Monday, March 21

Changing Money

In Zambia, the most reliable place to change money is (usually) a bank, a bureau de change, or a large hotel. These places will probably not rip you off; they'll provide a receipt; and they'll have cash on-hand. Also, they'll be able to change both cash and traveler's cheques. (I have had banks refuse to exchange TC's for me, because I left the receipt -- the one you're supposed to keep separate from the cheques -- in the hotel.) Of course, banks, hotels, and bureaus will probably give you the poorest exchange rate.

If you want to trade on the street, there are plenty of maney-changers trading on the black market. However, a few tips:

  1. Never change money with a group. They will perform a sleight-of-hand trick.
  2. If there is a group, separate them. Say: "I'll trade, but only with one guy."
  3. Ask at independent hotels where the best place to change money is. Often, it's in the office.
  4. Ask other travelers where they exchanged money.
  5. If you're changing money with a stranger for the first time, it's better to change a small amount. Subsequent exchanges can result in larger denominations.
  6. Remember: 1 "pin" = "1000 kwacha."

Also: if it doesn't feel right, walk away.