Money / credit card / debet card
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Mar 26, 2013 7:51 PM Last Post By: alex14
Mar 21, 2013 4:34 AM
Money / credit card / debet cardHi,
I'm busy deciding how much money I'll take to my trip to Malawi and which cards I'll take for getting money from an ATM. I've got a mastercard credit card and a visa credit card for getting money from an ATM. I also want to get a prepaid mastercard creditcard. That will give me 3 cards, so no problem if one of them gets lost or won't work at a certain bank.
Does anyone know if a prepaid mastercard creditcard will work in Lilongwe, Mzuzu and / or Karonga?
Does a maestro debetcard work in Lilongwe, Mzuzu and / or Karonga?
Anyone an idea how much money will be enough to start with? I'll be travelling to the project I'll be volunteering immediatly, just 2 sleep overs, no excursions. Will do some sightseeing during the weekends. (It's difficult to imagine how expansive / cheap things are in Malawi, so hope someone can help me)
Mar 21, 2013 8:45 AM
1You will need a visa card for getting money out of bank machines anywhere in Malawi. I went to Malawi the last 2 years for vacation and worked there several years ago and I never saw any banks or businesses that accept Mastercard. Only visa. I do not know about debit cards because I always put money on my visa before I left and withdrew money that way from the ATMs. I also took some US dollars and exchanged them on the street since you get a little better rate. I liked to stay in good clean but basic guesthouses when I there which were between $20 and $30 a night usually. If you go with that type of accommodations then including food and transportation and other spending money you can get by easily on less than $50 a day. You could easily get by on half that if you want but it depends on the types of things you want to do and your standards. I always felt I lived like a king on that type of budget there. You can have a good lunch for about $4. Beer is less than $1. Enjoy. It is a great country.
Mar 21, 2013 11:51 AM
Mar 21, 2013 11:59 AM
I was in Malawi last year (spring) for one month (tourist) and used my Visa card only one time in the ATM of the Standard Bank in Dedza.
Because I was using cash, I can say only few things but all the Standard Bank (ATM) accept Visa and Maestro/Cirrus cards (according you can use them (debit cards) outside your country. As Belgian I need to ask if I go outside Western Europe)
I don't remember well if you can use MasterCard but it's easy to have cash in "big cities" (the big three: Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu) from ATM or at exchange offices.
In some remotes places, it's sometimes not so easy if you have only one ATM or few banks.
Mar 22, 2013 6:44 AM
Mar 23, 2013 6:49 AM
We just took cash and guarded it carefully! You want to be sure to bring enough (USD or Euros) to get you through the early part of your trip. At the airport, change enough to kwacha to get you through your travels north, as you may not have time in Lilongwe/Mzuzu to hunt up ATM's or banks. We found that the rates at LLW were not much different from in town. A bank account debit card will cost you less in fees for cash advances than a credit card.
You need to remember some things about ATM's in Malawi:
-not a whole lot of them
-they don't always work (power outages, out of cash, etc.)
-there is a withdrawal limit, which may leave you short of funds
There have been reports in this forum of an "departure tax" payable only in foreign currency at the airport (we did not have this as US citizens). Try to find out what currencies are acceptable, how much, and hang on to that amount if you might be required to pay it.
Mar 23, 2013 9:55 AM
6Hi the departure tax is included in the price of the ticket (as of several years now) so is no longer required, it was originally $30US, ONLY payable in US$ Some web sites still refer to this fee. IF this has been re-instated, (I am not aware of this), there is a bank in the airport where a few $US can be bought. (once I had to buy some dollars for the fee, but the bank had no $, so I had to wait till a passenger paid for the fee, the $20 (at that time) was then deposited at the bank, (via the back door of the bank) and then reissued over the counter. The same $20 bill went round and round several times until some passengers arrived with enough US$ !! (BTIA)
Currently there is a shortage of forex in the country (again) so a better rate of exchange can be obtained with cash from a forex bureau than the banks or a debit/credit card, which will only give the official rate.
Mar 24, 2013 1:14 PM
Thanks to everyone who answered my questions!
@Nathalie2, you understood my post correctly.
@Spoes, do you mean the creditcards you used at the ATM's in the big cities didn't work in Karonga? Karonga will be the city where I will have to get money when I ran out.
@TexasTea, Good to know I can change some of de USD I will bring to MK. I was hoping I could, because I'm not sure if I've got enough time to get Kwacha in Lilongwe / Mzuzu, like you said as well.
@Ivan, I'll take USD on my trip, so it won't be a problem to pay the departure tax (in case it's been re-instated).
Mar 25, 2013 3:16 PM
Mar 26, 2013 8:30 AM
9Hey Alex. You can probably get an answer to that more quickly on the google Lilongwe Chat board. You'll need a google account to join and post though.
Mar 26, 2013 9:13 AM
I accidently posted this same post three times, on one of the others jillie12 said:
"I know that a little over a year ago, the maximum one could take from the ATM was MK20.000. You were able to do that 5 times a day. Of course at that time the rate was MK200 to €1. now its almost MK500 to €1. Now that it's 40.000 as a maximum (that's only if the 1000 bills are available, if they are finished, it will spit 500's with a max of 20.000 per withdrawal). "
Mar 26, 2013 7:51 PM
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