The question of whether or not to exchange money on the black-market is by no means clear cut.
In some countries the legal system comes down heavily on anyone found trading on the black market even if it seems to operate openly and this should be you first concern.
The next thing you need to consider is the possibility of getting ripped of by a money changer. Do you know what the current local currency notes look like?
If you know what the notes look like then are you actually being given the correct money. Some money changers use slight of hand when counting the money, always count it yourself before handing over your cash.
If a money changer does try to short change you then walk away and find another.
When going to change money never carry or show cash more than you intend to exchange.
Check the bank exchange rate first there may be no benefit in changing money on the street.
Sometimes you can get a better rate on the black market exchanging travellers cheques especially if they are unsigned. Beware though if you haven't signed them and they get stolen you are liable for the loss.
One of the main benefits over banks are that the process is over quickly. (I've waited more than one and half hours in a bank in Cameroon to change travellers cheques).
If you have to fill in a currency declaration form when you enter the country remember that any money you declare can't be exchanged on the black market as you'll need an official receipt when you leave the country.
© K.Vans-Colina 1992-2002