The South African unit of currency is the Rand (R), which is divided into 100 cents. The coin denominations are; 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2 and R5. The notes are R10,00, R 20,00, R 50,00, R 100,00 and R 200,00. The exchange rate tends to fluctuate but rates in April 2004 were;
South Africa's banking system is extensive, efficient and easily accessible. Banks offer a wide range of services, including cash withdrawals, foreign exchange, electronic transfers (wiring) and cashing of traveller's cheques and PIN withdrawals. If your card belongs to the worldwide Cirrus network, you should have no problem using your card.
There are a number of branches of the major banks, and Automatic Teller Machines (ATM's). ATM's can be found in shopping centres, at some petrol stations, and in the centre of most cities and towns. Some rural towns do not have ATM's so please keep cash at hand when travelling to the smaller towns and villages in the Cape. If you need to go into the bank, withdrawals can be done over the counter using your passport. Many banks provide foreign exchange facilities. International electronic transfers are also available at most banks - enabling you to send or receive money from overseas. Banks also provide guidance, support and assistance with any banking questions you may have. South African banks also provide convenient and secure Internet banking services.
For more information on South African banks, visit the websites of South Africa's major banks:
• ABSA: www.absa.co.za
• First National Bank: www.fnb.co.za
• Standard Bank: www.standardbank.co.za
• Nedbank: www.nedbank.co.za
Hours of Business
Banking hours vary but are generally from 09:00 to 15:30 on weekdays. On Saturdays banks open at 09:00 and close at 11:00. Banks are closed on Sundays and Public Holidays. Some smaller branches have limited operating hours - if you're going to a small village or rural area, check with the local banks to be sure of their operating hours. The majority of the province's hundreds of ATM's are 24-hour facilities, enabling you to do your banking whenever you choose. However, there are ATM's that closes after 17h00 on week days and 13h00 on weekends. ATM's may not be available in small villages.
Cape Town International Airport has 24-hour foreign exchange facilities. Cape Town and bigger towns have a variety of foreign exchange options to choose from. Rennies Travel is the agent for Thomas Cook and will also change other cheques. American Express has foreign exchange branches in Cape Town and other major towns. Most banks also do foreign exchange transactions. Generally, banks offer the most competitive rates. Many hotels and backpacker's hostels also offer foreign exchange services.
Credit cards, especially Visa and Master Card are widely accepted. Nedbank is the official agent for Visa and Standard Bank for Master Card. American Express and Diners Club are also accepted. Not all services have credit card facilities and credit cards cannot be used to pay for petrol (fuel). It is recommended that you keep some cash for these outlets and petrol stations.
South Africa has adopted a Value Added Tax system of 14% on purchases and services. If you are a foreign visitor to the Cape, you can reclaim your VAT on purchases over R 250, 00 that are taken out of the country unused. There are a number of VAT refund offices. You may find it convenient to use Airport offices or the VAT Refund kiosk at the V&A Waterfront or at Cape Town Tourism Visitor Information Centre in Burg Street, Cape Town. Leave yourself enough time to do this - you'll need your original tax invoice and your passport, and will need to fill in a form and have the goods you bought available for inspection. For more information see www.taxrefunds.co.za
Tipping and Bargaining
Tipping is an accepted practice in the Cape. Tipping in bars and restaurants is normally between 10% and 15%. Tipping taxi drivers and petrol attendants is also a common practice at about 10%. "Car guards" normally get a few rand for their services. Bargaining is not a South African habit but it is worth asking about special deals and any discounts that may apply.