatersrand, the ‘ridge of white waters’ upon which Johannesburg is built. One rand is worth roughly 6p, so a R100 note is just under £6, though exchange rates fluctuate daily. Notes range from 10 rand up to R200. They bear the images of Nelson Mandela and the Big Five game animals. There are also coins ranging from one cent through 10c (worth about half a penny) to 50c.
If you don’t have time before you leave, there are plenty of places to exchange money in South Africa. The minute you step off the plane, you’ll see banks, money exchanges and ATMs. Don’t be tempted to change money with unlicensed traders in the street. They may say they offer a good deal but you risk getting cheated or robbed, so stick to the many banks and established exchanges. Hotels may also swap your money for you.
You’ll also be able to withdraw rand from a local cash machine, as there are plenty of ATMs around the country, even in rural towns. But make sure you’re aware of any charges and limits your bank may have as some may charge you to withdraw in a foreign country.Credit cards like MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted in most places, though be on the alert for fraud. We also suggest having some cash to hand for markets and tipping. Occasionally, sterling and dollars may be taken in tourist areas, but the locals much prefer rand. If you cross any borders during your holiday, it’s worth noting that the rand is also accepted in the Common Monetary Area which includes Swaziland, Lesotho and Namibia.