Currency

US dollar ($)

Daily Costs

Budget: Less than $75

  • Dorm bed: $25–40
  • Takeout meal: $6–10
  • Beach parking: Free–$15

Midrange: $75–200

  • Two-star inland motel or hotel double room: $75–150
  • Rental car per day, excluding insurance and gas: $30–75

Top End: More than $200

  • Three-star beach hotel or resort double room: $150–275
  • Three-course meal (excluding drinks) in top restaurant: $75–100

Bargaining

Bargaining is not customary in shops, restaurants or farmers markets in California and may be seen as rude. About the only place where you may encounter it is in open, wholesale markets in DTLA, such as the Fashion District.

Money

ATMs are widely available. Credit cards are usually required for reservations at hotels and some restaurants. Travelers checks (US dollars) and non-local checks rarely accepted. Tipping is customary, not optional.

ATMs

ATMs are available 24/7 at most banks, shopping malls, airports and grocery and convenience stores. Expect a minimum surcharge of $2.50 per transaction in addition to any fees charged by your home bank. Most ATMs are connected to international networks and offer decent foreign-exchange rates.

Cash

Most people do not carry large amounts of cash for everyday use, relying instead on credit and debit cards. Some businesses refuse to accept bills larger than $20.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are almost universally accepted. In fact, it's almost impossible to rent a car, book a hotel room or buy tickets without one. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted.

Exchange Rates

Australia A$1 $0.94
Canada C$1 $0.92
Euro zone €1 $1.37
China Y10 $1.61
Japan ¥100 $0.99
Mexico MXN10 $0.77
New Zealand NZ$1 $0.86
UK £1 $1.68

For current exchange rates see www.xe.com.

Moneychangers

You can exchange money at major airports, some banks and all currency-exchange offices such as American Express or Travelex. Always inquire about rates and fees. Outside big cities, exchanging money may be a problem, so make sure you have a credit card and sufficient cash.

Tipping

Tipping is not optional. Only withhold tips in cases of outrageously bad service (in which case, a word to the manager is also warranted).

  • Airport skycaps and hotel bellhops $2 per bag, minimum per cart $5.
  • Bartenders 15% per round, minimum $1 per drink.
  • Concierges No tips required for simple information, up to $10 for securing last-minute restaurant reservations, sold-out show tickets etc.
  • Housekeeping staff $2 to $4 daily, left under the card provided; more if you’re messy.
  • Parking valets At least $2 when handed back your car keys.
  • Restaurant servers and room service 18% to 20%, unless a gratuity is already charged (common for groups of six or more).
  • Taxi drivers 15% of metered fare, rounded up to the next dollar.

Traveler’s Checks

Traveler’s checks have pretty much fallen out of use. Big-city restaurants, hotels and larger stores often will accept traveler’s checks (in US dollars only), but smaller businesses and fast-food chains may refuse them.