Jamaica is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the Caribbean region. Home to some unique attractions like the Bob Marley Museum, Rose Hall Great House and Dunn's River Falls, as well as a huge range of amazing white sand beaches and dolphin-filled coves, Jamaica is a wonderful place to relax. It's a tropical island paradise, a far cry from the sorts of places most people spend their daily lives, and is also well-known for its luxury beachfront resorts, spicy cuisine, and friendly natives.
When planning a trip to Jamaica, or anywhere else around the world outside of your own country, there are many different factors to consider. One of the top things to think about is what kind of money is used in your vacation destination. From there, you need to know all about the exchange rate and other important aspects like whether or not the shops, hotels, bars, and other places in the country will accept different kinds of currency and credit cards. Read on to learn all about the Jamaican official currency, as well as many more interesting facts about paying for things in Jamaica.
Official Currency in Jamaica
The official currency in the Caribbean country of Jamaica is the Jamaican dollar. The symbol for the Jamaican dollar is $, so it's exactly the same as the symbol for the US dollar, but the actual value of a Jamaican dollar is significantly lower than a dollar in the United States. The exchange rate can vary over time, but in general, you would need over 100 Jamaican dollars to have the equivalent of a single US dollar.
Coins and Notes in Jamaica
Like most currency systems around the world, the Jamaican dollar uses a system of coins and notes. You can find coins for the following denominations of currency:
The coins in Jamaica are all clearly marked with their monetary values and you can see different figures from Jamaican history on the reverse side of each coin, with some examples being like Norman Washington Manley on the $5 coin and Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr. on the $20. The 1 cent coin is the only coin to not feature a prominent figure from the country's past; instead, the 1 cent coin shows the picture of an ackee, a popular fruit originally grown in Africa but also used throughout the Caribbean.
There are also several different banknotes to be found in Jamaican currency. You can find banknotes with the following denominations in Jamaica:
Again, the notes are decorated with images of various figures from Jamaica's history like Samuel Sharpe on the $50 note and Michael Norman Manley on the $1,000. On the other side, the notes feature images from various locations around Jamaica like Montego Bay on the $50 note and Dunn's River Falls on the $100 note.
Using Credit Cards in Jamaica
Credit and debit cards can be used in Jamaica, so this will make things a lot easier for people who don't want to worry about converting currency and figuring out all the right amounts for everything. You'll find credit cards to be accepted in the main hotels and restaurants, as well as around the main touristic areas.
However, if you want to head out and explore the island, purchasing food from street vendors or stopping off at smaller shops and locations, you might find that credit cards won't be accepted, in which case it makes sense to have a small amount of cash on your person. However, if you just plan on staying around the hotel area and making use of the main touristic facilities, you won't need any Jamaican currency at all.
Using US Dollars in Jamaica
Interestingly, despite the fact that the US dollar is not the official currency of Jamaica, the country has close ties with America and does therefore use the American dollar too. This means you can travel with US dollars and simply use them when making your purchases. In fact, if you spend time in the main touristic areas, most of the prices you see quoted will be given in US dollars.
The hotel and restaurant staff will also happily accept tips in this currency, and the vast majority of hotels and resorts accept US dollars too. A key note, however, is that only notes are accepted. Places won't accept US dollar coins, and if you do make purchases with US dollars, you'll usually get your change back in Jamaican dollars.
Which Currency is Best to Use in Jamaica?
The answer to this question really depends on your own personal plans for the trip. If you're going to be staying around the hotel and making use of all-inclusive facilities, you really probably don't need any Jamaican dollars at all. The hotels and on-site restaurants will all accept USD. Most of the touristic locations will accept money in this format too.
However, if you'd like to get away from the main touristic hotspots and visit a little more of Jamaica to see a more authentic side to this Caribbean country, it makes sense to consider taking some Jamaican dollars too. So the main piece of advice here is to consider where you’re going to be spending your time and what you’re going to be doing on your trip and choose your currency accordingly.
Tips for Currency in Jamaica
Follow the following tips to make sure you get the best value and don’t encounter any problems when making purchases and paying for things in Jamaica in either USD or Jamaican dollars:
-Be sure to check out the exchange rate at multiple locations before buying any Jamaican dollars to ensure you get the best deals.
-Carry some small notes of Jamaican dollars with you if you head out from the main touristic areas as you’ll usually find that places either won’t accept USD or will offer better prices if you pay in Jamaican dollars.
-If you do buy things with USD, you’ll get your change back in Jamaican dollars and each location will use their own conversion rates to figure out how much change to give you, so be careful in these locations.
-If someone is quoting you a price in ‘dollars’ and you aren’t sure whether they’re referring to USD or Jamaican dollars, simply ask and confirm the situation before handing over any cash. A single US dollar is worth a lot more than a Jamaican one, so you don’t want to get tricked into paying over the odds.
-Tipping is the norm in Jamaica, even for small services, so be sure to have some coins and small notes around.