This is most likely the most important topic. In the Dominican Republic -cash is King and maybe Queen and Jack. There are many places that just take cash! I had to use cash to buy a mattress set, they wouldn’t accept any other type of payment and they were a furniture company that had lots of expensive furniture. Coins start at $1 peso (DOP) which are almost hard to find and for which if you are expecting in change you most likely won’t get it. Other coins – $5, $10, and $25 DOP. DOP bills – $20, $50, $100, $200, $500, $1000, $2000. It’s funny when the cashier tells you they owe you $5 peso coin. How will they remember? They don’t tell you if they owe you change less than $5 pesos it’s just understood. It’s irritating that sometimes they don’t have change for a $500 peso bill. Forget $1000 peso bill even though most bank ATM’s give you change in $500’s and $1000. Sometimes I wonder if they just want a big tip. Don’t even think about the $2000 pesos bill! Not even if you are planning on buying something that cost more than $1000 pesos. You can become targeted for this one bill. Usually indicates you have money to spend, you may have more than 1 of these bills (because who really goes to the bank for $2000 when they charge you a teller assisted fee for anything less than $20,000), whoever you gives this to most likely would have to go to the bank to deposit it. Read my article on being safe in the DR streets.
NOTE: You can always offer US dollars; it’s accepted by almost anyone and anywhere but you will most likely pay much more than if you just used pesos.
Currently, a $1 US dollar (USD) would be bought at about $46. So for each $1 USD, you give to an exchange place (usually bank, Western Union, Caribe Express, Casa de Cambio, hotels) would give you $46 pesos (DOP). I think the exact exchange rate may differ just slightly at different locations. Here is Scotiabank’s direct link to the current exchange rate. And if you want a current exchange calculator you can try here > N Calculators.
NOTE on the $20 bill: It’s a new bill and everyone I met doesn’t like it. It’s soo smooth that if you put it in your pocket it facilitates almost everything else in your pocket from falling out, especially other bills.
What about Credit Cards?
Yes, credit cards are accepted at almost all major companies, stores, and even utility companies. Usually just visa and Master card. American Express is not accepted everywhere usually there is an American Express logo if it is. Discover NOT. Before you go only using your credit card/ debit card you may want to call your card issuer and ask about foreign transaction fees and daily limits. The foreign transaction fees sometimes are worth it and the daily limit is almost always lower than your US daily limit. While you at it let them know where you are and for how long so that they don’t flag most of your transactions as fraudulent. Now careful with your cards – I have heard cards being duplicated especially at gas stations or when you at a mall.
What about Checks?
I heard checks exist but they are barely seen at least by regular locals. Instead of providing a check including a bank check they provide their bank and bank account number. Yes, their bank account number to deposit money either electronically or physically into that account.
What are some major banks in the DR?
- Banco BHD
- Banco de Reservas
- Banco Lopez de Haro
- Banco Popular – personally I feel this is the better of the banks in the DR, for the services, hours, availability, apps, benefits to its members, ATM availability, etc.
- Banco Santa Cruz
- Banco Vimenca
You will find some banks open at 8 am others at 9 am and close at either at 4 pm or 5 pm if it’s a regular bank location. Mall banks have mall hours – until 9 pm M-F. If possible avoid banks during the 15th, 30th, or Friday of any month. 15th and 30th are paydays. There are usually extremely long lines during these times leading outside the bank like an American black Friday. People want money in their pocket to either pay bills or spend on the weekend and it’s not an online system.
Is there any missing information or anything you would like to add about using money in the DR. Is there a bank that I missed and that you think is a good bank? If so please comment below.