With the South African unit of currency, the rand, offering favourable rates of exchange against the world's hard currencies, your South African holiday budget, even if modest, will go surprisingly far.  You'll find your purchasing power on the up with your pounds, dollars and euros, and those items you think about twice back home will seem extremely inexpensive here.  Five-star luxury is suddenly much more affordable. Check out the Big Mac Index when planning your holiday budget for South Africa.

Rands and cents

The rand is divided into 100 cents

Coins come in denominations of 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2 and R5

Notes come in denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200

Travellers cheques can be exchanged in banks, bureaux de change and some hotels. It is suggested you bring them in hard currencies.

Money can also be withdrawn at automated tell machines (ATM) of which there are many countrywide.

South Africa's ‘big 4' banks are Absa Bank, First National Bank, Nedbank and Standard Bank.

Banking hours are generally 09h00-15h30 on weekdays and 08h30 - 11h00 on Saturdays.

All major credit cards are accepted in the country, particularly MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Diners Club.  Be aware, however, that you can't purchase fuel on a credit card.

Most retail purchases carry a VAT levy of 14%, which is refunded to foreign tourists at departure points, subject to stipulated amounts spent, completion of the necessary forms and presentation of original tax invoices.

For more information on VAT refunds, duty and duty-free goods, see Traveller’s Guide to Customs (entry & exit).