Currency

US dollar ($)

Daily Costs

Budget: Less than $150

  • Dorm bed: $25–40
  • Double room in a budget motel: $45–80
  • Lunch from a cafe or food truck: $6–12
  • Local bus, subway or train tickets: $2–4

Midrange: $150–250

  • Double room in midrange hotel: $100–250
  • Popular restaurant dinner for two: $30–60
  • Car hire per day: from $30

Top End: More than $250

  • Double room in a resort or top-end hotel: from $200
  • Dinner in a top restaurant: $60–100
  • Concert or theater tickets: $60–200

Bargaining

Gentle haggling is common in flea markets; in all other instances you’re expected to pay the stated price.

Money

ATMs widely available. Credit cards accepted at most hotels, restaurants and shops.

ATMs

ATMs are available 24/7 at most banks, and in shopping centers, airports, grocery stores and convenience shops. Most ATMs charge a service fee of $2.50 or more per transaction and your home bank may impose additional charges. Withdrawing cash from an ATM using a credit card usually incurs a hefty fee; check with your credit-card company first.

For foreign visitors, ask your bank or credit-card company for exact information about using its cards in stateside ATMs. If you will be relying on ATMs (not a bad strategy), bring more than one card and carry them separately. The exchange rate on ATM transactions is usually as good as you'll get anywhere. Before leaving home, notify your bank and credit-card providers of your upcoming travel plans. Otherwise, you may trigger fraud alerts with atypical spending patterns, which may result in your accounts being temporarily frozen.

Credit Cards

Major credit cards are almost universally accepted. In fact, it's almost impossible to rent a car or make phone reservations without one (some airlines require your credit-card billing address to be in the USA – a hassle if you're booking domestic flights once in the country). It's highly recommended that you carry at least one credit card, if only for emergencies. Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted.

Exchange Rates

AustraliaA$1US$0.75
CanadaC$1US$0.75
Europe€1US$1.12
Japan¥100US$0.90
New ZealandNZ$1US$0.72
UKUK£1US$1.27

For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com

Money Changers

Banks are usually the best places to exchange foreign currencies. Most large city banks offer currency exchange, but banks in rural areas may not. Currency-exchange counters at the airport and in tourist centers typically have the worst rates; ask about fees and surcharges first. Travelex (www.travelex.com) is a major currency-exchange company, but American Express (www.americanexpress.com) travel offices may offer better rates.

Tipping

Tipping is not optional; only withhold tips in cases of outrageously bad service.

  • Airport & hotel porters $2 per bag, minimum per cart $5
  • Bartenders 15% to 20% per round, minimum per drink $1
  • Hotel maids $2 to $4 per night, left under the card provided
  • Restaurant servers 15% to 20%, unless a gratuity is already charged on the bill
  • Taxi drivers 10% to 15%, rounded up to the next dollar
  • Valet parking attendants At least $2 when handed back the keys