Currency

US dollar ($)

Daily Costs

Budget: Less than $120

  • Campground or dorm bed: $15–25
  • Basic motel room: $70
  • Pizza or takeout: $6–10
  • Car rental and fuel: $40

Midrange: $200–300

  • B&B or better quality motel: $100–170
  • Restaurant meals and food-truck takeout: $40–60
  • Car rental and fuel: $40–50
  • Museums and sight entry: $15

Top End: Over $350

  • Upscale hotel: $250–400
  • Restaurant meals and fine dining: $100–140
  • Car rental and fuel: $40-80
  • Museums, shows, major attractions, theme parks: $40–60

Bargaining

Slight haggling may be possible at farmers' markets or flea markets, but it is generally not acceptable outside of these situations.

Money

ATMs are widely available. Credit cards are widely accepted, and generally required for reservations and car rentals. Tipping is essential – not optional.

ATMs

  • Common everywhere: airports, banks, grocery stores, malls, gas station convenience stores, etc.
  • Both your bank and the ATM you use will typically charge a small fee for each transaction (from $1.50 up to 5%).
  • Local ATMs must display fees; check how much your bank charges before you leave home.

Credit Cards

  • MasterCard or Visa are accepted at most places of business in Texas. A few eateries and shops take cash only.
  • American Express, Discover and other major cards are less universal, but still widely accepted.
  • A credit card is usually required to rent a car, make hotel reservations and purchase advance tickets for transportation.

Tipping

Tipping is not optional. Service employees make minimum wage and rely on tips.

  • Bars 15% to 20%, at least $1 per round.
  • Hotel $10 to $20 for concierges if they do a lot for you; $5 per stay for housekeeping is nice, though not as widely expected as other tips.
  • Restaurants 15% to 20%, depending on level of service.
  • Taxi drivers 10% to 15% of the fare.

Traveler's Checks

Traveler's checks from American Express or Thomas Cook offer protection from theft or loss, but they have fallen out of use in the US. Some places may not accept the checks at all, forcing you to exchange them in a bank. Using a mix of ATM withdrawals and some cash is easier.

Exchange Rates

AustraliaA$1$0.75
CanadaC$1$0.74
Euro zone€1$1.09
Japan¥100$0.90
NZNZ$1$0.69
UK£1$1.29

For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.

Changing Money

The US dollar ($) is divided into 100 cents (¢). Coins come in denominations of 1¢ (penny), 5¢ (nickel), 10¢ (dime) and 25¢ (quarter). Quarters are the most commonly used coins in vending machines, toll booths and some parking meters, so it can be handy to have a stash of them. Bills (banknotes) come in $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations – $2 bills are rare, but perfectly legal. In smaller places, cashing $100 can be difficult. Carry some small bills, especially for tips.