Tanzania’s national currency is the Tanzanian Shilling (TSH, /=). There are five bills and six coins:
The denominations are 10000 (Red), 5000 (Violet), 2000 (Brown), 1000 (Blue), and 500 (Green).
Coins in denominations of 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, and 5 dollars.
The size and color of notes and coins differ. The biggest note is 10,000 dollars, while the smallest is 500 dollars.
It’s worth noting that Tanzanian currency exchangers typically charge various rates for different US$ denominations, with bigger and fresher notes receiving a better rate than older and smaller ones. The conversion rate differential between $1/$5 notes and $50/$100 bills may be as much as ten percent. Older US $100 bills are no longer recognized in Tanzania, and any bill issued before 2003 would almost certainly be rejected. It’s also advisable to avoid exchanging notes that have pen marks or other writing on them. Finally, be aware that if you withdraw a big sum of money, such as $400 US, you will be required to carry over 40 notes!
When buying in tiny stores, a.k.a. dukas, the 10000 and 5000 notes may be difficult to break. In Tanzania, it is generally the duty of the buyer to give precise change. However, if they do agree to give change, you may be left with many low-quality 1000 and 500 notes. You won’t have the same issues at the big hotels and restaurants that cater to foreigners.
In Tanzania, most shops, restaurants, and hotels accept Tsh as payment. Payment for tourist visas, national park entrance fees (which must be paid in US dollars by non-residents), and safaris and Kilimanjaro climbs, which are usually priced in US dollars, are among the exceptions (though payment will be also accepted in other currencies). Prices in Zanzibar are usually in US dollars (including the ferry ticket from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar), and non-residents must pay in foreign currency for hotels (although the hotel will change Tsh for you).
Tanzanian Shillings may be exchanged into US dollars, Euros, and British Pounds at most hotels. Other currencies, such as Canadian or Australian dollars, may be accepted, albeit at much lower rates than the market rate. The city core and the Msasani Peninsula have the majority of ATMs. Equity Bank, Eco Bank, I&M Bank, KCB, Stanbic ATMs accept Master card, PLUS, Cirrus, Union Pay, American Express, JCB, and Diners Club compatible cards for withdrawals from bank accounts back home. Additionally, nearly all Tanzanian banks with ATMs will accept cash advances on credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Union Pay, JCB, and Diners Club provided you have a PIN number for your card. You may be shocked to learn that you’re a “shillionaire” if the ATM shows your home balance in TSh.
All Tanzanian banks have made it almost difficult to cash traveler’s checks. Credit card withdrawals from personal accounts are considerably simpler these days, thanks to the increased availability of ATMs.
Credit cards are accepted in major supermarkets, shopping malls, large hotels, resorts, and some travel agencies.
Many tourist towns have marketplaces selling typical “African” items. Interesting presents include beaded jewelry, carved soapstone, and Masai blankets. Most “ebony” wood is false (shoe polish), with the exception of the Makonde tribe of Tanzania and Northern Mozambique, who carve masks and other sculptures out of ebony and mpingo wood in the extreme south-east of the nation. Prepare to haggle over everything. With the exception of Makonde masks, masks are not characteristic of most East African tribes, and those seen in marketplaces are either imported from West Africa or odd items created especially for visitors.
Paintings of the Tinga Tinga style, named for the painter who invented it, may be seen all over the place. Their unique design and colors make for eye-catching mementos. For TS 5,000 – 10,000, you can have a standard-size artwork. In Dar es Salaam, there is a Tinga Tinga school where you may buy paintings directly from the painters.
If you purchase too many souvenirs on your trip, you may ship them home through air freight. Many airlines will enable you to check extra packages for a charge when you travel, which makes sense if you’re flying back home. However, if you want to continue, air freight may be the best option. Many of the stated prices do not include 20% VAT or a 13.5 percent “fuel fee” as of December 2008.