The unit of currency in French Polynesia is the cours de franc Pacifique (CFP; Pacific franc), referred to simply as ‘the franc’, and it’s pegged to the euro.

ATMs

  • Known as distributeurs automatiques de billets (DABs) in French, ATMs will give you cash via Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus or Maestro networks.
  • International cards generally work only at Banque Socredo ATMs; luckily most islands have at least one of these. You’ll need a four-digit pin number.
  • There’s a Socredo ATM at Faa’a International Airport.
  • Some post offices are also equipped with ATMs.

Banks

  • There are three major banks operating in French Polynesia: Banque de Tahiti, Banque de Polynésie and Banque Socredo. They change major foreign currencies, but a transaction fee applies – usually from 600 CFP to 950 CFP.
  • The best currencies to bring are US dollars and euros.
  • All the main islands in the Society group, apart from Maupiti, have at least one banking agency. In the Tuamotus, only Rangiroa has a permanent banking service. In the Marquesas, there are Socredo agencies on ‘Ua Pou, Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa. In the Australs group, Rurutu and Tubuai have some banking services.

Credit Cards

All top-end and midrange hotels, restaurants, jewellery shops, dive centres and the bigger supermarkets accept credit cards, sometimes exclusively Visa or MasterCard, but they usually require a 2000 CFP minimum purchase. You can also pay for Air Tahiti flights with a card. Most budget guesthouses and many tour operators don’t accept credit cards.

Tipping

Tipping is not a part of life in French Polynesia. The price quoted is the price you are expected to pay, which certainly simplifies things. In special circumstances, such as an excellent tour or great service by the hotel cleaning crew, a tip is appreciated.

Withdrawal Limits

Check with your bank before you leave home to ensure that the card you plan to use to withdraw cash doesn’t have a low daily or weekly limit. Some travellers (particularly those with European-based cards) find that they are only able to take out 35,000 CFP per week in French Polynesia – not nearly enough if you plan on going to smaller guesthouses or restaurants that don’t take credit cards.

Exchange Rates

AustraliaA$179 CFP
CanadaC$179 CFP
Euro zone€1119 CFP
Japan¥10090 CFP
New ZealandNZ$174 CFP
UKUK£1164 CFP
USUS$1108 CFP

For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com

Snapshot

ATMs are found on main islands. Credit cards are accepted at hotels and restaurants on main islands, but not at family pensions or on remote islands.