"If you plan to travel to Zimbabwe be sure to prepay all charges that you can through your travel agent before you go. Zimbabwe has a parallel economy. The official exchange rate for dollars established by President Robert Mugabe is 55 Zims to the dollar. However, that is an artificial exchange rate, and the actual "black market" rate ranges from 400 to 500 Zims to the dollar. Obviously, this is a huge difference, and a lack of planning can be extremely expensive.
"It is important never to use a charge card in Zimbabwe, as charge-card transactions are processed through the central bank of Zimbabwe at the rate of 55 Zims to the dollar. For example, a very nice lunch at the Victoria Falls Hotel, including drinks for three, was the equivalent of $19 (US), if paid in Zims. The same lunch paid with a Visa card would cost $155 (US). It is scary to do the math for a lodging bill paid with a credit card at that hotel.
"I do not recommend that you change dollars for Zims at the official currency exchange at the airport, or at a bank where the official exchange rate of 55 Zims for one dollar is followed. In Victoria Falls, there were many currency exchange booths that touted the posted official rate of 55 Zims to the dollar but actually paid anywhere from........(continued)