The Malawi kwacha, abbreviated MK, is the local currency, and its ISO 4217 international currency code is MWK. The currency may be changed at any time (but impossible to get rid of outside the country)
Almost everyone will take “hard” foreign currency (Forex), especially for bigger transactions. Xpats in Malwai may choose to seek specialist FX transfer via businesses with a worldwide reach, such as those available at MCT.com, to lower their living costs. If you bring foreign currency (forex) into the country and break the law by exchanging on the black market – in Lilongwe, this is done by using the people standing outside Metro (opposite Spar/Shoprite), they can give you an extra 40-50 kwacha to the dollar, pound, or euro (use that as a rough estimate). Get a cab to drop you off here on the way to the airport! Malawian kwacha may be exchanged for Zambian kwacha at the border, at banks, or on the black market. Larger foreign bills are preferred and may fetch much higher interest rates. It is often simpler to avoid going to the black market altogether and just make transactions using foreign money.
Acceptance of credit cards is sporadic but improving. The bigger hotels take Visa and MasterCard. ATMs are becoming considerably more widespread, and they may be found at many banks in large cities; nevertheless, the most frequent card used is a Master or Visa card. The finest ATMs to use are those of Standard Bank, Eco Bank, and the National Bank of Malawi, which all accept Master and Visa cards.
Banks, currency bureaus, and certain high-end hotels accept travellers’ cheques. The number of hotels that take travelers’ checks seems to be dwindling. If you haven’t talked to the hotel, don’t depend on them. In addition, banks often want your original bank documentation from when you bought the traveller’s cheques. You may not be able to swap them without it. Cash in US dollars is your best chance for a higher exchange rate.