The best places to exchange cash in Ghana are foreign exchange bureaus (Forex) and they are easily found in the major cities. Be aware that the further outside of Accra you go, the less common Forexs will be.
Recently, banks have become more competitive so it is now common to exchange money at banks. You may also exchange money at the airport and most major hotels. If you do decide to change your money at the airport or at land borders, compare the rate in the city first - as it may be better.
If you are exchanging a large amount of money, and you do not feel comfortable carrying the amount on the street, it is possible for a representative to meet with you in your home or office to do the exchange after agreeing on the rate over the phone. The representative should either be from the bank where you opened an account in Ghana or a Forex dealer recommended from a reliable source.
Solicitations to exchange money on the street is not common in Ghana, even so, if it does happen, do not not exchange cash with an individual on the street. You most likely will get quoted an excellent exchange rate, but there is a high probability that the money will be counterfeit.
The US dollar is the most common form of foreign currency in Ghana, but the euro is also widely recognized. For those exchanging the US dollar, try to bring new bills without rips or tears to avoid any discrepancies with Ghanaian locals about the validity of your money.
When exchanging cash, you will get a better rate the bigger the bill you present. When you receive your cedis, make sure to count the amount you receive before leaving the place of exchange. This will assure that you have received the correct amount. Also make sure that your cedis are in good condition, as banknotes in poor condition may not be accepted as a form of payment in small businesses.
Withdrawing money from your foreign account via ATM in Ghana usually results in the most favorable exchange rates.
If you have a Visa credit card, then you will easily be able to withdraw local currency at any ATM. All major banks will have an ATM that is compatible with Visa. It is quite difficult to find ATMs in Ghana that accept credit cards other than Visa, although Mastercard is becoming more widely accepted. Stanbic bank has few branches, but their ATMs accept Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus, Plus and Diners Club.
The ATM Alliance is a global association of banks which lets members withdraw money at ATMs worldwide without commission. In Ghana, you must use Barclays’ ATMs. The credit cards issued by the following are members:
- Bank of America: United States (Note that you will still be charged an international transaction fee of one to three percent.)
- BNP Paribas: France
- Deutsche Bank: Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal and Italy
- Santander Serfin: Mexico
- Scotiabank: Canada, Caribbean, Peru, Chile and Mexico
- Westpac: Australia and South Pacific countries
- BankSA: Australia
- ABSA: South Africa
- UkrSibbank: Ukraine
- China Construction Bank
Simply stated, avoid them if you can as travellers cheques do not come in handy in Ghana at all. The only benefit that comes with a travellers cheque is security, but they can only be changed in rare locations in Accra, and only with a passport and purchase receipt. Also, exchanging cash or withdrawing money from an ATM will give you a better exchange rate than changing a travellers cheque.
There are businesses such as Western Union and MoneyGram that serve Ghana. Funds transferred this way may be picked up at approved agent locations which include travel agencies, grocery stores and airports, among other consumer locations. A fee for the service will be included.
Another option is to do a bank-to-bank transfer. Barclays Bank, Zenith Bank, Standard Trust Bank and others in Ghana will be able to provide this service. Both the person sending the money and the person receiving the money will incur a fee.