Banking in South Africa

South Africa has many international banks and local banks which expats can open accounts with them offering many options and rates to manage their finances.

There are four main major banks in the country as well as local private banks which offer better services and professional advice to citizens and foreigners. These are regularly open Monday – Friday 8am-3.30pm and Saturdays till 11am. The banks at the airports change their hours of opening for all the international flights. All the banks provide different services such as mobile and online banking

Major Banks include: First National Bank, Ned Bank, ABSA and Standard Bank

Private Banks: RMB (Rand Merchant Bank) and Investec

If you need to change money, this can be done at Bureaux de change with branches available in many cities, in addition to this visa and MasterCard’s are widely accepted in all the ATM’s around the cities and towns.

South African Currency

The official currency in South Africa is the South African Rand (ZAR or R) which is divided into 100 cents.

Coins: 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2, R5

Notes: R10, R20, R50, R100, R200

The exchange rate is quite reasonable for international currencies and banking is refined in the country

Opening a bank account in South Africa

Expats moving to South Africa will find it possible to open a bank account before relocating as this tends to be quicker than opening one when in the country due to not having a South African credit record. Most banks have international branches such as HSBC, Barclays and Natwest and you can open an account for international use with them.

If you decide to open an account when you are in South Africa you will need to provide some documents for the process to be completed such as Passport and proof of address.

Money which is transferred to a South African bank can be repatriates, so expats are advised to keep a record of transactions made.

Majority of the expats open an account for living expenses in the country and then keep a separate account open at home for their bills and mortgages.


The main banks in South Africa all have their own ATM along with smaller bank ATM’s in the small towns. As with your home country, you are able to use any ATM but there may be different fees for withdrawals from other banks.

The ATM’s also have a facility for customer to be able to drop a cheque or cash, this is called a drop box. As well as this bill payments can be made using an ATM too.