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ATMs: if you have a Visa Card you can withdraw at most of the ATMs only there may be charges attached to the transaction and the charges may vary from one machine to another, so, if you can, it is worth checking the charges before taking out the money.
For Master Card Masteo the CFC Stanbic Bank allows the withdrawal of up to KES 10000 per each withdrawal and the number of withdrawals per day that you can make is as per the limit on your card. Charges tend to be quite reasonable.
It is also possible to withdraw cash at Pesa Point but be aware that high charges are highfor using this service.
You can exchange your money at any bank. If you wish to visit the bank you will need to take your passport. Bank staff in Kenya are not the most helpful people and most of the time do their utmost to be difficult, so you it may take some time to change your money.
Try and avoid the banks at 9am when they open unless you are there at 8.50am to join the queue with the locals:wheneth bacnk opesn it is a mad rush for the counters so be prepared for that. Also try and avoid the period from 12-2pm as this is the time locals take their lunch and queues are long at this time of day. The banks shut at 3pm from Monday to Friday. On Saturday they are open from 9am-11am.
Most of the High St. banks have ATMs but, again try and avoid the 12-2 timeslot. Don't leave getting that extra money out of your account until a Friday afternoon or a Saturday morning, as you find that most ATMs will have been emptied of all their cash, and you will be left without access to any money. Get any cash that you need to keep you going over a week end on a Thursday.
Also note that banks can be very busy and there can be LONG queues at ATMs at the end of the month when teachers, other civil servants etc. are paid. This busy time at the banks and ATMS may extend into the first few days of each new month as well..
Take care when using the ATMs and the banks. Remember you are in a very poor country and, being a tourist, most locals will assume that you are very rich regardless of the fact that you may have saved up fora year or more for this two week holiday.
There are security and police in the banks and at the ATM machines, but when you walk away from them, you are on your own so be vigiliant: tuck your money away out of sight, get a taxi to the bank, have the driver wait for you and then drive yo straight to your hotel where you should secure your cash in a safe as soon as you possibly can.
FOREX BUREAUX: can be found in many locations and do not charge commission or bank charges. In some bureaux, rates can be negotiated where larger amounts of money are being exchanged.
The best rates have been at Avenue Forex Bureau on Moi Avenue opp Safaricom Customer care, tel: 0712 677 700. They also have a branch in Mwtapa, tel: 0706 600 001 and LEO Forex at the Nkrumah Road, in the TSS Building. Although these rates have been the best, obviously, it is wise to check locally as they may not always offer the best deals.
If you are bringing U.S. currency, check your bills to make sure that the bills were printed after the year 2000. Several banks offer substantially lower exchange rates for $100 bills printed before 2000. Smaller denoination notes can also attract a lower exchange rate.
Another method of withdrawing cash in case ATMs are out of service (or to send money to Kenyans) direct to phone wallet is through Paypal and MPesa. Visit http://tuma-pesa.com for details.