Avoid using Credit Cards in Uganda – Rwanda – it costs too much

Posted by on March 5, 2019

Avoid using Credit Cards in Uganda – Rwanda – you will save money

Save Money by not using Credit Cards in Uganda – Rwanda


 Avoid using Credit Cards in Uganda – Rwanda – Credit Cards in Uganda – Rwanda mean added fees, Potential Theft of credit card information and potential credit card freeze by your bank since you are using the card in an unknown location and have not notified the bank of using your card in Uganda or Rwanda.

Westerners are used to making most purchases via their credit card from restaurants to grocery stores – Welcome to Uganda – Rwanda where we are for the most part a Cash-Based Society. 

Why Avoid using Credit Cards in Uganda – Rwanda. The US Dollar rules here – it is the second currency here and many transactions are done via the US Dollar – from hotels to park entrances, Gorilla and Chimpanzee Permits to payments to tour operators. Use cash whenever possible.


Reasons Why you should Avoid using Credit Cards in Uganda – Rwanda?


  • Added Fees:  In the West you use your credit card for a purchase  and that is what shows up on your  statement at the end of the month – use your credit card to pay for your safari in Uganda-Rwanda – you will pay a minimum of 5% more – in some cases tour operators charge you 10% above the price. Hotels, Restaurants, Shops that do take credit card will all add a processing fee charge of at least 5%, I found one person on Frommers Forum being charged 17%.  Merchant Banking services are handled in many cases not inside of Uganda or Rwanda but in Kenya as is the case with Barclay Bank all adding more fees.  Don’t use your card and save at least 5%. We have a cash price on safaris and a credit card price – our Credit Card fee is 3.5%.
  • Potential Theft: That smiling person behind the counter makes a 100 USD dollar a month – they have many needs in their life, add to that the greed factor.  Now you have need and greed combined – your card is plastic – you are a Westerner – to the Ugandan behind the counter meaning – unlimited resources – a little something extra removed would not hurt you (in their mind) – you look at your statement at the end of the month, surprise, surprise.  Credit Card fraud and thefts have been on the rise in Uganda or Rwanda and become more sophisticated, credit card fraud or theft has even been reported in major International Hotels.
  • Credit Card Freeze by your Bank: Many Visitors to Uganda – Rwanda have wanted to pay with their credit card or even just withdraw money from an ATM Machine only to find that their card will not work.  Many Western Banks freeze accounts for places in Sub-Sahara Africa – unless you tell your bank that you will be using it in Uganda – Rwanda– you just might be out luck – meaning phone calls to your bank office – emails and often more.  PayPal does not operate in Sub-Sahara Africa.  The preferred choice of Credit Card in Uganda – Rwanda is Visa, even at ATM Machines.
  • Inconvenience: Most Establishments here that allow credit cards rarely use the system and confusion can set in.  International hotels will most often have a swipe card system, others will not, depending on which Bank’s merchant services they use.  It can take a lot of time, a bit of frustration and potential errors.

Best Advice for Credit Card Use in Uganda – Bring Cash – Use ATM Machine


  • What about Travellers Cheques?  You cannot get them cashed in many places and when you do you have to also bring in the purchase receipt for permits and your passport.  You will receive a substantially reduced rate over cash.  You can use Travellers Cheques at most major banks, some lodging facilities do accept them for payment but at a loss to you. Using Travellers Cheques in Rwanda is quite limited and even more of a chore than in Uganda.
  • What about ATM Machines?  They are there in most towns where there is a branch of a bank such as  Barclay’s, Standard Chartered, etc.  Use a Visa ATM card for success.  Maximum withdrawal for the day varies between 500,000 to 600,000 Shillings for a day. At Barclay Bank, they say the limit is 500,000 Shillings, but you can withdraw 400,000 first and then 400,000 more until you reach your daily limit with your home bank.  If your card is eaten by the machine, you can go to the bank on the next business day with passport and get it back.  Withdrawal amounts have greatly increased with some banks in Uganda and Rwanda.
  • US Dollars are the Best Currency to Bring to Uganda: Most things are priced in USD, there is a handful of European Lodging operators that price out their lodgings at Euros, but they will not refuse your US Dollars. When bringing US Dollars – they need to be 2003 – Rwanda 2006 or newer – be clean – not heavily used or have tears on them.  Just clean and crisp US Dollars – also stick to 50 and 100 US Dollar Bills – anything less will get you less in an exchange rate.

Why Avoid using Credit Cards in Uganda – Rwanda? – hopefully, you have seen why and will use alternate ways to pay for things in Uganda or Rwanda.  Cards can be a hassle in East Africa when they are a convenience in your home-country.


Avoid using your Credit Cards in Uganda – Rwanda – If you have any questions – please ask and we will try to answer your credit card questions since it is a most important issue for most visitors to Uganda or Rwanda.