In Zimbabwe, electronic money is referred to as the “RTGS” This is the digital version of the Zimbabwean dollar. What do I mean by electronic money? I mean the money that is in your bank account and all that money that you cannot touch.
To sum it up: In Zimbabwe, the RTGS dollar stands for all that money that you have, but you cannot see or physically touch.
In Zimbabwe, physical money is referred to as the Bond. Some call it the Zimbabwean Dollar (okay nobody that I know calls it that), but most call it the “Bond.” In Zimbabwe, the bond is all the Zimbabwean money that you have and can see and physically touch.
This is the United States Dollar. The United States Dollar is the main non-Zimbabwean currency used in the country. It is important to note that we do not usually accept Pounds, Euros, and all other money that is not the US dollar. If you are lucky, you may be able to use Rands but the prices will usually be highly unfavourable. If you are going to border towns such as Plumtree, Beitbridge, Kariba, etc. You may get away with using the neighbouring country’s money.
The US dollar that I am referring to is physical money that you can see and touch.
If you want the US dollar in digital form, it gets a bit confusing as it referred to as the Nostro US dollar. This is a strange form of the US dollar because the way it can be used depends on which bank you use and which type of US dollar bank account you own. To cut the incredibly long story short, this money can either be withdrawn as US dollar notes or converted to RTGS dollars using the bank rate depending on very many factors which include the bank you are using, where the funds in the bank account are from and many other factors. This type of currency is not accepted anywhere as you either need it converted to physical US dollars or to the RTGS dollar or to the Bond dollar. I would avoid this if I were you.
What is the Difference Between the RTGS, the Bond and the US Dollar?
The RTGS and the Bond are types of the Zimbabwean Dollar. The RTGS is the Zimbabwean dollar you can’t see or touch while the Bond is the Zimbabwean dollar you can see or touch. The US dollar is the United States dollar you know.
Why Not Just Use One Currency?
Well here where it gets a bit tricky. When travelling between towns, you pay for transport using US dollars. When paying for goods and services e.g. toll gate fees, water bills, buying groceries from the supermarket, you use the RTGS dollar. When travelling within a town/city, you use the Bond dollar.
It is a good idea to have a lot of bond notes. Why? Because getting change is a problem. It is quite often that you pay for goods in mixed currencies e.g. part US and part Bond/RTGS. If you move around with a 100 dollar bill, it will be quite difficult to get change.
Do We Use Dimes and Quarters?
No. The lowest US dollar denomination we use is 1 dollar.
Zimbabwe Currency Advice
Find out what you want to buy and make sure you have enough to pay for it. If you want to buy groceries in RTGS dollars, make sure you have enough of them. If you want to use US dollars, make sure that you buy in 10’s to make sure that you don’t have any problems with getting change.
Where Can I Convert the US Dollar to the RTGS Dollar or the Bond Dollar?
You go to either a Bank or a Bureau De Change. These are found all around different towns and cities in Zimbabwe.
Here’s a quick (but a bit old) list of Bureau de changes:https://www.techzim.co.zw/2019/02/list-of-bureaux-de-changes-and-money-transfer-agencies-where-you-can-exchange-your-rtgs-dollars-and-us-dollars/
What is the Rate for Converting the Zimbabwe Currency (Bond) to the US Dollar?
Head over to this site. There is a nice table with all the rates you need. https://zimpricecheck.com/price-updates/official-and-black-market-exchange-rates/
I hope this short, quick read has made you understand the basics of the monetary system in this country. For more detailed information, click the link below and buy my book.