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ATMs and (the other kind of) Visas in Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana


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Joined: January 30th, 2006

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  • Added on: May 16th, 2006
I'm in the process of tying up last ends (I hope!) for a RTW trip starting this fall. I'm pretty sure my ATM card (HSBC Mastercard) works in all the countries I'm going to . . . except Africa. I've been told that only VISA works for Africa (although I just got back from Cairo where everyone took everything, including American Express!)

Do ATMs only take VISA cards in Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana?

Also, all of my research says that I need to get advance (the other kind of) visas for these countries (for US citizens)... but my friend just got back from Kenya and said she could have just bought a visa at the airport. Accurate? I'd love to not have to worry about getting more visas in the states than I have to.


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  • Added on: May 16th, 2006
I flew into Nairobi and I bought my visa right there at the airport. 20USD for a transit visa. I didn't get my visa for Tanzania in advance, either. That one was 50USD at the border. Very easy to do... no need to do it in advance.
"Keep not standing fixed and rooted. Briskly venture, briskly roam." -Goethe


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Sells Travel by the Gram
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  • Added on: May 16th, 2006
if your card has a visa logo it should work anywhere in the world, as far as i know...or are you talking about a transit visa?
Josh has taken his much needed vacation and will be going on another Christmas to New Years 2011/2012. However, before he does read about his past trips http://blogs.bootsnall.com/eppyboy


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Began Gap Year Trip Six Years Ago
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  • Added on: May 16th, 2006
some people were having trouble with their mastercards on the rare occasion that we came across an ATM in tanzania. i had no problems with my visa card though.

also, when you fly into nairobi, you can get your visa upon arrival. it was 20USD for a transit visa but 50USD for a single-entry (which allows you to leave and enter kenya one more time). although the transit visa may save you $10, it makes the mess at the border a little crazier when you're trying to get back into kenya from tanzania via bus.. a bus that actually left one person behind when we crossed.

you can always check the websites of the appropriate embassies if you want the most up-to-date info, as what i know was current as of january.
Freedom lies in being bold.

blog: http://sybaritestory.wordpress.com/


Thorn Tree Refugee
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Joined: May 19th, 2006

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  • Added on: May 22nd, 2006
we found that all atm cards worked in kenya and tanzania as recent as this feb/march except PC bank.

i'm from canada though, if that makes a difference
"Dream like you'll live forever, Live like you'll die tomorrow"


Holds PhD in Packing
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  • Added on: May 28th, 2006
I was in Kenya and Tanzania about a year ago. Barclay's bank in both countries took MasterCard, but the other banks (a year ago, anyway) did not. Visa was much more widely accepted. (And even at Barclay's I had trouble on a few occasions. The ATM machines weren't always working.)

As for the other type of visa, I entered both Kenya and Tanzania more than once and didn't have any problem getting visas on the spot.
Jill's African Adventure: http://blogs.bootsnall.com/jill/

Wild Jasmyne

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Holds PhD in Packing
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  • Added on: May 31st, 2006
Yes, I believe the Visa (cards) work much better in East Africa. I travelled to Kenya, Uganda, & Rwanda. The only place I had trouble with my Visa is Rwanda... no ATMs. I had a friend travelling with me in Uganda where her Mastercard didn't work at all, also the only ATM's were in Kampala.

As for the ATM's in Kenya, when I was there a few months ago, Barclays stopped supporting foreign cards and I could only use my Visa ATM in the KCB banks. These are just as common as the Barclays, chances are if your Visa wouldn't work in one, it'll work in another. I'd suggest trying to see if you can get a Visa.

Another option is going into the bank and actually getting a cash advance with your credit card. These are lengthy, but you can withdraw much more than you can with an ATM.

As for the country visas, you should have no problem getting them on the border.


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  • Added on: June 1st, 2006
Thanks, everyone! I'm going to look into a Visa check card...

Ian Bavill

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  • Added on: June 8th, 2006
many ATM's only accept Visa or Mastercardm although in all major towns we stopped there was a Barclays that would accept Cirrus or Maestro (debit cards not credit cards) so if this is what you have then you should be fine.

As far as Visa's (in the getting into a country sense) then Kenya can be obtained upon landing and Tanzania can be obtained at the border. If you plan on going back into Kenya after Tanzania then you also dont need to get another Kenyan visa and also dont need to get multiple entry as the Visa rules state that if you are travelling around East Africa then you can enter and leave as often as you like during your Visa's validity


Thorn Tree Refugee
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  • Added on: June 14th, 2006
for ghana Visa is fine in Accra, Cape coast, Takoradi and Kumasi. ATM's tend to have guards during the day or be in safe places. you might have to make a few withdrawals to get like US $200 (c. 160,000 cedis) and remember to take a plastic bag to put that big wad of money into....


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Lost in Place
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Joined: September 9th, 2005
Location: West Coast, USA

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  • Added on: August 5th, 2006
Just wanted to point out that Africa is not a country. I see so many people saying the country they want to visit next is Africa. I just wanted to point it out to prevent all African countries from being lumped together as they are all very different. Within even one country can be several languages and distinct peoples. Smile

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