Practical and Helpful Rwanda – Money Information for Tourists – Visitors

Posted by on February 21, 2019

Rwanda -Helpful Money Information for Tourists – Visitors

Money tips and Advice – Information for travelers to Rwanda


Rwanda – Money Information for Tourists – Visitors.  Rwanda like much of East and Central Africa is mostly a cash-based society and though the Rwanda Franc is the Official Currency – the Currency of Choice for many is US Dollar due to much of the Tourist Based industry.  Here and there you can use your credit card, (Visa cards are most readily accepted, Master Card, is next, but not Discover Cards and American Express at a few spots) and usually it means 5%  or more surcharge for the privilege for using your card (due to fees that are incurred by merchants in Rwanda).

That means one needs cash while in the country.  Many hotels, safari companies, and airlines will ask for US dollars. Rwanda Francs will be accepted in many cases instead, not always at the market exchange rate.  Traveller Cheques are often harder to cash and are cumbersome requiring extra fees in banks and limited banks may even accept them in Rwanda.  Most Forex Bureaus will not take traveller cheques from you.  Below are some Rwanda – Money Information for Tourists – Visitors that if you are visiting you will find most helpful.


US Dollars- the currency of Choice in Rwanda

The Rwandan Franc is the official Currency in Rwanda but for Tourists, the US Dollar is the currency of Choice. Many prices, especially those for Tourists will be in US Dollars, Euros and UK Pound are ok for changing money into Rwandan currency.

It is important that you obtain dollar bills newer than 2003 and no tears or blemishes on them.  This helps with your exchange rate and getting them accepted. (2008 is  due to forgeries in times past).

It is best that you use 50 or 100 USD Bills for the best Exchange Rate – if you use smaller or older bills you will get less money in return.

Do not use US Dollars in restaurants, bars, souvenirs since you will lose money in the process.

Tips for Rwandans should not be in US Dollars but in Rwandan Francs.  Rwandan Francs can be immediately used by the person that you are tipping.


 Forex Bureaus are readily available in and around Kigali and other towns in Rwanda:

Forex Bureaus normally give you the most efficient service and best exchange rate with the least hassle.  At Banks you may have to wait longer, there are often lines whereas at most Forex Bureaus it is in and out.

If you try to exchange money at the hotel you are staying at, you may well be able to, however, you will often receive a lesser exchange rate – the same applies to the FOREX Bureau at Kigali International Airport.

At FOREX Bureaus – currency should be in 100 or 50 USD denominations – 2008 or newer bills, and no marks or blemishes on bills.

For peace of mind use an official Forex Bureaus change money at the hotel, Restaurant you lose in the exchange rates offered.


 Banks in Kigali and other towns in Rwanda:

You can always exchange money at a Bank and it might take a bit longer but in most cases you get a reasonable rate.  You can use your credit card to get cash at banks, it may take a bit of time and there are fees and more of a hassle with identification.

You can also change your traveller cheques there however contrary to suggestions from American Express Traveller Cheques you will need proof of purchase and passport to prove ownership of cheques you want to be cashed – you will also receive a lower rate than cash and it is quite a hassle and time-consuming process

Rwanda even has Banks on wheels that go into areas where there is no  5


 Using an ATM Machine in Rwanda:

If you have a visa debit card it is easy to get the best rate from your country’s currency converted into Rwandan Francs. This is quite convenient since you do not have a lot of currency on you.

There are possible draw-backs however and that include extra fees that you have to pay.  At times you may be unable to use your card in Rwanda, in Africa, if you did not notify your bank that you were traveling to Rwanda and that you would use your Bank Card to withdraw cash in Rwanda and any other African countries that you are visiting.

At times your bank may block withdrawals and that is easily rectified by going online to your bank account and verifying that it was you making attempts of withdrawal.

Visa Cards are your ATM Cards of Choice in Rwanda.


 Credit Card use in Rwanda

 Even the  UK government suggests not using credit cards in Rwanda due to the possibility of someone stealing your card information.  Cases of such have happened even in high-end hotels according to the UK government website.

Cases of employees stealing your credit card information has happened here and other African Countries.  If you have no other choice, the first choice of Credit Cards here is Visa and secondly Master Card – the latter is not always being accepted.

Companies such as Kabiza Wilderness Safaris that use PesaPal make it even easier to use credit cards and the charges are less than using a Bank Merchant Services that is available in Rwanda.

Avoid Using Credit Cards in Rwanda – however, the allow you dispute transactions that have been wrongly charged to your card.


 Traveller Cheques use in Rwanda: 

Use American Express ones only.  All the others you will have a harder time getting money or no money at all.  You will pay a fee for exchanging them into cash.  Plus in spite of suggestions from American Express, you will need proof of purchase and passport to prove ownership of the cheques you want to be cashed.  You will also receive a lesser exchange rate than using Cash.

The limited number of banks in Rwanda accept Travellers Cheques

Using Traveller Cheques in Rwanda becomes a nuisance and investment of time.  In the 21st Century, they are simply a hassle and there are easier ways such as using an ATM card at a Bank in Rwanda for you to get local currency.


 Money Safety: 

Wear a money belt around your waist to hide cash.  Use the safe in your Hotel, either in your room or the official Hotel Safe.  Put other vital documents with the money such as passport, airline tickets.

Make copies of passport, airline tickets and anything else that is an important document.

Never flash any money in public such as in restaurants or public places since it will attract unwanted attention and it will be your loss.

Never pull out large amounts of money in a restaurant, bar, market – it makes you a potential target that you certainly do not want to be.

Rwanda is a very safe country and hotel staff, for the most part, are quite honest.  However, do not flash your money around.  Stay safe and secure – that includes the cash you have on you.


 Money Changers: 

Avoid them.  At border crossings, you will be haunted by them and many are con-artists who can make you think you are getting one amount, while in reality, you will get a lot less. Even if you are counting along, their hands are quicker than your eyes.

Often at border crossings, you may be surrounded by money-changers which makes it quite confusing – avoid using money changers for peace of mind.

In Rwanda they can also be found near Forex Bureaus, just do not use them.

The best advice – avoid Money Changers at the Border – wait until you find a Forex Bureau in Kigali or use an ATM Machine at a bank.

Money Changing that is unregulated in Rwanda is a crime both for the money changer and the customer.


 Purchasing Items in Rwanda: 

Avoid using dollars when buying things such as crafts and souvenirs.  You will lose money in the process.  Convert your money to shillings at a Forex Bureau.  Try to use Rwandan Francs in most cases – anytime you use US Dollars to buy things you will lose money in the exchange rate that you will receive.

This includes paying for hotels that is priced in Rwandan Francs rather than in US Dollars

When buying local items, buying lunch or dinner stick to Rwandan Francs.

One thing you should definitely buy are handcrafted items by local artisans, pay for you purchases in Rwandan Francs and do not haggle too much.

Many hours are put into the arts and craft items with little return you might want to pay a bit more and contribute to the wellbeing of a Rwandan Family.


 Money Transfers: 

Best to use WorldRemit, Western Union or MoneyGram since you will get the money.  Bank to bank takes much longer and is tougher to get to.  Money transfers such as Western Union will be paid out in Rwandan Francs. WorldRemit is actually your best bet, it certainly costs less than Western Union.

f you need US dollars you can then buy them at a  Forex Bureau at a slight loss of money

You can now use Western Union or WorldRemit and send money directly to someone using an MTN Phone in Rwanda they go and receive the money from an agent in Rwanda.  The best way to send money to you is to use WorldRemit.

Do not use the described system in paying for a safari, use wire-transfer or Credit Cards.

This works well if you run out of Cash and your ATM Card will not work in Rwanda for one reason or another.


Hopefully, the Rwanda – Money Information for Tourists – Visitors will be helpful in making your time in Rwanda more enjoyable and worry-free.  Rwanda is a safe country and most of the time you will not have any problems with your money, you will simply be a bit safer.


Rwanda – Money Information for Tourists – Visitors – if you have any questions – contact us