USD in Zambia
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Nov 1, 2012 12:51 AM Last Post By: Resefeber
Oct 31, 2012 3:09 AM
USD in ZambiaDear Zambian travel experts,
does anyone have a current update on what do's and don'ts I should remember when traveling to Zambia (and Malawi) and bringing in USD?
1. Should I bring in large bills (50-100 USD) to exchange to Kwatchas? I understood the small bills will have a buy less Kwatchas when exchanged.
2. Should I only bring bills with the "small heads"?
3. Is it good to keep some USD cash to be on the safe side when traveling in Zambia? If yes, should I only have small bills for those situations?
4. Any other ideas or advice related to cash and currencies for traveling to Zambia right now?
We've already purchased the Visas in advance so no need to buy them locally.
Big thanks for any updates! :)
Oct 31, 2012 7:36 AM
I am currently traveling in Zambia and can only give you my experience in Zambia.
Firstly, all USD must be new editions (2006 for some denominations and 2009 for others). No creases, no marks.
There was a ruling in June 2012 that companies are not allowed to deal in USD and can only accept the local currency Kwacha. This has been my experience but I haven't been to game parks yet.
I would only bring large denominations ($50 and $100) as they can only be changed as the exchange bureau. They are not used in everyday transactions but it is alway nice to have a back up and they are valued. If you want to bring a couple of $20s, they might help you get out of a sticky situation but it is really safe and I haven't needed it.
The best way to access your money in larger towns and cities is via the ATMs. They all accept Visa cards, most don't accept your Master Card. Only Standard Charter bank ATMs will let you withdraw from your savings account if it is linked to your visa card (although I wouldn't count on it).
The maximum you can withdraw per day is 5 000 000 Kwacha ($1000 USD). This will take three transactions 2 x 2 000000 and 1 x 1 000000
Just a note, Zambia is changing its currency in January 2013 and dividing their currency by 1000
I hope this helps
Oct 31, 2012 8:44 AM
2Hi, I see you "include" Malawi in your post, be advised that the situation is very different. Also note that the Zambia Kwacha is worth a fraction of the Malawi Kwacha, although apparently Zambia is going to knock 3 noughts of the end in the New Year!
Malawi is different, in that currently cash is king, a better rate than the bank is obtained at a forex bureau, and bills can be paid with $US, if you use a card to draw cash from an ATM you will only get the official rate, forex will give a better rate, +5-10%. Also the number of atm’s away from the main cities is limited. Large (100) $US bill are looked on with suspicion, due to a lot of forgeries about. Don’t change at hotels etc., as they will give a rotten rate! NEVER “do a favour” for a vendor by changing their $100 bill to Kwacha (or any bill for that matter), they will say they can’t change it themselves, but it will almost certainly be a forgery!
Edited by: mpembeivan
Oct 31, 2012 12:08 PM
3Thanks for all the advice and input!
Ivan, thanks for opening up with info around Malawi as well. We will visit both countries and spend around one week in each of them and therefore the question of USD and Malawian Kwatcha is relevant. Do you think we can manage to exchange new and clean 50-100 USD bills to Malawian Kwatchas at the border (Chipata) or when reaching Lilongwe? In that case it would be easiest to calculate the budget for each country and reserve enough USD for both currencies plus a little extra "just in case".
Am I thinking right? :)
Oct 31, 2012 12:59 PM
4Hi, you will need some Malawi Kwacha for bus fares and the likes, so change a little at the border, BUT don’t change a lot, and be careful of money changers, don’t flash a wad, don’t hand over any notes until you have the currency in your hand (they have been known to do a runner when they got hold of the cash before handing over the local), and watch out as they are very good at switching notes. Wait until you get to Lilongwe, and ask at your first lodging, they will know the best current deal.
I suggest you transfer to the Malawi forum for any further enquiries, as there are some who have recently travelled there who are posting answers.
Nov 1, 2012 12:51 AM
(0 star Hotel)
From US$12.00 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$210.00 per night
(5 star Hotel)
From US$174.67 per night