Traveling to a foreign country can be tricky– there are always a few hurdles to climb before you can relax and enjoy yourself. Among these are making sure you have all the necessary travel documents, and brushing up on your foreign language skills. In addition, you’ll need to find out what currency is used in your destination.
In the Caribbean, not all countries use the same currency. Many use the US dollar, some use the Euro, and others use currency that you may never have heard of! Before you go, do your research about your country of choice, and keep the following tips in mind:
1. Don’t assume you can just use your card everywhere.
Unlike the United States and Europe, some Caribbean countries are a tad bit behind when it comes to credit and debit cards. Many small business won’t be able to take them. Furthermore, most Caribbean countries have street vendors, especially in tourist areas. These almost always take cash exclusively.
2. Be aware of foreign transaction fees.
When you use a credit or debit card in a foreign country, your bank will most likely charge you a foreign transaction fee. The fee can be anywhere from a few cents to a few bucks, depending on the amount of your purchase. Some banks charge a set percentage of what you buy. Check with your bank to find out what fees you may be charged. It may not seem like much, but these fees can add up fast.
If you want to avoid these fees entirely, open a bank account with a bank that charges no foreign transaction fees, such as Capital One. This bank is an online institution that allows you to open your account in the US, but use your card anywhere in the world without fees.
With Capital One and other online banks, you can easily transfer money from your bank to your online account when you need to travel.
3. Watch out for ATM fees.
No matter what foreign country you go to, you will get charged ATM fees for taking out money from a bank that isn’t your own. However, there are a few banks, including Charles Schwab, that reportedly will pay you back for these foreign ATM fees.
The best way to avoid this is to take some cash out before you go. This will also help when you can’t find an ATM, or the ATM’s aren’t working. In Jamaica, for example, travelers have reported that using ATMs can be a hassle.
4. If you want to skip the hassle, visit a country that uses USD or Euros
If you live in the United States and want to avoid having to change any money, visit a country that uses USD.
If you live in Europe, visit a Caribbean country that uses euros. That way, you won’t have to exchange currencies. In addition, you won’t end up with extra foreign cash at the end of your trip.
Keep in mind that many Caribbean countries have their own currency, but also except USD. However, if you pay them in USD, they will almost always give you change in national currency.
5. Keep your money safe.
Follow common sense safety tips to avoid theft and other dangers while in the Caribbean. These include leaving your valuables at home, and staying aware of your surroundings while walking in a crowded place. Don’t put your wallet in your backpack, or in an easy-access pocket in a backpack.
Did you find these money tips for the Caribbean helpful? Check out more Caribbean travel tips here.
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