New Zealand dollars are used in the Cook Islands. You’ll probably get a few Cook Islands coins in change (in denominations of 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1, $2 and $5). The Cook Islands prints a $3 note that’s quite collectable and available at the Philatelic Bureau in Avarua. Note that Cook Islands currency cannot be exchanged anywhere in the world.
There are limited ATMs and banks on Rarotonga and Aitutaki, and using credit cards is also widely accepted on the nation’s main two islands. Credit cards are accepted at the larger hotels on Aitutaki and at some places on ‘Atiu, but for other islands cash is essential.
A 15% VAT (value-added tax) is included in the price of most goods and services. All prices quoted include VAT. A departure tax when leaving the Cook Islands is already incorporated into international air tickets.
Tipping is not customary in the Cook Islands, but it’s not frowned upon for exceptional service. Haggling over prices is considered rude.