Where can I get the best exchange rate? |
The best exchange rates are paid on US dollars, second best on Euros and Canadian currency. The most favorable exchange rates are found at exchange houses (casas de cambio) that are accredited by the Central Bank. Remember posted prices are for cash. Most hotels will pay the same for travelers checks and cash. The Central Bank posts an average exchange rate, the result of exchange rates used on the previous day by companies authorized to deal in foreign currency.
The rate fluctuates daily
Banks and exchange houses (casas de cambio) usually post the current exchange rate for the most common world currencies in a highly visible place.
Commercial banks that operate the booths at hotels will give you a less favorable rate. But the convenience of the hotel bank may make it your best option. Actually, unless you are exchanging large quantities of money, the difference in the exchange rate is not worth the trip to an exchange house.
Note that most stores in tourist areas will accept RD pesos and US dollars, many will accept Euros and Canadian currency. However, those that accept foreign currencies will likely give you a much lower rate than even the hotel banks.
Use the same common sense that would rule if you were visiting any major city or destination. Change the money yourself at an established operation. Do not give it to someone to change for you. Do not be tempted by the higher rates offered by street vendors. While 99% of the time you will not have problems with the street vendors, it is always possible you may encounter a slick money counter intent on ripping you off.
To charge or not to charge?
Banks apply different rates and these can fluctuate daily. Expect less than at an exchange house, but there will not be much difference between bank and hotel exchange rates. And nothing can beat the convenience of using credit cards, though.
If you ask, it is probable that your bank can tell you what rate they are applying for peso/dollar transactions on the day you leave for the DR. You can then compare this to what you will get in the DR and determine if you want to charge it or pay with travelers checks. Credit cards are accepted everywhere, but you may be able to negotiate a better deal using cash or travel checks. This is because most merchants have to pay a 3% commission to the credit card companies.
Will I be able to use my ATM card in the DR?
There are more than 1,000 ATM booths in the DR, so it should not be hard to find one. You will find many located in tourist areas for visitors’ convenience. Chances are that your card issuer is either a member of the PLUS system (operated by VISA) or the CIRRUS system (operated by MasterCard), or the Europay system. So your card should work. Note that you do not have to be on the PLUS system to use a CIRRUS card, or the other way around. The PLUS and CIRRUS systems are linked, as is Europay. Most banks are interconnected, so it is most likely that your card issuer is a member of one or both of these networks, or is a member of a network that is a member of one of these.
You will get the Central Bank rate minus a 1-3% commission.
NOTE: regardless of whether you change money at banks, casas de cambio or at the ATMs, you will be issued only pesos not dollars, Euros or any other currency.
Where can we change our pesos back to US dollars?
By law, the Banco de Reservas will exchange back to dollars up to 30% of the foreign currency you cashed in the DR giving you the official rate. Elsewise, you can purchase a limited amount of dollars at most commercial banks or at exchange houses. Expect to lose on this transaction, as there is a considerable spread between the price at which foreign currency is bought and that at which it is sold.