Money and tipping

South Africa's currency. Photo courtesy ヘザー heza

South Africa’s currency unit is the rand (sign: R; code: ZAR), which is made up of 100 cents (c). It takes its name from the Witwatersrand (“ridge of white waters”), the ridge on which Johannesburg is built and where most of South Africa’s gold deposits were found. Rands are available as banknotes in R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200 denominations; coins come in denominations of R1, R2 and R5, as well as 5c, 10c, 20c and 50c.

You can change currency at banks or bureaux de change. There are banks in all main centres, usually open from 09h00 to 15h30 on weekdays, and 08h30 to 11h00 on Saturdays. Automatic teller machines are widely available 24 hours a day. For an updated currency conversion or exchange rate, visit www.xe.net/currency.  

There are no foreign currency restrictions upon entering South Africa, but it is advisable to carry most of your funds in credit cards and travellers cheques and to minimise the amount of hard, foreign cash that you carry. All major credit cards are accepted but Visa and Master cards are preferred.  American Express and Diners Club work in some places but are not popular because of the large commission payments they demand.

A service charge is not usually included in restaurants; a tip of 10% of the bill is standard, with exceptional service qualifying for 15%. Tipping of porters, taxi drivers and petrol attendants is common, but not obligatory.