Exchange Rates/Currency

Apr 23rd, 2011, 08:28 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 11
Exchange Rates/Currency

We are traveling from the U.S (from JFK airport in NY) to South Africa (J-burg) in 2 weeks and are need of suggestions on when/where the best place is to convert dollars to rands?....should we do this ahead of time? JFK? J-burg? thanks!
doughtwi is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2011, 08:38 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
I use an ATM machine in JNB terminal. And I use my bank debit, not credit, card. With debit card money comes directly out of my USA checking account so there is no time-interest charges. Only charge is the ATM fee (maybe $5?).

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2011, 10:18 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
As tom - use the ATM at JNB airport, once outside of Baggage Claim; best exchange rate. Use your debit card.

Also, advise your bank/s for your debit and/or credit cards that you will be traveling - where, dates - so they don't put a "hold" on your account. At the same time, ascertain if bank assesses a fee for foreign ATM withdrawals... most do, but it's a small fee. Withdraw sufficient whenever you hit the ATM, and know that it's easy enough to reconvert any left-over when departing for home, though you do loose a bit in the exchange... no big deal.

You can find ATMs most everywhere, i.e., Capetown, Johannesburg, other major cities, but not in the game parks (at least not last I visited), so have sufficient funds for when on safari - beverages, guide/tracker, staff tips.

Enjoy your holiday.
sandi is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2011, 11:24 AM
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Good point sandi makes about notifying you bank and CC about your overseas travel. Did had a CC stop payments one time (in Singapore). Cleared up with a phone call, but who needs it. Also, if at a safari camp, everyone I've been to lets me us a CC to settle accounts and to tip ranger and staff.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2011, 06:01 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
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I noticed the exchange booths at the airprt gave pretty decent exchange rates if you need larger sums. Whatever you do, do not exchange money in the US. When I tried to do it, the company wanted 15-20% fees and lower rates.

mytmoss is offline  
Apr 24th, 2011, 07:47 AM
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You always get the best rate of exchange once at the country visiting. And, since the ATMs are right there as you arrive, easy enough to do.

... and Tom is spot-on, many hotels, lodges/camps will accept your credit card to pay incidentals - beverages, tours, souvenirs (some even tips, but I feel those should be given direct to the recipient). Do remember though that many US CCs do assess a 3% foreign currency exchange fee, which has never dissuaded me. Of course, if your CC company doesn't... lucky you. Just best to know so you're not surprised when you get your statement.
sandi is offline  
Apr 24th, 2011, 07:32 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
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As a service worker, please tip in cash. There's no guarantee the person meant to get the tip you intend will actually receive it if on a CC. I give a personal note card with tips to guide, tracker and staff.

The BA Visa and Capital One don't charge a foreign transaction fee. We take two debit cards on two different accounts to be sure we can access cash and always tell our bank(s) that we will be in whatever country we are headed.

Not only is the ATM more convenient, but you will also get a decent exchange rate - the bank's rate as opposed to a published rate. If you are going to safari immediately, be sure to get enough cash at the airport. I almost forgot last time. Yikes!!
christabir is offline  
Apr 27th, 2011, 02:21 AM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 184
You may find there is a limit to the withdrawal amount, Rs 3000 I think.
braaiseason is offline  
Apr 27th, 2011, 05:11 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
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There may be a limit per transaction (I forget what it is), but then my bank allows up to three transactions within a certain time frame (24h?), so I just do the three transactions one right after the other if neccessary.
Femi is offline  
Apr 27th, 2011, 06:12 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 770
Regarding transaction limits, my experience has been that the limit often will be lower at the airport ATM than at bank ATMs away from the airport. I usually get the max at the airport ATM and, if necessary, supplement it by using ATMs in cities/towns.
sdb2 is offline  
Apr 28th, 2011, 02:39 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2010
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thank you all, very helpful. What is standard tip for game drives etc? you tip every drive or at the end of the week?
doughtwi is offline  
Apr 28th, 2011, 03:20 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
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I tip well. I figure 10%, so if it's $300/nt/person for your lodging, I give $20 pp/nt to the guide, 10 for the tracker and 5 for housekeeping ($40/$20/$10 per couple/nt) and round up to the nearest 10 Rands. OK, that's a little more than 10%, but it's flexible. Assuming you have the same guide for your stay, give at the end with a personal note of thanks. Same with tracker, and I leave my housekeeping tip in a note in our room during our last game drive. In S Africa I tip in Rands, in Botswana, Zim and Zam USD. We tip more if we are given outstanding service or if we are lucky enough to be the only couple in a vehicle, which happens occasionally.

I also try to get recipes from the kitchen staff. Usually they are thrilled to share.
christabir is offline  

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