How to Handle Money Matters While Travelling in Tanzania
Tanzanian currency is Tanzanian Shilling. First two things you have to know about money matters in Tanzania is that don’t bring travellers cheques with you, as they are not accepted anymore. And the second thing, bring US Dollar bills. Tanzania loves dollars. Dollars are widely accepted, sometimes even preferred over local currency. Euros are acceptable but not so much than dollars.
The only catch with US Dollar bills is, that banknotes have to be issued after 2006. In opposite case you will be refused at money exchange offices and will not be able to spend the money.
- US Dollar bills issued before 2006 are also not accepted in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda. Take it as general rule for travel to East Africa.
- Paying with dollars is possible in all better establishments in Tanzania, from hostels to up market safari lodges including safari agencies. As you will notice when doing research for Tanzania holidays, most of businesses quote prices in US Dollars.
- For local shopping and smaller expenses, like shopping on markets and local restaurants, bus tickets Tanzanian shillings are must to have in your wallet.
- Prices in Dollars are oftentimes quoted higher than in Tanzanian Shillings, therefore is good to exchange the dollars to TSH.
- To exchange money in Forex office, you will have to show your passport. Forex offices have fair exchange rates. Do not exchange money on the street.
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Credit Cards and ATMs
Can I get US dollars from an ATM in Tanzania? No, you cant! I dont know why this is such a frequent question from travellers, but people actually ask that. No, you cant, like you can not withdraw Tanzanian Shillings in USA from ATM.
Since we cant walk around with pockets full of hundreds of dollars, credit cards come handy. And in Tanzania, at least bigger cities like Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Moshi, etc have ATMs. To withdraw money from ATM in Tanzania, you can use debit or credit cards.
Best and safest option is to have VISA with you, Mastercard is accepted on some ATMs, while withdrawals with VISA are always possible. Maestro Cirrus cards are ok too, but check in your bank to make sure you will be able to use ATMs. Prior departure, usually US travelers have to inform the bank of future withdrawals in Africa. Make sure you inform the bank you intend to use ATMs in Tanzania. Otherwise bank might block your card, due to security measurements.
Add 10 – 15 % surcharge for Payments With Credit Card
Safari operators and hotels accept credit cards, but expect to pay additional surcharge with each payment, between 5 up to 15 percent. Ask always if additional charge will be billed to the service you plan to pay with credit card.
Have Extra Cash on The Side For Emergency Purposes
ATMs may sometimes be offline or empty, therefore it is good to always have hidden sum of money on the side.
Along with using ATMs, it is good idea, to always count the money in order to double check of requested withdrawal is actually given from ATM. Always print the withdrawal receipt from ATM.
According to our travel experience, when dealing with ATMs in Tanzania, Barclays’s ATMs turned out most reliable. Barclays’s ATMs in Arusha are located in Serengeti Road, next to Shoprite supermarket and also in Cinema Complex in Njiro area. Withdrawal limit on good ATMs is normally 400.000 TSH, lower at ATMs in rural areas.
Speaking of rural areas – if you plan to visit more rural Areas in Tanzania, withdraw money in the city and have some extra amount of cash on the side.
On Zanzibar ATMs Available Only in Stone Town
Those who are visiting Zanzibar beaches should know the ATMs are only in Stone Town. Nungwi and other beach destinations are currently still not a part of ATM network.There are no ATMs on Pemba and Mafia either.
There are several ATMs in Stone Town; the most reliable ATM in Stone Town is in main Barclays headquarters, short walk away from Malindi, but if you are in Shangani and around Fodhorani market you might want to take a taxi.
The other ATMs in Stone Town, tend to be out of order quite often, or lacking money. Other Atms from other banks for VISA or Mastercard credit card holders only are located in front of Rhada house Indian restaurant, on the first left alley right after you come out of the tunnel just few steps from Forodhani gardens.
Attention: Be really careful when withdrawing money from ATMs, always check the money given from ATM and the amount on receipt. It happened to me that ATM at Cinema Afrique, in Malindi Stone Town – the ATM gave out less money, and charged me full requested amount! Visit to bank that owned ATM didn’t help, nor did complain at my local bank.
Exchange Tanzanian Shillings Back to Dollars In Tanzania
Tanzanian shillings are only exchangeable back to US dollars in the country. There is no way to exchange them in other African countries. Good to know before laving the country!
Western Union Offices
There is also abundance of Western Union offices across Tanzania in case you run out of money; your friends and family can send it.
How Much Cash To Bring in Tanzania?
We are not going to tell you how much money you have to take with you to Tanzania, since everyone’s spending habits on vacation are different.
Here are some ideas to calculate your expenses.
- Visa need to be paid in cash!
- If you are going on safari, Kilimanjaro climb or any other activity that requires supporting staff, save some money for the tips. Tips on safari and Kilimanjaro climb are obligatory. Tour companies advise how much per day to pay to each team member, but count roughly from 15 to 25 dollars per person a day, depending on the role *drivers get more, porters get less,etc…
- Then there are tips in hotels and lodges, laundry services, drinks and souvenir shopping.
Keep Your Money Safe in Tanzania
No matter how fancy lodge or hotel of your stay is, keep money on a safe, locked place. In rooms use electronic safes, if available or hide money to some place in the bag and lock it with travel lock. Some hotels offer to save money in their reception safe, if you do so, make sure you get a written receipt with amount of saved money.
During the travel, have only small amount of money in your wallet and rest keep in a money belt, hidden under your clothes.