Monday, May 16, 2011
What kind of money should tourists and longer-term residents bring with them to Cape Verde?
The official cash currency of Cape Verde is the Cape Verdean Escudo (CVE). The value of the escudo is pegged at a permanently fixed exchange rate to the Euro:
€1 = 110.265 ECV.
There is also a black market in currency exchange. You will find some of the "street bankers" near the market on the Plateau in Praia (Santiago). You'll get a slight better rate than the banks, but I would be very cautious because you may run the risk of getting counterfeit notes. For me, it's not worth the risk of getting a few extra pennies.
Other currencies are not readily accepted in local establishments. But if you have British pounds sterling, US dollars or Brazilian reas, they are readily exchanged at the banks.
The four primary banks found across the island are Banco Comercial do Atlantico (BCA), Caixa Economica, Banco Inter-Atlantico, and Banco Caboverdiano de Nogocios (BCN). There are a couple other banks, like Banco Africano do Investimentos (BAI), but you won't find branches everywhere. In any event, when you walk into a bank branch office, you're likely to be presented with the same picture. Long lines and frustrating wait times. So, don't worry, be happy! Pick a number.
Actually, the best time to visit a bank branch is during the lunch hours from 12-3. Avoid Mondays and Fridays. The place will be jam-packed with customers. Banks are not open for business on the weekends.
CREDIT CARDS/ATM CARDS
Most major credit cards are accepted at most major hotels and car rental agencies ... but "major" chains are scarce on the islands. And credit cards are not widely accepted at most local stores and restaurants in Cape Verde.
One thing you should be careful of with the use of credit cards is that many major European and American banks may put a hold on your credit card account if you use the card outside of your home country without informing the bank. They do this to protect you from potential fraud. So before travelling, let your bank know that you'll be in Cape Verde and over what period.
FOR LONGER TERM RESIDENTS
Of course, if you're planning to live in Cape Verde for any extended period, it may make a lot of sense for you to open a bank account with one of the local banks and get an ATM card. Wire transfer capabilities often come in handy. Set this up via your foreign banks online banking system. Or if no online capabilities exist at your bank, set up the capability at your local bank in your home country before you leave for Cape Verde.