Before you embark on your trip to Africa, you may be wondering what payment methods you should use when purchasing food, souvenirs and other items.
While every country will have slight differences, there are certain things you should be aware of:
Payment methods range from traditional cash payments, to credit or debit card purchases and include an option not as common outside Africa: mobile money.
If you’re shopping at a reputable chain boutique or attraction and credit cards are accepted, it is most likely safe to use.
However, at smaller merchants you may not be able to pay with plastic, and even if you are, it may not be advisable, since credit card fraud is unfortunately all-to-common in parts of Africa.
In lieu of paying with credit, it’s wise to bring a fair amount of cash when you know you will be making purchases. Many of the mom-and-pop type shops or street-food vendors are usually cash only as well.
Debit cards come with the same dangers as credit cards, and if you’re going to an ATM, there isn’t always money in them (another headache altogether).
If you’re comfortable with smartphone technology, you can try out mobile money. For example, in Kenya, major mobile service providers offer virtual wallets that allow subscribers to load money onto individual accounts linked to their SIM cards.
Another option is to have multiple pre-paid credit cards with a fixed amount of money on them. Even if they’re stolen or compromised, you won’t be out much money.