Traveling to Tanzania can be an intimidating trip. One of the questions we frequently receive is do I have to exchange US Dollars (USD) for Tanzanian Shillings? No, you do not need to exchange USD for Tanzanian Shillings. USD is accepted almost everywhere in Tanzania. There is no need to exchange your US Dollars into Tanzanian Shillings while in Tanzania. However, by paying with US dollars you’ll actually pay more since most merchants will round up to the nearest dollar when doing a currency conversion. For example, if a bottle of water is 1700 Shillings and the current conversion is 1900 Shillings to one US dollar, they will charge you one full dollar for the bottle of water.
When paying for items with USD, please note that they must be dated at least 2009 or newer. Most merchants and even banks will not accept USD that is older than 2009. You can find out the date of your dollars by looking for the Series date on each bill.
Additionally, ATMs are not very plentiful in Tanzania so we suggest that you bring all the cash that you think you may need. Do not rely on being able to find an ATM while you are in Tanzania.
Large hotels and restaurants will take credit cards. However, many will impose a fee of up to 5% for using a credit card. Smaller merchants and street vendors do not accept credit cards.
In addition to the bills being newer than 2009. Make sure that they are not damaged. They cannot have tears or writing on them or they will not accept them. Even government or large companies like COVID tests and the banks will not accept damaged USD.
For tipping, larger bills like $100 work better, because the exchange rate is better for larger bills. So bring a few of those for tipping your mountain crew.
Finally, we recommend bringing at least $700-800 in USD if you are climbing Kilimanjaro. If you are also going on safari, then bring at least $200 more. The money can be safely stored at the hotel. We do not recommend bringing much on the mountain, just enough to buy beer, soda, and souvenirs at the park gate once you come off the mountain.