6 Essential Tips for Handling Your Finances as You Travel to Zimbabwe

Since the 1990s, inflation has been a major problem in Zimbabwe. In fact, in 2009, the Zimbabwean Dollar was suspended indefinitely with trade mainly being conducted in the United States dollar (USD) with some using the Pound Sterling, Euro, Pula, and Rand. And, prior to his resignation, President Robert Mugabe introduced bond notes for use within the country. The bottom line is that the cash crisis continues in Zimbabwe, and there are a few things you should know before you travel to this beautiful country.

You Probably Will Not Be Able to Pay for Goods with Foreign Credit Cards

For some time now, non-Zimbabwean VISA cards have not worked at hotels and most other places. So, it is best not to rely on your foreign bank card. Before you leave, you must be sure that you pay for your accommodations when you are staying in a camp or hotel.

Bring Cash
Yes, it is important that you get financially organized before your trip and bring cash with you when you travel to Zimbabwe. However, wherever you enter the country, you will be expected to declare how much cash you are bringing. And, at the end of the trip, you cannot take any more than 1,000 USD out of the country.

Cash Is Helpful at Tollgates and Roadblocks
At tollgates, you will need cash. If you have a Zimbabwean bank account, you can supposedly use a card to swipe your way through, but these machines are known to malfunction. Plus, it is easy to get stuck in a non-swipe queue. If you are in a sedan, plan on having to pay a $2 toll at each gate.

Police will likely direct you to a police station far away if you ask to use your Zimbabwean bank card to pay at a roadblock. Currently, bond notes are accepted. Some motorists have been known to pay their roadblock fines in small bond coins.

Transferring Money to In-Country Accounts Won’t Help
If you are travelling to Zimbabwe to visit friends or relatives, you might be tempted to transfer money to their account before the trip. The logic is that you can easily withdraw the money once you arrive. However, this rarely works smoothly in practice. Most of the ATMs are empty, and the banks have long queues. Once it’s your turn, you can only get about $100 at a time.

Bond Notes Did Not Fix Things
Bond notes were introduced to keep hard currency, such as the US dollar, in the country. However, it has had the opposite effect by removing real dollars. These days, you pretty much find exclusively bond notes in markets, shops, and banks.

Foreign Cash Is King
Zimbabwean authorities are advising people not to panic about the spread of the bond notes. However, it’s clear that citizens are slow to believe officials. Therefore, your best bet is to avoid bond notes altogether (if possible) and rely on the cash you travel with.

Though the cash crisis in Zimbabwe is precarious, that does not mean your trip to the country needs to be. Follow the tips above, and you are sure to have an excellent time.