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Using USD in Tanzania and Kenya

Travel Forums Africa and The Middle East Using USD in Tanzania and Kenya

1. Posted by Flutterbug (Budding Member 10 posts) 6y

Hi,

Does anyone know if USD are accepted for meals travel and general spending in Tanzania and Kenya please? Or does every note have to be exchanged first?

Is there a decent exchange rate if I handed over, for example, 100 USD made up of smaller demoniations ($20's $10s $5s?)

Any advice would be appreciated. I was going to take all Travellers cheques but read on an earlier post that they're not worth it for problems with acceptance or exchange rate.

I'm taking a credit card, bank card and a bit of cash in USD. Should I take TZS and KSH also? Am i right in thinking TZS are almost non existent? :S

Apologies for so many questions! x

2. Posted by aidni (Respected Member 33 posts) 6y

Hi!
You can easily exchange US dollars in Kenya and Tanzania. These are civilized countries.
Don't give people bakshish in american dollars (it's too much and you'll be seen as an rich and extravagant person), you can give small tips in local currency.
If you take a bank card (to use in ATM) the best is Visa, as in Kenya and Tanzania there are many ATM's and it's really helpfull when you travel. I can recomend you Bercleys Bank and Standard Chartered Bank, but there are much more than that.
Kenya Shilings as well as Tanzania Shilings are official currencies of the countries, perfectly existing and working the same way as all other currencies of the world, you can pay for everything with them, there is no need to take a big amount of dollars to pay for small things. You can pay for everything in local currency. The US dollars are only needed when you pay for the visa at the border, as only US dollars are accepted by the immigration officials.
Best of luck for your journey in this beautiful part of the world :)

3. Posted by zaksame (Respected Member 571 posts) 6y

If you are bringing USD with you make sure they are new, clean notes as I've lots of problems in the past with services not accepting pre-2002 bills.
You will have to change them to Kenyan shillings anyway as it's just much easier to deal that way - and there are Forex bureaus almost everywhere in central Nairobi. Get lots of small denominations for using to tip in hotels, parks, restaurants and anywhere you've received good service (Which will be pretty much everywhere).

Enjoy your trip.

4. Posted by flyingbob (Inactive 842 posts) 6y


  1. 3 is spot on. They don't like dirty, torn notes or any with writing on.


You'll have a few probs using them in small restaurants - and when you do find establishments that'll except them, don't expect to be jumping with joy over the E.R. they offer.
I use $US when I go to Southern Africa, but find it generally better to dabble for an hour or so around the banks for the best E.R., rather than using them for direct purchases.

5. Posted by Flutterbug (Budding Member 10 posts) 6y

Thankyou everyone for this advice. I think the safest thing is to order some Tanzania Shillings and then I can't go wrong.. I'll have a third in USD and the rest in local currency. I just hope the runours Ive heard of the Tanzanian shilling been fazed out isnt true!

Phew... why do I love Africa?

Thanks again x

[ Edit: Edited on 07-Jun-2010, at 14:21 by Flutterbug ]

6. Posted by flyingbob (Inactive 842 posts) 6y

The reason you love Africa? Cos it's an awesomely wonderful continent.
I've done quite a bit of it and it never ceases to amaze me how the locals smile so much, yet have so little.
Quite interesting, that if you read the RTW posts in TP, hardly anyone ever mentions Africa on their itinery. It's always the same old.... Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Oz. etc.
We know what they're missing - huh?