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What’s the best currency to take to Jamaica?

Thanks to its close proximity to the United States, Jamaica sees a huge amount of American tourists and business trip goers every year. With such close ties to the ‘land of the free’ you might be wondering which currency you need to take with you. Don’t worry, we’ve got all the information you need, so you’ll be well prepared for your next Jamaican holiday in the sun.

What’s the Jamaican currency?

The official currency of Jamaica is the Jamaican dollar, which uses the same $ symbol as the United States. There’s no fixed exchange rate to this dollar, it’s traded publicly and rises and falls with the market. Jamaican bank notes come in denominations of 100, 500, 1000 and 5000 dollars and coins come in 1, 5, 10 and 20 dollar denominations.

Can you use American dollars?

The US dollar is not an official currency but it can be used in lieu of the Jamaican dollar. In popular tourist areas most of the prices are given in American dollars, so you can pay for your hotel room, tip the employees, buy drinks and pay for extras like the spa all while using American money.

Most All Inclusive resorts will take the US dollar, but it’s best to decide what currency to take before you travel, depending on whether you’re staying in a touristy area or somewhere more remote.

Something to keep in mind is that US dollars in note form are accepted but the coins are not. Also, if you’re in a non-touristy area and they accept American dollars be prepared that the change you get back will be in Jamaican money.

Where to use which currency

If you’re venturing out of the All Inclusive district and spending time in the cities, the Jamaican currency will be your best option. Jamaican dollars can pay for goods from local street vendors, bars and market stalls. Smaller hotels and guest houses might also use the local currency, so it’s best to call ahead and find out before you travel.

Even if you haven’t planned ahead, you can change your money at banks, currency exchanges and hotels. ATMs also dispense the Jamaican currency.

Can you use credit cards?

The best way forward if you’re not sure which currency to take out is to use a credit card. Credit and debit cards are accepted in tourist areas, at hotels and restaurants. You can use your credit card for larger purchases, take out a small amount of American dollars for tipping, and then an even smaller amount of Jamaican currency if you’re visiting the non-tourist areas.

Some All Inclusive resorts run on a cashless system, where all extra expenses get charged to your room account. When you come to the end of your stay you’ll pay as you leave, usually on a credit or debit card. If you’re staying All Inclusive like this, and don’t intend to leave the resort, you won’t have to take out cash of any kind.

As a rule, plan to always use your credit or debit card, and when needed use American currency in the touristy areas and Jamaican currency outside of the resorts.

Are you planning a trip to Jamaica any time soon? Let us know which currency you’re most likely to use in the comments below.