Dominican peso (RD$)
Budget: Less than US$60
- Budget room: RD$1500 (US$35)
- Meal at local comedor: RD$250–300 (US$5–6)
- Small bottled water: RD$10 (US$0.21)
- Six-pack of 12oz Presidentes: RD$62 (US$1.30)
- Rides on motoconchos (motorcycle taxis) and guaguas (small buses) to get around: RD$47 (US$1)
- Internet deal on all-inclusive accommodations: RD$2800 (US$65)
- First-class bus tickets between major destinations: RD$420 (US$10)
- Group tours for activities like snorkeling, hiking, etc: RD$1648 (US$35)
Top End: More than US$200
- Beachfront resort: RD$8500 (US$200)
- Meal at top restaurant in urban or resort areas: RD$1500 (US$35)
- Car rental for a week, at an average daily rate (including insurance): RD$1412 (US$30)
When shopping for jewelry, handicrafts, artwork or other souvenirs, bargaining is fairly common. Even when the price is marked on the item, it's worth a shot and usually turns out to be a casual, low-pressure affair.
ATMs can be found throughout the DR. Credit and debit cards widely accepted in cities and tourism-related businesses.
The Dominican monetary unit is the peso, indicated by the symbol RD$ (or sometimes just R$). Though the peso is technically divided into 100 centavos (cents), prices are usually rounded to the nearest peso. There are one- and five-peso coins, while paper money comes in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000 and 2000 pesos. Many tourist-related businesses, including most midrange and top-end hotels, list prices in US dollars, but accept pesos at the going exchange rate.
ATMs (cajeros automáticos) are common in the Dominican Republic and are, without question, the best way to obtain Dominican pesos and manage your money. Banks with reliable ATMs include Banco Popular, Banco Progreso, BanReservas, Banco León and Scotiabank. Most charge ATM fees (around RD$195 on average); it’s worth checking with your domestic bank before you travel whether there are additional fees on their end. And there's a range of frustratingly low maximum withdrawal limits – BanReservas is RD$2000 and Banco Progreso RD$4000 – and limits to the number of withdrawals per day. As in any country, be smart about where and when you withdraw cash. Most ATMs are not in the bank itself, but in a small booth accessible from the street (and thus available 24 hours).
Credit and debit cards are more and more common among Dominicans (and more widely accepted for use by foreigners). Visa and MasterCard are more common than Amex but most cards are accepted in areas frequented by tourists. Some but not all businesses add a surcharge for credit-card purchases (typically 16%) – the federal policy of withdrawing sales tax directly from credit-card transactions means merchants will simply add the cost directly to the bill. We’ve had reports of travelers being excessively overcharged when paying by credit card, so always check the bill before signing.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
Moneychangers will approach you in a number of tourist centers. They are unlikely to be aggressive. You will get equally favorable rates, however, and a much securer transaction, at an ATM, a bank or an exchange office (cambio).
A shock to many first-timers, most restaurants add a whopping 28% (ITBIS of 18% and an automatic 10% service charge) to every bill. Menus don't always indicate whether prices include the tax and tip.
- Hotels A 10% service charge is often automatically included; however, a US$1 to US$2 per night gratuity left for cleaning staff is worth considering.
- Taxis Typically, you can round up or give a little extra change.
- Tours You should also tip tour guides, some of whom earn no other salary.
- Restaurants Tipping generally not expected since 10% automatically added to total. If especially impressed, you can add whatever else you feel is deserved.