ATMs widely available. Credits cards accepted at most hotels, restaurants and shops.
Most locals do not carry large amounts of cash for everyday use, relying instead on credit cards, debit cards and ATMs. Don’t, however, plan to rely exclusively on credit cards, as some machines (notably at many gas stations) won’t accept foreign cards. Smaller businesses may refuse to accept bills over $20.
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 $3 or more per transaction and your home bank may impose additional charges.
For foreign visitors, ask your bank for exact information about using its cards in stateside ATMs. The exchange rate is usually as good as you’ll get anywhere.
Major credit cards are almost universally accepted. In fact, it’s next to impossible to rent a car or make phone reservations without one. Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted.
Banks are usually the best places to exchange foreign currencies. Most large city banks offer the service, 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.
For current exchange rates see www.xe.com.
Tipping is not optional; only withhold tips in cases of outrageously bad service.
- Airport and hotel porters $2 per bag, minimum $5 per cart
- Bartenders 10% to 15% per round, minimum $1 per drink
- Hotel housekeepers $2 to $5 daily, 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 on return of keys