Paying with cash

South Africa is one of a few countries that has foreign exchange controls in place.

This means that you cannot freely (easily) trade in Rands outside of South Africa and you cannot freely (easily) trade with foreign currency within South Africa without being asked a list of questions and/or showing your passport at least.

It is highly recommended that you do exchange some money into Rands before departing from your home country. This is suggested because for example shoe shine services at airport, tips for bag helpers at airport is payable with cash.

Read about how to or if you should leave a tip under our Tipping section.

Paying with credit cards

Paying with a credit/debit card in South Africa is normal and most South Africans will use their credit/debit card to pay most things.

Please take note that at no time should anyone take your debit/credit card from you (like in a restaurant) to go and swipe the card. The credit/debit card machine is always brought to you and the debit/credit card will be inserted in front of you and the machine will be given to you to enter your pin in code. Even if no pin code is required, then either they still have to bring the credit/debit card machine to you OR you go to the credit/debit card machine.

Never lose sight of your credit/debit card and never hand it to anyone to take it somewhere to swipe for payment.

In South Africa you might also be asked or see on the debit/credit card machine a question “Straight or Budget”. This is a very typical system in South Africa where their credit cards limits are split into two: A straight facility payable at the end of the month and a Budget facility payable over a period of months.

If this option comes up on the screen or if they ask you, then you just answer “Straight”, unless you have the same two limits set up on your credit card.

Read about how to or if you should leave a tip under our Tipping section.

Nearly all businesses accept the two major credit cards (VISA and MASTERCARD). American Express, Diners Club cards and similar high end credit cards are not always accepted everywhere.

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