So, you’ve booked your trip, made sure that your passport isvalid but, before you can organise any visas, you have to arrange your foreigncurrency.
There are various ways of obtaining foreign currency -through the banks, from a Bureaux de Change and from specific companies thatoffer a foreign currency service – usually delivered to your door! You canorganise cash, travellers cheques and cash passports as well as allocate anamount on your existing credit card.
Theonly way you can organise foreign currency is to have a valid ID, a validpassport, proof of travel, proof of residence and paying monies to aparticipating bank branch or Bureaux de Change.
Youcan only apply for Forex (foreign exchange) from 60 days prior to departure date(up to 24 hours before departure). Should you be taking large amounts of cashthen 48 hours are required to get the correct currency. Not all bank brancheshave a foreign exchange desk, so you may have to travel to another branch anddeal with personnel who do not know you.
Bankscan book travellers cheques in whichever currency and denominations that yourequire. Should you be travelling to many different countries, you will have toorder amounts in various currencies, or you can choose to take a globallyaccepted currency like US Dollars, Euros or British Pounds. However, this willincur the initial cost of issue and conversion from SA Rand and then, each timeyou cash them in, there will be a further transaction fee, and conversion costsfrom the currency they are issued in into the currency of the country you arevisiting. So quite a bit of your hard-earned spending money will go on bankcharges!! Once the TCs are printed you will need to return to the bank and signeach cheque on receipt and then counter sign when cashing them in. This iscumbersome and very difficult for persons with disabilities as your signaturehas to match perfectly otherwise the receiver could think that you had stolenthem!
Youcan apply for an amount to be placed onto your existing credit card, as long asit does not exceed your limit. You can then use your credit card as normal and,as each transaction gets processed, the exchange rate from the country of thepurchase (on the date of transaction) gets converted into SA Rands, anddeducted from your credit card.
Youcan organise cash from either the foreign desk at your bank or any Bureau deChange (found at most international airports and many of the larger shoppingprecincts). Most international hotels will have a small exchange desk but theirfees are much higher than the banks and Bureau de Changes. Please do NOTexchange any currency with an unauthorised person, you will be ripped off!!
Makesure that you have some small denominations of cash for the country that youare visiting first, or transiting through, so that you can pay for taxis, tips,beverages etc. Also check with your bank or Bureau de Change as to the exactamount allowed for each country visited, as these change periodically.
Prepaid CurrencyCards (Cash Cards)
Thisoption is my personal favourite, as you get a card that is usable at millionsof ATMs, shops, hotels and restaurants worldwide. It is a secure and convenient new way to manage your budget when travelling overseas as it is pre-loaded withyour budgeted funds. It is not connected to your bank accounts and has 24/7 global assistance. As it works like a credit card it must be looked aftercarefully and signed on the back as soon as you receive it. To check yourtransactions regularly most suppliers have a feature on their websites. When on-line make sure that you are on a secure browser (the website address willstart with https://). Always protect your PIN number and NEVER give it toanyone! Always keep your card in sight and make sure that it isn’t being“skimmed”.
Ifyou lose or have your card stolen, report it to Card Services immediately. Askfor their international emergency number and write it down in a separate placeto your card.
TheTravelex Cash Passport is available in US Dollars, British Sterling, Euros andAustralian Dollars and comes in Mastercard or Visa options making it is easy touse overseas. The MasterCard Cash Passport is accepted wherever you see the MasterCard, Maestro or Cirrus Acceptance Marks and Visa’s Cash Passport isaccepted where you see the Visa or Plus logo.
TheTravelex Cash Passport is available at numerous banks and Bureaux de Changes,including ABSA, Bidvest, FNB, American Express Retail Foreign Exchange (Tourvest) and Travelex Retail Foreign Exchange (FX Africa). You will require avalid ID, valid passport, proof of travel and proof of residence. Make yourapplication and payment to a participating bank or Bureaux de Change, load upyour Cash Passport and go.
Travelex Cash Passport offer a door-to-door service so that you can organise your CashPassport in the comfort of your office or home, a great help for persons withdisabilities. You must be able to provide proof of payment into their accountbefore you will get your card, so make sure that you have access to internetbanking or have the proof of payment with you.
Thereare a number of countries subject to US economic sanctions where the use of theCash Passport is not allowed. If you attempt to withdraw cash from an ATM, oruse your Cardata merchant, in those countries your request will be declinedand the reason given as 'Declined, prohibited country'. The countries currentlyaffected by sanctions are: Myanmar (Burma), Cuba, Iran and Sudan.
Before you go
Signthe back of your Cash Passport as soon as you receive it, and then memoriseyour PIN. Do NOT write your PIN on the back of your card!!!
If you have a MasterCard Cash Passport, you can register your card on the ‘MyAccount’ page at Travelex. Click “for you” - then click “cash passport” - click on “register for “my account”today”. If you do this you will be able to phone Card Services if you forget your PIN number but you cannot change your PIN.The same goes for the Visa Cash Passport, but you can change your PIN to something more memorable.
LocalExchange Control Regulations issued in terms of the Currency and Exchanges Act9 of 1933 and the provisions of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act 38 of2001 apply.
Oneof the great benefits of a Cash Passport is that, if you lose your Card or itis stolen, your funds can be replaced quickly. A dedicated Card Services teamis on hand 24/7 to help. If your Cash Passport goes missing, call Card Servicesstraightaway and they’ll cancel it, giving complete protection of your funds.The Card Services team can then make arrangements to minimise the impact onyour trip, including emergency cash replacement up to the available balance ofyour Card.
Ifyou notice any transactions on your Cash Passport that are incorrect, or thatyou don’t recognise, call the 24 hour Card Services helpline immediately orwithin 60 days of the transaction date. If you believe your PIN or any othersecurity information may have been compromised, please call Card Services.
Reloading your Cash Passport
All unused foreign exchange must be converted into SA Rand within 30 days of returning to South Africa. It is recommended that you wait until 10 days after your last transaction before converting the currency on your Cash Passport back to Rand, to ensure that all your transactions have been processed.
You can withdraw the balance remaining on your Card at an ATM or take your cardback to the branch where you bought it and they will refund the balance.
YourCash Passport is valid for at least three years (see the expiry date on yourCard) and reloadable as many times as you want – within the limits andrestrictions of your Card. Just take the Cash Passport, and required documentationto the branch where you first purchased it, and they will reload the Card foryou.
Pleasenote that the VAT Refund Card is only valid for 12 months from the date ofissue, regardless of the expiry date showing on the Card. It is NOT reloadable andshould be cut in half once the available funds have been used.
Shouldyou have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me. In the meantime…Happy Travels