Travelers might be surprised to learn that there are many instances in the Dominican Republic where paying in U.S. dollars (USD) is perfectly acceptable, especially in the hyper-popular Punta Cana, which is fast becoming a Caribbean haven for Americans. But while the USD can be used at times, it isn’t always accepted, nor is it the best way to get a good deal.
Where The U.S Dollar Is Accepted
The following are the most common places that the USD can be used to pay. Although it’s always good to double-check before purchasing anything:
In The Resorts Of Punta Cana
Many of the all-inclusive resorts of Punta Cana are dollarized, to the point that travelers that don’t stray outside of their resort may not even see a Dominican peso during the whole vacation. It isn’t uncommon to see the prices of in-resort souvenir shops and spas priced exclusively in USD either.
Tipping of servers and resort staff is another situation where the choice is completely up to travelers. The locals of Punta Cana who work in the resorts are able to use USD to pay for things like public transport and their grocery bill at supermarkets.
The most common reason for travelers to leave the luxury of the all-inclusive resorts is to take one of the Dominican Republic’s fantastic day trips or excursions. Again, these are almost always priced in USD, and although the majority of people will book these trips with their credit card, for those paying in cash, this is another opportunity to pay in USD and avoid the costs of exchanging currency.
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Shopping In Punta Cana
There is a wealth of forum threads on the internet about where travelers can and can’t use USD in Punta Cana, with one of the places often mentioned being the shopping districts. But this comes with a catch. Paying in USD in these businesses won’t always bring the best price.
This is thought to relate to the extra costs for businesses to exchange large amounts of currency into their local currency, the Dominican peso. Although the difference in cost can sometimes be just a dollar or two, at other times, it can jack up the price considerably.
Where The U.S. Dollar Isn’t Accepted
Using USD is rarely an issue for travelers who prefer to stay close to their resort, but for those with an adventurous streak who enjoy going off the beaten track and experiencing the country from a local perspective, exchanging currency for the Dominican peso is unavoidable.
This shouldn’t be a shock, of course. The Dominican Republic is a solid democracy with a generally stable currency, so outside of the main tourist hubs, the USD isn’t as sought after by locals.
Where To Exchange Currency
The best place to exchange USD for Dominican pesos is in the country, the banks in the Dominican Republic and the Cambio’s (Currency exchange businesses) offer much better rates than currency exchange businesses in the U.S.
It is highly advisable not to use the currency exchange service in airports. This advice is solid the world over as the rates for exchanging currency in these outlets are normally much higher than can be found elsewhere.
ATMs are another convenient option for getting out small amounts of Dominican pesos when needed, every ATM will give an overview of the exchange rate offered, and they are normally reasonable.
Although travelers shouldn’t forget to notify their bank or credit card provider that they’ll be using their card in the Dominican Republic, this is to avoid it being unnecessarily blocked by fraud prevention actions.
Do Travelers Need To Exchange Currency?
Whether or not a traveler will need to exchange currency will completely depend on what type of vacation is planned. For those planning on staying in-resort for the whole trip or only venturing out on organized excursions, it isn’t necessary. But for everyone else, having a mix of USD and Dominican pesos is a must to ensure no difficult situations where purchases are concerned.
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