A UK resident while planning a holiday trip to Sal did write to a popular Facebook group that he and his partner are to travel from to the island and questioned:
Is it better to take Euros or change Sterling into Cape Verde Escudos?
As you would imagine, there were a number of responses, equally arguing Euro or Escudo as preference.
Our explanation is a little more detailed in that there are 110 Escudo (CVE) to the Euro which is permanently linked. To keep the calculations simple, most restaurants publish and use a 100 CVE to 1 Euro and hence a 500 CVE meal is €4.54 at 110/1 and €5.00 if 100/1. So paying in Euro effectively can cost around 10% more in most places.
What we normally do is take a couple of hundred Euro as a cash reserve and withdraw 20,000CVE from ATMs as needed. Note however that there is a 200CVE charge levied at each ATM which means a 1% cost at 20,000 and a 2% cost with a lower 10,000CVE withdrawal. Thus it is more economical to withdraw higher amounts and is a consideration too.
We are in Santa Maria as I type. Yesterday’s 20,000CVE withdrawal exchanged at £159.19 with an applied £4.35 non Sterling transaction fee with HSBC, while the same amount was £162.54 and a £2.37 non Sterling transaction fee with Santander. Thus 20,000CVE cost us £163.54 via the HSBC and £164.91 from Santander.
The same 20,000CVE was cheapest with my Monzo card at £157.25 and zero non Sterling transaction fee. That said, Monzo will limit you to one free ATM withdrawal up to £200.00 a month and then 3% thereafter. Thus our next Monzo withdrawal will cost £4.71 and hence £157.25 plus £4.71 is £161.96. But, Monzo is still cheaper!
You’re next consideration is how much will you take home after your trip and whether you can exchange CVE to Euro or Sterling before you leave the archipelago. There are a number of Bureau De Change establishments within the Santa Maria village and some hotels will exchange Sterling too that could help.
That consideration is not a problem for us as we have a small apartment here and return year after year.
So this Euro/Escudo question does not have a simple answer. However, it simply depends on how many people in your party, how long and where you are staying. By example, if you’re staying in an all inclusive resort and venture into the village a couple of times, then it maybe worth just bringing Euro. On the other hand, if you’re traveling outside of a package holiday, then CVE withdrawals maybe the way to go. Just remember that ATMs can run put of cash, especially bank holiday weekends.
A consideration too is, there is an increasd acceptance where retailers and restaurants are now accepting VISA debit cards (Not Mastercard), so maybe use a card, but have Euro cash as backup. Note also that credit cards are still not acceped and some estabishments will charge a high percentage transaction fee on debit cards.
Personally, we still consider ‘Cash Is King’ and as a regular visitor, will choose a CVE withdrawal over bringing Euro, but it’s all ‘Swings And Roundabouts’. Your chosen currency of use will be based on your personal circumstances. In closing, it is only CVE you can withdrawer from ATMs and not Euro.