Cash, travellers’ cheques or credit cards in Tanzania?
The question therefore is: in what form should you carry your money to Tanzania, ie: should you bring travellers’ cheques, cash, or rely solely on your credit card and use that to get money out of cashpoints in Tanzania?
Travellers’ cheques in Tanzania
Travellers’ cheques are no longer acceptable in Tanzania so don’t bring these.
Bringing cash to Tanzania
Foreign currency can be imported and exported without limit to and from Tanzania. Dollars and, to a lesser extent, sterling and euros are the best currencies to bring. Cash is very useful for those occasions when the Tanzanian shilling is not accepted, such as when paying for upmarket hotel rooms and air tickets, both of which, officially at least, must be paid for in hard currency. The disadvantage with cash is that it is the riskiest way to carry money.
Credit cards in Tanzania
The other option is credit/debit cards, which are the easiest, lightest and most invisible to carry around. There are now plenty of banks in Tanzania with ATMs that take foreign cards – making the task of getting Tanzanian shillings now very simple. Credit cards are also accepted in major tourist hotels, restaurants, gift shops and airline offices and their usefulness is growing every day. Visa is probably the more useful card in that you can withdraw money from more ATMs than with MasterCard.
You do, of course, run the risk that the cash machines will reject them or, worse, swallow them, leaving you stuck in Africa with no means of support. So for this reason we recommend bringing a couple of cards (assuming you have a couple of bank accounts!) just in case you lose one.
We advocate bringing credit/debit cards (preferably one Visa and one MasterCard, to increase your chances of being able to withdraw cash from an ATM), with a few hundred dollars in cash as back-up in case something happens to your card. How many dollars you bring, of course, depends on how much you’ve paid for in advance, how long you are staying in the region, and what you hope to do while you are there.
One more thing: when it comes to bringing dollars, make sure they are new notes. Notes printed before 2001 are seldom accepted and now even those printed before 2003 are usually refused.
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