Uganda Money Information and Tips for Tourists – Travelers
FAQ’s-The Frequently asked Questions about Money Visitors, and Tourists ask.
Helpful Uganda Money Information – Tips – Advice for Travelers – The Frequently asked Questions about Money that Visitors ask. Uganda, for the most part, is a cash-based society. Although the Uganda Shilling is the official currency, the Currency of choice, Commerce and Tourism in the US Dollar.
Here and there, you can use your credit card. Visa cards are most readily accepted. Master Card, and American Express, are harder to use. Usually, it means a 5 to 6 or more% surcharge for the privilege of using your card. (due to fees 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. Traveler Cheques are often harder to cash and are cumbersome, requiring extra fees in banks. Most Forex Bureaus will not take traveler cheques from you.
Below are some Uganda Money Frequently Asked Questions – Information – Tips – Advice for Travelers and Tourists that you will find helpful.
The information is current and updated should changes occur.
FAQ’s-The Frequently asked Questions about Money that Visitors ask.
Helpful Uganda Money Information – Tips – Advice for Visitors & Safari-Goers
What is the currency of Choice for Visitors?
The Ugandan Shilling is the official currency in Uganda. However, like many other African Nations, Uganda uses the US Dollar as the currency of trade, commerce, and tourism. As a Tourist, you will need both the US Dollar and some locally acquired Ugandan Shillings.
Many prices, especially those for Tourists, will be in US Dollars, Euros and UK Pound, are ok for changing Money into Ugandan currency.
You must obtain dollar bills newer than 2008 and no tears or blemishes. This helps with your exchange rate and getting them accepted. (2003 is due to forgeries in times past, including by an American in Uganda).
It is best to 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 or bars to buy souvenirs since you will lose money because of the low exchange rate that you will receive.
Tipping should not be in US Dollars but in Ugandan Shillings. Ugandan Shillings can be immediately used by the person that you are tipping. Tipping makes an important contribution to the life of a Ugandan,
Are there Forex Bureaus for the exchange of Money?
The ones at the Grand Imperial Hotel give you the best rates in town. Late at night, you can also go into Kampala Casino, and they will provide you with a reasonable price since they think 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 (personal experience). They also give you the most challenging 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. Y
Do not change your money at your hotel front desk. You get the lowest exchange rate around. Do not use money changers that might approach you, and you will lose again. They can be like a magician doing card tricks. Except this is doing card tricks with your money.
If you are on foot, security – do not use a Forex Bureau at night. If you are on Safari with us, your Driver-Guide will be with you as you exchange Money.
We suggest that you carry a small amount of cash, and you need enough to pay for your Visa. We recommend that you have no more than $500 on you. You can always withdraw from your account in local currency using an ATM.
Money draws unnecessary attention that you do not want. Your driver will have mobile Money on his phone, and Money can be sent to that number from anywhere in the world.
ATMs are located in cities and towns, and you can easily withdraw Ugandan Shillings at your convenience.
All this avoids having a bunch of cash on you that you do not need. Meals, Hotels, and activities are all included in your Safari.
The only thing that you need is Drinks, Souvenirs, and Tip money. There is no need for canny Cash,
It is safer not to carry a lot of cash on you. You can use an ATM, but there are both local and your HOme Bank charges.
Can I use the 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 traveler cheques there. However, contrary to suggestions from American Express Traveller Cheques, you will need proof of buy and a passport to prove ownership for cheques you want to be cashed. You will also receive a lower rate.
Use an International Bank for the best service. Most Visitors to Uganda will not have to use a Bank except their ATMs.
Going inside a bank can be overwhelming since, often, the lines will be long and slow-moving. Using a branch of a bank rather than the main branch can be beneficial.
For many visiting a bank can be a cultural experience that becomes part of your safari story. Bank Employees tend to be bureaucratic, and western-style Banking customer service is non-existent. Some International Banks have upped the level of customer service.
Do they have ATMs in Uganda that a visitor can use?
Getting the best rate from your country’s currency converted into Shillings is easy if you have a visa debit card. 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 can generally be withdrawn up to the daily limit your bank allows at home, which you can also reset in many cases.
Using a Visa ATM card, not having a Visa ATM will cause you some grief at most Bank ATMs in Uganda. Master Card is not the Debit or Credit Card preferred here.
Safety and Security Issues with ATMs are addressed in the above link. Always attempt to use an ATM that gives you a bit of privacy and shields your PIN input.
Please do not allow any so-called good Samaritan to assist you; they are often local con artists. They memorize your PIN number, and when they take the card out, they give you another card while stealing yours, which they will use immediately at another ATM. They will also purchase things with your card online or locally.
Notify your bank that you will be using your Card in Uganda. You will avoid your card being blocked.
Even the UK government suggests not using credit cards in Uganda due to the possibility of someone stealing your card information. According to the UK government website, such has happened even in high-end hotels.
Cases of employees stealing your credit card information have happened here and in other African Countries. If you have no other choice, the first choice of Credit card here is Visa, and the second is Master Card.
Companies such as Kabiza Wilderness Safaris that use the PesaPal system make it even easier to use credit cards. The charge is less than using Bank Merchant Services available in Uganda. You can use Visa, Master Card, and American Express.
It might come as a surprise to you. Still, if, for example, a hotel rate is 100 USD per night, you will have a 5% minimum service charge added to your bill, making it 105 USD. This is common here. Even if there is nothing to suggest a service charge, it has been added to the price.
\keep your Credit Cards safe and secure and out of sight of anyone but you. The exception will be if you are using it. If an employee is handling your card, stay there and observe the process.
Can I use Travellers Cheques in Uganda?
Use American Express ones only. All the others, you will have a more challenging time getting Money or no money at all.
You will pay a fee for exchanging them for Cash. Plus, despite suggestions from American Express not to reveal such information, you will need proof of purchase and a passport to prove ownership of the cheques you want to be cashed. You will also receive a lesser exchange rate than if you use 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 to bring Traveller Cheques. Use an ATM card instead.
TravelerCheques – at least in Uganda, are not the best way to bring Money, and it takes too much time and effort to cash them. Plus, you receive a lower exchange rate.
How secure is my Money while visiting Uganda?
Wear a money belt around your waist to hide Cash. Use a safe in the Hotel to put your airline ticket and passport. Make copies of passport, airline tickets, and anything else important document. Please put all those items in a Sealed Envelope and see them put into the Hotel safe.
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 downtown Kampala.
Never flash any money in public, such as in restaurants or public places, since it will attract unwanted attention and be your loss.
Never use large amounts of money in a restaurant, bar, or market – it makes you a potential target that you certainly do not want to be.
Do not use an ATM in a bar – where people are watching you, and you become a target after withdrawing Money. That is flashing cash with the wrong crowd, and it would make you a target for cons, thieves, and others.
Is it safe to use Money Changers?
Avoid them. At border crossings, you will be haunted by them, and many con artists can make you think you are getting one amount, while in reality, you will get a lot less.
Even if you count along, their hands are quicker than your eyes. One can almost guarantee 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 entry into Uganda and rarely in Kigali for their safari in Uganda. Be aware that money changers are more common there. Unlicensed money changing is illegal, and a tourist could get arrested along with the money changer. No matter how good the exchange rate offered might sound. Turn it down.
Money Changers at the Border, such as the Rwandan – Ugandan Border Crossings for those who fly into Rwanda and Trek Gorillas in Uganda.
How do I buy local items in Uganda?
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, and Uber Taxis will offer the most value for your money.
For-hire vehicles are taxis that are private individuals that provide a taxi service at an agreed-upon rate. Have a Ugandan negotiate for you. You might also see metered taxis, often in the familiar US color.
Aggressive Bargaining is not culturally accepted.
Are Money Transfers safe in Uganda?
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, and you can buy them at a Forex Bureau if you need US dollars.
You can now use Western Union and send money directly to someone using an MTN Phone in Uganda. They go and receive the payment 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 meager.
Most Ugandans have a Mobile Phone Money account, and they can receive Money on their phone – Western Union and WorldRemit work on MTN Mobile Money, a phone-based program.
What is the US Dollar Exchange Rate in Uganda?
The present exchange rate in Uganda for the US Dollar means bargains for Tourists. Presently the exchange rate hovers around 3,600 UGX to the US Dollar.
This can mean some real bargains for tourists and visitors to Uganda if you follow specific rules: Stay in Hotels that charge Shillings. Do not change US Dollars into Shillings at Hotels – you most often get a meager exchange rate.
Be wise where you exchange your money since it will directly save you money, use a bank or Forex Bureau. Even your ATM Card withdrawals will save you money.
Even when you tip, always use Ugandan Shillings. The person receiving the gratuity will use the Money immediately if in Shillings.
The current Exchange rate hovers at above 3,500 Shillings plus one US Dollar. The Ugandan Shilling has become very stable during the last few years and has not dropped in value.
Making your travel arrangement is every day in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, etc. Some African Travelers think that they can do the same, putting together a Safari on their own.
Often, that African Traveler is looking National Lampoon-like holiday. From Disaster to Disaster. From obtaining Gorilla Permits to booking lodges close to the activities. From Road Conditions and local driving habits.
There are too many unknown factors to the uninitiated. Often, such a person is taken advantage of, pays too much, or does not receive what they paid for.
The profit a Ugandan Tour Operator adds to a safari is minimal compared to the Money potentially lost attempting a do-it-yourself Safari.
Use a Tour Operator and save Money
Credit Cards or Wire-Bank Bank Transfers make Safari Payments either.
You usually have two payments. There is the Safari Down Payment, which covers the lodge and permit amount. The last payment 30-Days follows the down payment before the starting date of your Safari.
Our Merchant Service Provider charges 3.5%, lower than the regular service charge for Credit Cards in East Africa.
The lowest cost way, in most cases, is a Bank to Bank Transfer. We use ABSA, formerly Barclay Africa, since it is an international bank that makes money transfers more comfortable.
The Bank of Uganda checks large money transfers for money laundering, which takes one day. Standard transfers take about five business days, and no payment has ever been made.
Tipping and Gratuities in Uganda:
Uganda, like many African countries, has a non-tipping culture. Tipping is a cultural norm that was birthed in the USA after the emancipation of enslaved people. Today tipping and gratuities have long gone mainstream, and it is a societal norm to tip, but not so in Uganda. However, tipping or leaving a gratuity is primarily practiced in the Tourism sector.
In Tourism, many expect and see Tips as an obligatory requirement. In some cases, the amounts predicted by those in gorilla tracking are pretty high, and we do not concur with such expectations. Unlike many safari tour operators who give their clients a tipping table, we do not.
We feel that tipping is an acknowledgment of excellent service rendered. That is not obligatory, but a tip is given because of excellent customer service. We are mindful that tips are an empowerment investment into the life of a Ugandan and that we encourage. We also like to point out that are on a Safari, you are like an ambassador of your country, and tipping does favorably enhance the image of your country.
We suggest that you use the input of your driver-guide, and you will reward excellent service where you receive it.
Does my Money stretch further in Uganda?
Going on a Safari is an investment in yourself, and gorilla Trekking is the most expensive Tourism Activity in Africa. Let us show you how to stretch your dollar further in Uganda.
Uganda is the most bio-diverse country in Africa, with something for everyone. Gorilla Trekking is the top attraction in Uganda. Visitors wanting to track Gorillas have increased dramatically since Rwanda increased its Gorilla Permit Price to 1500 USD.
Uganda’s permit price is 600 USD. That is a 900 USD Saving for you, and that is just the beginning. We are one of the leading Gorilla Habituation Safaris Tour Operators, and we know all the ins and outs of Gorilla Trekking. Let us know if it is on your Bucket List, and we will make it a reality.
Your Money stretches further in Uganda.
Uganda Money Information – Tips – Advice for Travelers – be wise – use common sense