Currency in Zambia
As of May 06, 2014 foreign currencies began to be accepted in Zambia after two years of the government not allowing payment in foreign currencies. Visitors can pay for their visas in U.S. dollars, (NOTE: U.S. dollar notes should be issued after the year 2003), upon entry into Zambia.
Lodges are usually sold on a full board basis, so cash is required for shopping, hotel extras, optional excursions, laundry and drinks. Most hotels and lodges will, however, accept credit cards for settlement of bills.
The unit of currency is the Kwacha (ZMK). The Kwacha has note denominations of 50, 100, 500, 1000, 5000, 10 000, 20 000 and 50 000.
Major currencies (like the US Dollar, the English Pound, and the Euro) may be exchanged in large towns.
Foreign Exchange Bureau offers faster service than banks and although the exchange rates are only nominally different, the bureau usually offer a better rate on travelers’ checks. Banks around the country have ATM machines that allow you to withdraw cash on both VISA and MasterCard accounts. The ATM’s in Zambia give out US dollars and these are generally accepted everywhere. Credit cards are accepted only at major lodges, hotels, and travel operators.
It is advisable to exchange US Dollars into Kwacha upon arrival for tips and small purchases where credit cards and USD are not normally used.
High traveler’s checks commission charges are common, and bureaus that charge no commission will often give a rate substantially below the cash rate for checks. Charges vary widely, from 1% to 3% per transaction, to flat fees of up to US$15.