Uganda Money Information and Tips for Tourists – Travelers
The Best Uganda Money Information – Tips – Advice for Travelers
Uganda Money Information – Tips – Advice for Travelers – –Uganda, for the most part, is a cash-based society and although the Uganda Shilling is the official Currency – the Currency of choice, Commerce and Tourism is the US Dollar. 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, except in a few spots) and usually it means 5 to 6 or more% surcharge for the privilege of using your card (due to fees that are incurred by merchants in Uganda by Banks).
That means one needs cash while in the country. Many hotels, safari companies, airlines, Uganda Wildlife Authorities for Gorilla Permits and Park Fees will ask for US dollars. Ugandan Shillings 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. Most Forex Bureaus will not take traveller cheques from you.
Below are some Uganda Money Information – Tips – Advice for Travelers that will be of great help to you.
Practical Uganda Money Information – Tips – Advice for Travelers
Many prices, especially those for Tourists will be in US Dollars, Euros and UK Pound are ok for changing money into Ugandan 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. (2003 is due to forgeries in times past, including by an American).
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.
Forex Bureaus are readily available in the downtown area of Kampala:
The ones at the Grand Imperial Hotel gives you the best rates in town. Late at night, you can also go into Kampala Casino and they will give you a good rate since they will think that you are gambling it away.
Look into the daily newspapers for today’s rate. Avoid the Forex Bureau in Kabalagala, they will consistently give you one of the lowest rates around (personal experience) and they also give you the hardest time with the slightest imperfection on a bill. In other words – check around for the best rates.
You can also check for the latest rate – type into Google USD – UGX and you will have the current exchange rate for the day, though you will receive less than the posted figures.
Banks in Uganda:
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.
You can also change your traveller cheques there, however contrary to suggestions from American Express Traveller Cheques you will need proof of buy and passport to prove ownership of cheques, you want to be cashed – you will also receive a lower rate.
Never pay a hotel bill with Traveller Cheques, you will lose too much money in the process.
If you have a visa debit card it is easy to get the best rate from your country’s currency converted into Shillings. The limit is what your home bank sets per day with the opportunity that you can put your card in again and take out more money- normally up to the daily limit your bank allows at home, which you in many cases can also reset.
Use a Visa ATM card, not having a Visa ATM will cause you some grief at most Bank ATM machines in Uganda. Master Card is not the Debit or Credit Card that is preferred here for some reason.
Safety and Security Issues with ATM Machine are addressed in the above link. Always attempt to use an ATM that gives you a bit of privacy and shield your pin number input. Do not allow any so-called good Samaritan to assist you, they are local con artists.
Even the UK government suggests not using credit cards in Uganda 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.
Companies such as Kabiza Wilderness Safaris that use PesaPal make it even easier to use credit cards and the charge are less than using a Bank Merchant Services that is available in Uganda.
It might come as a surprise to you but if for example, a hotel rate is 100 USD per night, you will have a 5% minimum service charge added onto your bill making it a 105 USD – this is common here, even if there is nothing to suggest a service charge, it has been added to the price.
Use American Express ones only. All 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 not to reveal such information 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.
Using Traveller Cheques in Uganda becomes a nuisance and investment of time often with moments of frustration added. The best advice is, do not bring Traveller Cheques, use an ATM card instead.
Wear a money belt around your waist to hide cash. Use a safe in the Hotel to put your airline ticket and your passport. Make copies of passport, airline tickets and anything else that is an important document. Put all of those items in a Sealed Envelope.
If you do not have a money belt, put the cash in your pocket, not a back pocket where you can put your hand over it as you walk in downtown Kampala.
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 flash large amounts of money in a restaurant, bar, market – it makes you a potential target that you certainly do not want to be.
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. One can almost guarantee you that you will be cheated. Fake Ugandan currency is also used at times.
It is best to go to a Forex Bureau or a Bank and not use a Money Changer. Money Changers are primarily found at point of entry into Uganda and rarely in larger towns such as Entebbe or Kampala.
The best advice – avoid Money Changers at the Border.
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 Uganda Shillings in most cases – anytime you use US Dollars to buy things you will lose money at the exchange rate that you will receive.
That includes paying for hotels that are priced in shillings with US Dollars. Use your US Dollars sparingly and try to use Uganda Shillings -UGX- whenever you can.
When it comes to Taxis – Uber Taxis are now available in Kampala. When it comes to the few metered Taxis – called for Hire here, negotiate a rate otherwise you will pay extra as your meter runs in Traffic Jams in Kampala.
Best to use Western Union or MoneyGram since you will get the money. Bank to bank takes longer and is tougher to get. Money transfers such as Western Union will be paid out in Uganda Shillings. If you need US dollars you can then buy them at a Forex Bureau.
You can now use Western Union and send money directly to someone using an MTN Phone in Uganda and they go and receive the money from an agent in Uganda.
The Best Way to send money to someone in Uganda is to use WorldRemit, also PesaPal has an even lower price system – the money is transferred in two hours to your MTN Mobile Money Phone account and the fees are very low.
The present exchange rate in Uganda for the US Dollar means bargains for Tourists As of July– 2016 the exchange rate of the US Dollar to Uganda Shilling is 3370 UGX.
This can mean some real bargains for tourists and visitors to Uganda is you follow certain rules: Stay in Hotels that charge Shillings. Do not change US Dollars into Shillings at Hotels – you most often get a very low exchange rate.
Be wise where you exchange your money since it will simply save you money, use a bank or Forex Bureau, even your ATM Card withdrawals will save you money.
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Uganda Money Information – Tips – Advice for Travelers – simply be wise – use common sense