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Monday, August 2, 2010

Which Currency Should I Bring To Jamaica? Where Should I Buy My Currency?

A common question asked when planning a trip to Jamaica is which currency should I bring? Jamaica has their own currency and it's the Jamaican Dollar. Jamaican Dollars come in denominations of 50, 100, 500, and 1000. While on the topic of denominations; the 100 note looks somewhat similar to a 1000 note. When it's not your usual currency your used to, and especially after a few Red Stripes, you can sometimes mix them up, so pay attention to this when paying for your drinks in the evenings.


A common question asked by travelers on the Trip Advisor Forums is which currency should I take? It's always best to use Jamaican Dollars, you'll find you generally pay around 15% less when paying in the local currency as every vendor is going to use their own exchange rate and they will always use an exchange rate that favors them.



That said pay attention to how good of an exchange rate you're getting when you exchange your money. If your paying a 15% mark up on the currency your really not saving any money by exchanging. Your best bet for getting a good rate is to check with your local bank. Because your bank makes money off your checking account, debit cards, mortgage, etc they are making money off you in other ways and don't need to nickel and dime you over currency where as a currency exchange makes all their money exchanging currency and will tend to have higher mark-ups.  Many banks however no longer do foreign currencies and others will only do Euros and Pounds but first check with your local bank. Also, because the Jamaican Dollars isn't a very common currency plan ahead as your bank may need to order it for you several days in advance.



If your bank doesn't do foreign currency whatever you do, do not exchange your money at the airport. Airports are notorious for having poor exchange rates because by the time you get to the airport you have no other options. 

The best rates can be gotten either at a Cambio in Jamaica or  by using your ATM card. Specifically in Negril there is an ATM at the round about downtown Negril. Most ATM's will give you the option of taking your money in USD or JMD. When getting money from ATM machines try to take a substantial amount of money each time instead of hitting the ATM everyday for small amounts of money. Each time you use your card you will most likely be charged a fee by your bank, a fee by that particular ATM machine and a conversion charge, generally around 3% though it can range from 2%-6%.



Jamaica also has a large number of Canadian and European visitors. Another question commonly seen on the trip advisor travel forums is which currency to take when comming from Canada or Europe. Oftentimes people ask if they should take US Dollars or JMD? 



You never want to trade your Euros or Canadian Dollars for US Dollars. Every single time you exchange currency you are going to pay a fee in some form or another be it a mark up in the rate or a commission or service charge. If you switch your money into US Dollars you are going to again have to exchange it in Jamaica and will be charged another service charge or you will use the US Dollars an get an unfavorable exchange rate with vendors or at restaurants so this is a bad idea. It would be best to bring our Euros or Canadian Dollars to Jamaica and exchange them at the cambio or you could just use ATM machines.



Hope that helps answer the question of which currency to bring. Feel free to ask any questions down in the comments section. If you have any suggestions or questions on topics you'd like covered in a future blog just mention it in the comments section. 




17 comments:

  1. Awesome info, thank you! Was just wondering where to exchange currency.

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