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Old 08-09-2013, 07:57   #1
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Dealing with cash in the Caribbean

What is the best way to deal with money in the Caribbean? Is it best to carry US dollars? Use a credit card? Stock Eastern Caribbean Dollars? Use any of the pre-paid cards available?


We don't want to carry loads of cash around or be constantly loosing out exchanging, but don't want to be robbed by credit card companies either... Any tips much appreciated.
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Old 08-09-2013, 08:09   #2
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Re: Dealing with cash in the Caribbean

Have yet to meet a vendor anywhere that didn't accept cash. Greenbacks work best, and everyone knows the proper exchange rate.
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Old 08-09-2013, 08:37   #3
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Re: Dealing with cash in the Caribbean

We used an ATM/debit card---lots of ATM's available. We kept the balances in the debit card account to what we could afford to lose. There were some ATM scams (notably Antigua), but I think everyone got reimbursed by the banks.

Note: We used Fidelity/Schwab brokerage accounts like bank accounts-- lower fees than the banks.
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Old 08-09-2013, 08:59   #4
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Re: Dealing with cash in the Caribbean

He who carries cash can have it taken.

There are atms everywhere. Just get a weeks supply of local currency via the ATM. Simple and safe.
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Old 08-09-2013, 09:14   #5
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Re: Dealing with cash in the Caribbean

In many places you'll get a better rate by paying in Eastern Caribbean dollars rather than US dollars. The official exchange rate is about 2.7 EC per US dollar (2.6882 to be exact). Some vendors, especially in the touristy areas, will use a 2.5 EC/US rate, which costs you 7.4%. You get your EC dollars by using a debit card in the local ATMs, which are everywhere, as MarkJ noted.

If you want to use a credit card, be sure to get one that doesn't charge a currency exchange fee, typically 3%. We used a CapitalOne Visa card for that purpose. There are others.

The French islands use Euros, which can also be obtained from ATMs. St Martin and St Barths will take US dollars. In Grand Case, St Martin, many the (excellent) restaurants will give you 1:1 exchange for US$, a big savings!

Do a search for more on this topic--it's been discussed here frequently.
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Old 08-09-2013, 09:55   #6
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Re: Dealing with cash in the Caribbean

An unfortunately event that happened to my son last week, who is summer travelling, is of worthy mention and has me doing a re-think about debit/credit card management for international cruising. With his Singaporean debit card he put it into a Wells Fargo ATM which then proceeded to eat it and..shredded it! Gone, history! And now he's stuffed for having funds for some time.

The lesson learned here, for me, is to have at least 2 debit and 2 credit cards available, in each my wife's and my name. And as above, some cash about the boat. Redundancy of essential items now includes having backup cards.

I found it quite outrageous that a bank would shred the card, but apparently this is policy if the card is seen as unreliable, etc. Its not enough just to 'eat' it!

Take note!

Steve
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Old 08-09-2013, 10:15   #7
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Re: Dealing with cash in the Caribbean

everyone takes greenbacks. Buy local currrrency with it if you will be there a while. Never take more than you need on your person. Have a very hidden place for the rest on your boat. On one boat I had a little nook that even I didnt find until I had the boat a couple years. It was accessed from inside a cabinet and then above the overhead in the adjacent berth. Perfect spot for a handgun and cash.
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Old 12-09-2013, 12:02   #8
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Re: Dealing with cash in the Caribbean

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
Perfect spot for a handgun and cash.
Thanks for the advice everyone. I kind of like the idea above in a noir-y movie kind of way...
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