In South Africa you can use your Visa credit card to make cashless payments at 138,000 acceptance points and withdraw cash at 13,295 ATMs. The Mastercard, on the other hand, has slightly fewer cashless payment options with 121,652 acceptance points. Even with just over 7,000 ATMs, the Mastercard is less accepted than Visa. The ATMs are mostly in the larger cities.
Great differences in neighboring states: If you want to travel to Botswana, for example, you will quickly notice that the use of a Mastercard is only possible to a limited extent. With a Visa Card you will not have to accept any restrictions.
Otherwise, American Express and Diners Club are also welcome in numerous restaurants, hotels and larger shops. With the EC bank card, cash can be withdrawn at almost all ATMs, but the EC card is usually not accepted for cashless payments.
Important information on the use of credit cards in South Africa
Acceptance of credit cards ends with refueling.
Due to legal regulations, petrol and diesel cannot be paid with a credit card. We recommend that you always have enough cash with you.
If you go shopping or plan a restaurant visit where you want to pay with a credit card, it is advisable not to rely solely on advice on acceptance. It is not uncommon in South Africa that the card reader system fails due to repeated power failures. To prevent unpleasant situations, it is always advisable to carry cash with you.
Some holidaymakers report that there are occasional waiting times when using the Mastercard in restaurants, hotels and shops , since cashless payment with the Mastercard is only permitted with the approval of the responsible employee. Such occurrences are unknown with the Visa Card.
The daily limit for cash pickups at ATMs in South Africa is between 1,500 and 2,000 USD, which depends on the local bank.
In addition, it often happens that at the end of the month the ATMs run out of cash. Timely withdrawals keep you from having to be without cash. In some cases, depending on the bank, you can also collect cash with your credit card and your valid passport at the bank counter. Debit and prepaid cards, regardless of which provider, are generally excluded from this option.
Some banks issue credit cards with a lock for use in non-European countries. Before you start your trip, you should check with your house bank beforehand whether the bank or credit card is activated for South Africa.
In general, it should be noted that in principle any credit card is suitable for your trip to South Africa, although there may be slight restrictions with the Mastercard. If you want to be on the safe side, carrying a Master and Visa card is the solution.
What do the different credit cards offer?
Some banks, such as the CBD, offer credit cards with free international withdrawals at ATMs. In most cases, however, percentage fees are payable that relate to switching to the South African national currency. A foreign surcharge of 1% is common for cashless payments.
When deciding which credit card is the right one for your South Africa trip, you should inform yourself extensively about the respective fees and additional services at various banks. Numerous online banks in particular now offer
- No annual fees
- free cash withdrawals abroad
- Discounts for refueling, for example
Additional means of payment for the South Africa trip
In principle, you shouldn’t forego cash in South Africa. Nevertheless, travelers checks are a sensible and safe alternative to using credit cards. In the event of loss or theft, these will be replaced in full. You can get this from any bank branch.