Quick Info

Banking

You will soon become an expert at international banking transactions…

Contact Your Bank

Before you leave the US contact your bank and/or credit card company to let them know that you will be studying abroad – where and for how long.

  • If your bank is not aware that you will be using your card(s) overseas, they may cancel your card(s) due to suspicious activity outside your normal spending patterns.
  • Also confirm with your bank that you will be able to use your card(s) overseas and what their fees are.
  • Ask your bank for a list of overseas outlets where your card is accepted.

Carrying Cash

  • It's a good idea to arrive with at least the equivalent of $200 in your wallet exchanged into ZAR– you can do this at your local bank if you give them notice or at the airport for a hefty charge.
  • Your American ATM card should work at most banks overseas including your arrival airport, however you can only draw from a primary (usually checking) account.  
  • Local banks will also exchange currency but note their operating hours and fees.

Cash Machines (ATMs)

If your ATM card is linked to the Plus or Cirrus systems, your card will work in hundreds of cash machines throughout the country. The advantage to using your American ATM card is that you will be assessed the wholesale exchange rate that applies to large foreign currency transactions. That said, have other sources of money in case your ATM card does not work.

Credit Cards

You can use most credit cards in South Africa but they must be in your name, as it appears on your passport. Visa and MasterCard are more widely accepted than American. Credit card cash advances are considered loans, so interest is charged from the day the advance is made. Before you depart, check with your card company for more information on what services you’ll have where, what fees are involved and what to do if you lose your card.

South African Bank Accounts

You will have the ability to open a bank account in South Africa. Many of the major South African banks, like Standard Bank, offer student accounts, and all that is needed to set up an account is around 100 Rand and your passport.

In an Emergency

When the program is in session, our Resident Director in South Africa can make emergency loans to students. Students must sign a promissory note and repay the loan as soon as they receive money from home. If you find yourself in dire financial straits while traveling, the State Department can help your family transfer money to you (provided you are a U.S. citizen).