Harare - 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?

Some grocery stores accepted international credit cards. At one point, the Embassy had the only working ATM in the city. Definitely a cash-based economy, in my opinion, the economy is one for the history books. Right now, USD is accepted at most places. - May 2021

International cards are rarely accepted. ATMs rarely have cash and typically don't accept international cards anyway. When there is cash, expect a long line. The money situation here is... bonkers. Hopefully it will be fixed within a year or so. The country used to be dollarized, but now there is an official local currency and USD transactions are illegal, but the reality is that most places still happily accept USD and will give you a fair exchange rate. The official exchange rate is NOT fair, and you will lose value when you exchange for local currency (using either mobile money, a bank card, or cash in the rare instances when you can find it). This explains why the USG gives a high COLA at the moment. - Feb 2020

International credit cards usually work. Literally no ATMs have any cash in them. If you can find a way to get cash, that is the best method of payment for discounts. - Feb 2019

Not a single ATM in this country can distribute cash. If you don't have a reliable access to USD, you'll have a hard time. Credit cards can be used widely. - Jan 2019

Yes, cards are safe to use. I've never seen an ATM. If there is one, there is no cash in it, as the country has a cash shortage. - Apr 2018

It is a plastic economy owing to the shortage of currency in the local economy. Bring a card that does not incur foreign transaction fees. - Sep 2017

At the moment plastic is the only option. Almost no cash left in the country. ATMs are still guarded but no cash available. - Jul 2017

The economy is largely plastic with actual cash in short supply.You can use your credit card, no problem. Don't however, expect to use an ATM without standing in a three hour line and getting only $20 when you get your turn.If you need cash, bring it with you or set up a way to access it ahead of time. - Jul 2017

ATMs work fine, cards increasingly accepted. - Apr 2016

I use my U.S. Visa cards in ATMs here on occasion. Barclays, CBZ, and Stanbic take them. However, the machines are old, and sometimes eat the cards I've been told, although it's never happened to me. I also have a local Barclays Bank account and use a debit card from them. US$5 a month fee if you set it up through the U.S. embassy FMO. Quite first world: you get a courtesy text message on your cell phone within a few minutes of using it. Most restaurants and stores take such cards. - Dec 2013

Some shops take credit cards, but for the most part this is a cash economy. ATM cards work in some banks, depending if your card is a VISA or MasterCard. A distinct lack of change makes for a lighter wallet. Vendors will sometimes give change in SA Rand, and most of the time will print you a credit note or ask if you want your change in sweets. - Jul 2013

Forget about it. No ATMs or credit cards. - Jun 2009

Wouldn't try to use them. The exchange rate is fixed by the government so a pizza would cost you hundreds of U.S. dollars if you tried to get funds from an ATM. - Dec 2008


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