If you’re considering purchasing foreign currency with your South African rand, chances are that you’ll be buying one of the following currencies: USD, GBP, Euro, AUD, CAD and NZD. These currencies are used by countries that South Africa either regularly trades with, or that are common tourist attractions for South African travellers.
US dollars are probably the most widely used currency, and are often considered the “default” currency after gold. Although there has been talk that the currently shaky USD may be overtaken by the Chinese Yuan, this hasn’t yet been the case, with the USD the top reserve currency around the world. US dollars are used not just in America, but also in a variety of other countries and territories, often alongside native currencies. Buying USD can be a good way of hedging your bets, and its flexibility makes it a handy thing to have on hand.
Many South African travellers will also find themselves exchanging rand for British pounds, also known as pound sterling. GBP are used throughout Britain, and are a major source of forex exchanges for South African residents and companies.
Used by 16 of the European Unions member states, the Euro is another major currency, and is a key player in the forex market. The Euro not only has value in Europe, but also in many countries in Africa, as many African currencies are pegged to the Euro.
The Australian and New Zealand dollars are also important currencies for South African travellers and businesses. Both currencies can be highly influenced by the US dollar, and can be variable as both countries are quite dependent on trade for their economies. Canadian dollars are another currency that may be familiar to South African travellers, particularly those travelling to Canada for work or business.
Other important currencies that have key roles in the world market are the Chinese Yuan, the Japanese Yen and the Swedish Krone. However, not all exchanges on the forex market are purely currency-related: gold is also an important factor in currency exchanges world-wide, particularly given that there is currently some shakiness in both the major US and European markets.