Cape Town - Post Report Question and Answers

Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Yes, credit cards are widely accepted and pretty safe to use locally. Just keep in mind that if you pay by credit card at a restaurant, they usually bring the card reader to your table then you need to tell them how much to charge in total, which includes the tip. That takes away the relative anonymity of the tip amount. So, that's just an adjustment from U.S. practices where you write in the tip amount after your card has already been charged for the meal and the server does not see the tip amount until you've already left. ATMs are common. You just need to be extra cautious about using them because petty theft and crimes of opportunity are also common. Using an ATM signals to anyone watching that you have cash, so just keep that in mind. - Aug 2021

Cards are safe to use everywhere but I never use an ATM card, instead I use the cashier services at consulate. Most everyone gets a local bank account to eft payments. - Apr 2021

Skimming was a big deal, so now just about every shop and restaurant uses a wireless machine to swipe in front of you. You will want to use a chip-and-pin type card for security and to avoid confusion, because that is the only type of card most cashiers have seen. ATMs are generally safe if you are aware of your surroundings. - Feb 2018

Credit cards are fairly widely accepted -- most restaurants and stores take them. Visa and MasterCard are most widely accepted; many places explicitly will not accept AmEx. In stores and restaurants, you put your card into a card reader and enter a PIN -- it doesn't leave your sight. In fact, South Africans are weirded out by US credit cards that don't require a PIN to use, as they see them as unsafe.

ATMs -- generally okay to use if inside a store or bank, but recommend against using outdoor ATMs -- credit card skimmers are occasionally used here, and some gangs in the past have actually blown up outdoor ATMs with explosives. When using any ATM, be aware of your surroundings. - Oct 2017

You can use both. Chances are you'll have your credit card number stolen while you are here at least once but restaurants are adapting by bringing the card machine to the table and swiping the card in front of you. - May 2014

ATMs (and the scams that accompany them) are common here and I avoid using them, unless I am at the mall or other well-trafficked public area. When I have run out of cash, I have had no issues with ATMs in this situation. I normally use credit or debit cards only at the major retailers. Like other types of crimes, use common sense--don't go to a dark ATM in a low-trafficked area late at night. - Aug 2013

Local banks can be tedious and inefficient, but safe to use. ATMS are everywhere, credit cards accepted in all large venues. - Oct 2007

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