Ready to Go to Tanzania
You and your family will soon become experts at international banking transactions. You will want quick access to your funds, and you will also want to protect your money against loss. This part covers your banking options.
The Tanzanian shilling is weaker than the dollar and at the time of this publication, the average rate was 1 USD = 1200 Tshs. Currency exchange rates are continually changing but you can easily check which bureau offers the highest rate. Most bureaus are located in town and next to each other. Avoid changing money in hotels because the commission rate is high.
The easiest way to handle your money is with an American ATM card. The advantage to using your card is that you will be assessed the wholesale exchange rate that applies to large foreign currency transactions. You should check with the issuer to make sure your numerical PIN number will work abroad. You can only draw from a primary (usually checking) account. Be sure to check with your bank about using your ATM card in Tanzania and about any fees that might be assessed. Try and pay all your transactions in Tshs. This will be cheaper than paying in dollars. Arusha has International banks that accept most Visa cards including Barclays Bank and Standard Chartered which are walking distance from your apartments.
Credit cards are NOT widely accepted in Tanzania. Many businesses and restaurants will only accept cash. Hotels, banks and supermarkets will usually accept credit cards, but it varies greatly. Cash will be your primary source of funds throughout the semester.
A Note on Currency
As indicated in the Cash section, you should try to pay for most things in Tanzanian Shillings instead of US Dollars as you'll end up paying less. There is, however, an exception to this statement: if you are planning to participate in additional tourist activities (safaris, guided hikes, cultural tourism programs), keep in mind that many of these are paid for in USD, which you'll either need to bring with you or change from Shillings in Arusha. The bills must be new and higher denominations are preferred. Day safaris and cultural tourism programs range from $20-$40 or more per day. Multi-day safaris cost more. A mid-term break to locations such as northwest Tanzania or Zanzibar (for undergraduate semester programs) and a smaller excursion (all programs) are included as part of the program.
In An Emergency
Please remember if you run into money problems, short-term loans from the Arcadia office in Tanzania can be arranged in the case of an emergency. Students will be asked to sign a promissory note and repay the loan as soon as they receive money from home. You should contact Arcadia in Tanzania staff immediately in such situations.
If you find yourself in dire straits, the State Department can help your family transfer money back to you (provided you are a US citizen). To do this, your family must wire money through Western Union or their bank, or send a cashier's check or money order to the State Department in Washington, DC. A trust account is established and a telegram is sent to the appropriate US embassy or consulate overseas, authorizing next workday disbursement to you. The State Department fees for this service range from $15-$40.For further information about this service, check the State Department's website.