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-   -   Withdrawing money in Africa (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/travellers-questions-dont-fit-anywhere/withdrawing-money-in-africa-39926)

Birdy 6 Jan 2009 13:53

Withdrawing money in Africa
More jitters. I've just been looking at the Lonely Planet site, and it tells me that:

Congo B,

are all bereft of ATMs. How do people get money out for travel? Do you have to pop into banks, or carry fort Knox with you? I don't want to make myself a target by having to carry my complete trips' finance with me really.

I suppose the countries I listed that are in the CFA make it a bit easier, but I am still a little confused.



DougieB 6 Jan 2009 16:05


I am in Mali today, in Bamako. ATMs for visa are no problem (generally a better card for w africa), but there is one bank that does Mastercard (Banque l'Atlantique, next to the Grand Mosquee).

Can't remember what I did in Niger, a couple of years ago. But remember, you can always* go into the bank and get money instead of ATM.

A modest stash of euro will get you out of a hole.


* always doesn't literally means ALWAYS here :-)

Birdy 7 Jan 2009 20:44

Thanks for that Dougie.

As luck happens, the only credit card I could get (no credit history at all - not so much as an overdraft,) is a MasterCard. Both my debit cards are Visa though.

Nationwide refused to give me either their debit card or their credit card, so unfortunately I will be paying a 2% withdrawal charge on Barclays.

I really am retarded, and this is a bone question, but how do you withdraw money from an African bank with an English card? Can it be any bank? Because I guess there are not a lot of Barclays banks in the Congo.


Birdy 8 Jan 2009 20:42

Sorry for bumping, but someone must know how the cash system works over there.

I must apologise for my lack of savvy, I went from my mother's apron strings into the army, and they then sorted everything out for me. I don't understand the civvy world!


Linzi 8 Jan 2009 22:45

Try previous pages of the Sub-Sahara section, there's at least one about cash. Sorry, that's all I can add. Linzi.

Kipp 16 Jan 2009 09:24

For what its worth, when I was in Mauri a bit ago I found it very hard to find somewhere to get hold of cashish - the guide books say its no problem, but maybe i'm a bit of a muppet... Even finding an ATM from one of the bigger banks (the 'domestic' banks only take domestic cards) was difficult - I never actually found one in Nouadhibou. This led to a lot of cabbage soup being consumed - with any spare cash being used for fuel...

quastdog 17 Jan 2009 08:04

Are you referring to information in a Lonely Planet Guidebook? What year was it published?

Keep in mind, the information was probably drawn from research the prior year or two (and as the world has discovered, their researchers sometimes sit in bars and relate what they hear or regurgitate previously published research), so if your Guidebook says published in 2006 - the info is now 4 or more years old.

Also, the world has changed considerably in the past few years. ATM's are being added everywhere. I regularly find ATM's in places where the LP Guidebook of Africa says there aren't. (caveate: I'm in east Africa, can't speak about countries in west Africa specifically). For instance, "there aren't ATM's in Ethiopia". Although not common, it is not true. Just used a Dashen Bank ATM in Addis this a.m. with my Visa card (they say they take Mastercard too).

I also note the information on their website may not be current - it seems like its from their guidebooks, and not updated.

DougieB 17 Jan 2009 10:42


there are ATMs (hole in the wall), the same as the UK. Just walk up, stick in your card and PIN and withdraw money. Work out the currency rates before you withdraw, as (for example) CFAs in Mali will be something like 200,000. So you need to be aware of the amount you want first, rather than the card being swallowed as you hastily try and work out how much 200,000 CFAs is.

Also, a lot of machines will have a low withdrawal amount. I think Morocco is 2000 Dh per withdrawal. If you have problems just go into the bank and speak to someone. Speak to people coming the other way to find out where ATMs are, and what cards they take. You´ll only get them in the capitals or large towns.

Finally, tell your credit card company you are travelling, and where. Otherwise they´ll block your card once you start using it.

noel di pietro 21 Jan 2009 21:13

Always carry some cash for emergency and peace of mind. In case there are no ATM's you can get cash at the bank counters with your credit card. It is a bureaucratic messy procedure but its quit common. We did it several times all over Africa. We have always managed to get money from either ATM, Bank counter (credit card) or change cash.

And its really advisable to carry both Master card and Visa !! Also cash on the West coast should be Euros and the East coast Dollars!


cruiser guy 19 Oct 2012 08:23

Any further updates on this topic?

I'm living in Sierra Leone, been here for nearly two years having arrived in January 2011 and I can tell you there are NO ATM's in this country ANYWHERE that take a foreign card. It MAY be possible to use a credit card to get cash here but I have not tried (our funds are transferred direct to our Sierra Leone account so we have no worries there).

My concern is we are planning to drive from Sierra Leone to Germany sometime next year. Knowing there are ATM's that accept foreign cards in the countries along the way would be a great help.

I can always fall back on Western Union/Moneygram or withdrawing on the Visa card and the like but I'd rather not.


Titbird 19 Oct 2012 16:13

Just use an atm locator like this one for visa http://www.visa.com/atmlocator/index...28page:home%29
and then use one for mastercard, if the country is not mentioned in the atm locator, there is a high probability you card won't work.
My experience for west africa is: get a visa card, mastercard is not accepted in many west african countries.
All the capitals I was in have multiple ATM's by now.

cruiser guy 19 Oct 2012 17:59

I ran though that.

Sierra Leone, nothing, but I already knew that
Guinea, nothing
Mali, nothing!?!?
Senegal has ATM's
Mauritania, nothing
Morocco I didn't check but I'd be a little surprised if there were not any ATM's with all the visitors they get from Europe.

Anyone on the ground or through recently that can counter these findings? When traveling in Central America we stopped at the ATM every few days. Easy to find and usually no problems.

Titbird 19 Oct 2012 18:24

Mali has ATM's in the mayor cities, Senegal aswell but Mauritania is more difficult, Nouadhibou none and Noackchott one (that I found).
Morocco plenty!

cruiser guy 20 Oct 2012 15:57

Still on the topic of getting funds in West Africa.

Has anyone used a Western Union pre-paid card loaded with say $4000 - $5000? Do the Western Union offices that are in many more locations than ATM's honor these cards AND give you the funds you have stored on them if requested? I've sent this question to the Western Union folks but if anyone has done this or tried I'd like to hear how it went.

I'd like to have a way of getting money on the way. Driving with thousands of dollars in cash on board just seems risky to me.

p4jk 20 Oct 2012 17:56

I found few ATM's in Nouadhibou 3 years ago but they took only VISA which didnt help me.

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