The United States is one of the most popular countries in the world to choose for a vacation, partly due to its status as a global leader in fields of culture and entertainment, and also due to its enormous size and the huge variety of cities, national parks, beaches, and attractions one can see and enjoy all over America.
Whether you’re heading off on a family vacation, a road trip, a romantic retreat with your partner, or some other kind of adventure, you’ll find a lot to love in the United States. Families with young children can choose to visit the theme parks of Florida, for example, while those looking for something more natural could check out a national park like the Grand Canyon or Yosemite.
The likes of Hawaii, California, New York, and New England are other popular destinations in the United States. No matter where you’re heading in America, you’ll need to pay for goods and services along the way. Read on to learn everything you need to know about currency in the United States.
Official Currency in the United States
The official currency used in the United States is the United States dollar, also known as the US dollar, the American dollar, or just the dollar. The symbol for the United States dollar is $ and it is listed under the code USD. A single dollar is divided into 100 cents, and the value of the dollar changes over time, so you should always look at the latest values to learn more.
The United States dollar is the most commonly used currency in international transactions and the leading reserve currency in the world. As well as being used in the United States, the dollar is also used in several other countries around the world include Ecuador, El Salvador, and Panama, as well as some British territories in the Caribbean.
Coins and Notes in the United States
The following coins are used in the US dollar currency system:
- 1 cent
- 5 cents
- 10 cents
- 25 cents
- 50 cents
- 1 dollar
Interestingly, all of the coins used in the United States have been given nicknames which are used commonly by American citizens. The 1 cent coin is called a penny, the 5 cent coin is referred to as a nickel, the 10 cent coin is a dime, the 25 cent coin is a quarter, the 50 cent coin is known as a half, and the 1 dollar coin is called a golden dollar.
The coins usually feature a president or key historical figure on one side, with Franklin D. Roosevelt and George Washington being two examples, and then a symbol on the other side. The 1 cent coin is made of copper-played zinc, and all of the other coins except the 1 dollar coin are made from a mixture of copper and nickel. The $1 coin is golden in color and made from a mixture of metals. All of the coins in the US are circular in shape.
Along with coins, the US dollar also involves the use of notes.
Many currencies around the world make notes of different colors in order for users to easily differentiate between them, however the notes used in the US dollar currency are mostly quite similar, but some subtle differences in shade can be detected. Each note, or bill, is clearly marked with its monetary value and decorated with different images, usually depicting a president on one side and an important building or image on the other.
Using Credit Cards in the US
The United States is a global leader in technology and innovation, so it’s no surprise that cards are very commonly used to make payments in America. Whether you’re buying something small and simple or making a large purchase, cards will usually be accepted almost anywhere you go.
You can also find ATMs almost everywhere in America, and if you’re in a city or town, you’re never too far away from one of these machines, so it’s always easy to withdraw money whenever you need it. Most shops, restaurants, and other businesses will happily accept cash or card, and mobile payments are becoming more common around the US too.
Using Other Currencies in the US
The only official currency in the US is the US dollar, so you won’t be able to pay for goods or services with any other form of currency.
Tips for Currency in the US
Here are our top tips for spending money in the United States:
- The United States has a 'sales tax' system that visitors will need to be aware of. The rules around this tax can vary from one state to the next. In general, what you need to know is that the price you see on a shelf isn't quite the price you’ll actually pay at the counter. When you take items to pay for them, tax will be added on, so you need to be ready to always pay a little more than you think.
- The US is very friendly to both cash and card payments, so you shouldn’t ever have any trouble paying with whichever option you prefer, especially in big cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Orlando.
- Tipping is a very big part of American culture. Service workers in restaurants, hotels, and other locations expect to be tipped as part of their daily duties and can sometime take offence if they don’t receive a tip. Tips can vary from around 10% up to 25% of a bill at a restaurant.
- It's important to note that tips actually constitute a large part of a waiter’s salary, so people really do rely on them. If you receive bad service, however, you are not under any obligation to leave a tip.
- Your bank might charge you for using your card in the United States, so it’s important to speak with them before you leave and see what kind of fees you might need to pay.
- Shop around if you choose to get some US dollars before your trip to find the best rates and get the best deals.