Currency in Uganda, UGX (Ugandan Shilling)
Currency in Uganda, the Ugandan shilling (UGX) is the local currency, though most tour operator’s safari lodges and upscale hotels quote in US dollars. ATMs are abundant and US dollars are widely accepted.
The biggest banks in Uganda are Absa, Stanbic, DFCU, Equity, Centenary, Orient and Standard Chartered bank. These all have ATM machines that accept international cards. Even many remote small towns will have at least one of these banks, though try not to let your cash run out as the system sometimes goes down and machines sometimes run out of cash.
The Ugandan shilling (UGX) is a relatively stable currency that floats freely on international markets. Most tour operators, safari lodges and hotels quote in US dollars (a few in euros), but you can pay with shillings everywhere.
Notes in circulation are USh1000, USh5000, USh10,000, USh20,000 and USh50,000, and commonly used coins are USh100, USh200 USh500 and Ush1000
US dollars are the most useful hard currency, especially in small towns, though euros and pounds sterling are also widely accepted.
Exchanging dollars, small denominations always get a much lower rate than US$50 and US$100 notes – so ask for larger notes when you collect your money.
The best exchange rates by far are offered in Kampala. Forex bureaus offer slightly better rates than banks plus much faster service and longer hours; but they’re rare outside Kampala.
Credit cards are accepted at safari lodges and some hotels within the country, as well as smarter restaurants, but it’s always a good idea to bring plenty of cash as a backup. There can often be a surcharge of 5% to 8% when making payments by cards, but these are slowly becoming rarer as companies become more accustomed to people paying this way. Visa is the most widely accepted card, but MasterCard is increasingly accepted.
Uganda Shilling (UGX)
Budget: Less than US$100
Top end: More than US$200
You’ll usually need to bargain with boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) and special-hire drivers, though bear in mind that there are many honest drivers out there, and in many cases the price they propose is the standard fare for a journey.