Travelers usually ask whether to exchange money before going to their destination. Most of them would weigh where they can get higher rates or the best value for their currencies. Some would play safe and just exchange money in their home country before going abroad. Others would take the risk and look for money changers upon arrival.
Either way, the exchange rate does not have much of a huge difference. Your currency will have the actual value based on how competitive your currency is. The main concern for most travelers is how convenient for you to exchange money. It will pose a more significant concern, especially in uncharted destinations like Jamaica.
Jamaica is using the Jamaican dollar as its official currency. It comes in denominations of 50, 100, 500, 1000, and 5,000. The currency is widely accepted in the country. However, you may find it challenging to pay using currencies like the US dollars in less touristy areas in Jamaica.
It is essential to exchange some of your foreign currencies before your trip to Jamaica. It is more convenient to take some Jamaican dollars upon your arrival. You cannot always rely on ATMs, as some may not be serviceable the moment you arrive.
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Is it better to use cash or credit in Jamaica?
Paying in cash is the easiest and fastest way to make financial transactions in Jamaica. Even though the country also accepts credit cards, some areas only use cash. Therefore, it is better to always have cash with you when in Jamaica.
Credit cards are also acceptable in Jamaica. Some hotels, restaurants, and department stores can accept credit. You can opt to use your credit cards for large purchases, too. In case you are using credit cards, here are the significant establishments that accept credit:
- All-inclusive resort
- High end and mid-range restaurants
- Shopping centers and department stores
Some all-inclusive resorts use the cashless system. Instead, you are charged with all the incidental expenses incurred during your stay. All the payments shall be made once you check out from the hotel. You can use your credit or debit card upon your check out. You also have the option to pay them in US dollars.
You can also use credit cards in most high-end and mid-range restaurants. If you happen to run out of cash, you have the option to pay using your credit cards. Keep in mind that you will be charged 3% up to 5% of every transaction by your bank.
If you make big purchases when shopping, credit cards are the most convenient way to use them. You can swipe them when paying and wait for the transaction to be approved.
Expect that aside from the regular transaction fee of 3% to 5%, you will be paying for conversion fees, as well. If you do not like to spend the conversion fees, you can ask the merchant to charge in Jamaican dollars instead. The dynamic currency conversion or DCC is generally practiced in Jamaica.
If you would like to use a credit card on your trip to Jamaica, know the international exchange fee for the card. You might be surprised how high the international exchange fee is charged to your card in your bill. Therefore, it is best recommended to use cards with lower international exchange fees to save money.
The establishments mentioned above easily accept credit cards. The most common are Visa and Mastercard. On one side, American Express and Discover cards might have a low acceptance rate.
Where can I exchange currency in Jamaica?
You have plenty of options to exchange currency in Jamaica. If you do not have Jamaican dollars with you upon arrival, you can exchange currency in Jamaica. There are lots of accredited establishments where you can exchange your foreign currencies. You have banks, money changers, and even ATMs.
Here are some of the establishments where you can change your foreign currencies:
- Foreign exchange bureau
When you travel to major cities in Jamaica, you will see several foreign exchange bureaus. They are usually located inside a bank where you can transact foreign exchange. These are the best way to change your money into Jamaican dollars. In addition, they offer reasonable rates compared to changing currencies in a hotel.
One of the best places to exchange currency in Jamaica is Cambios. There are bank regulated where you can get reasonable exchange rates. Cambios are spread through major cities in the country, as well.
If you bring debit cards, you can easily withdraw cash in ATMs installed in various locations. ATMs are convenient to use as they accept international debit cards, as well. You can find them in international airports, major cities, commercial sites, and more. The bank cards fully supported by Jamaica are Visa and Mastercard.
However, ATMs are only second to Cambios in terms of the exchange rate. You can only get Jamaican dollars in most ATMs. Those located in major resorts can dispense both Jamaican and US dollars.
What is the best currency to take to Jamaica?
Jamaica accepts all significant currencies, given you exchange them upon arrival. However, US dollars is one of the best currencies which you can take to Jamaica. In addition, majors hotels in tourist centers generally accept USD in every transaction.
If you have other foreign currencies, you need to exchange them for Jamaican dollars. Only the Jamaican dollars and US dollars are accepted in the county. If you do not have both the Jamaican and US dollars, you can also use money changers.
Here are some of the highly convertible currencies:
- Canadian dollar
If you do not have these currencies, your next option is converting your money into the currency you plan to use. It is either Jamaican dollars or US dollars. You have to be careful with the conversion. You should first assess how convertible your current currency is.
If you plan to use US dollars, it is better that you do the conversion in your home country. If you want to use Jamaican dollars, you can buy the currency in Jamaica itself. You will get better deals if you buy Jamaican dollars in the country.
How much cash should I bring to Jamaica?
If you embark on a trip to Jamaica, you need an average of $103 per day. It already includes your daily accommodation, food, transportation, and admissions. If you spend a week in Jamaica, you need to bring cash of $1,500 for two people.
Here are the basic expenses you should consider during your Caribbean trip:
The average price of hotel accommodation cost $22 per night. It is a budget dorm room located in majors tourist sports like Montego Bay. If you want a cheaper location, you can find budget rooms for $16 in Port Antonio.
If you want a more private stay, there are twin private rooms available, as well. You need to prepare $45 for this type of accommodation. It is more expensive if you choose a standard double remote with a bathroom rated at $55. This is also good for two.
Airbnb is also available in the country. You can find less expensive accommodation via Airbnb at an average rate of $20 per night. It is a shared Airbnb accommodation. For private rentals, expect to shell out $55 per night. The rate is almost similar to hostel accommodations.
Food is affordable in this part of the Caribbean. You would often be served with seafood at a mere $4. A Jamaican patty is also available that would only cost you a dollar. It is a perfect treat after a day of traveling around Jamaica’s most visited areas.
Eating lunch is also cheap that can cost about $5. There are plenty of streetside restaurants where you can find affordable food. Even a stewed chicken or beef will cost less than $5. The food will already make your stomach complete at lower rates.
However, if you want to try more upscale restaurants, you should prepare $20 per meal. Compared to other destinations, the rate is relatively cheaper.
Fast food is also easy to find. For instance, food in McDonald’s will only cost you less than $10. If you want to eat pizza, $12 can suffice.
Of course, you visited Jamaica for a reason – visiting this tropical island. Meaning, you would want to see its stunning natural beauty and sights. For you to explore all Jamaica’s beauty, you need to allot $20 per day. With this amount, you can have passed to waterfalls and famous lagoons. For example, you can visit Dunn’s River Falls, YS Waterfalls, and the Rio Grande.
If you want a more challenging thing to do, you can go on a water rafting at the Rio Grande for $70. The activity will last up to two to three hours. The pass for YS falls a bit costly where you need to pay $17. With this amount, you will be able to see seven waterfalls already. You should not miss this one, as this is one of the best waterfalls in the country.
If you want to get around Jamaica, your best option is to ride in a taxi. Route taxis are widely available and the cheapest way to move around Jamaica. It will only cost you $1-$7, depending on how far your destination is. You can also use bus transport for a much cheaper option. The Knutsford Express is the most convenient way to get around the country’s famous sites.
Jamaica is a tipping country. Part of your travel budget should be allotted to tipping. If you eat in a fancy restaurant, expect that you will be paying for 10% to 15% service fee. If this is not part of the bill, you need to initiate leaving a 10%-18% tip on the food service extended to you.
Jamaica is a Caribbean island most travelers dreamt of visiting. It is located south of Cuba with beautiful sights to see. It is one of the most sought-after destinations that needs planning and research.
As a responsible traveler, knowing the cost of your entire Jamaican trip is very crucial. Your initial concern, of course, is the exchange rate and how much money you need for the journey. It will help you be better prepared and organize your itinerary well. Next is how you can get the best value for your foreign currency.
Hence, we hope that this guide was able to provide helpful tips for your Jamaica travel. We have carefully chosen the topics to give you the best knowledge about using money in Jamaica. We specifically included ways to get the best exchange rate for foreign currencies. May you find this simple guide helpful. Hopefully, on your next Caribbean trip, you will be able to choose Jamaica as one of your destinations.