Travelling around with money in Jamaica

by Sammy


My family of 6, 2 children and grandparents, are traveling to Jamaica, staying for a week at a villa rented through VRBO.

We're going to need a large sum of money to pay for the staff, transport, food, etc., Just wondering if I should take cash, get travelers checks, or use credit card and ATM's there.

There is no safe at the villa and I really don't want to carry around upwards of $1000 cash, I don't even do that at home.

The villa is in the Discovery Bay area, very secluded, we will be relying on paid drivers to get around, just wondering what others have done that worked for them.

ANSWER: January 19, 2010 by Wellesley Gayle

Hi Sammy,

That makes perfect sense.

I would agree with you not to take large sums of cash around. At the least of it, you become uncomfortable and it will show - turning you into an easy target.

I always encourage my site visitors to keep a bit of both currencies. Although most suppliers in the resort/tourist areas trade in the USD, you'll find you can pay in Jamaican dollars as well, moreso you can use the JA for tips, local transportation etc.

By the way, we have quite a decent number of ATM machines that will allow you to withdraw money directly from your foreign accounts.

Scotiabank Jamaica, for example has an association with the GLOBAL ATM Alliance, which includes The Bank of America, BNP Paribas, Barclays, Deutsche Bank 24 and Westpac.

Their website states that:

"When traveling abroad, you can withdraw cash or take a cash advance from your pre-selected deposit accounts¹ or VISA* card at over one million ATMs displaying the VISA or PLUS symbols
worldwide...... Our ABMS with the CIRRUS logo can be used by customers of other financial institutions to access their accounts while traveling in Canada." More on that here.

For a listing of the Scotibanks ABM outside of Kingston, follow the link below.

Just look for ones noted with a "1". It means they provide USD currency - that's what you'll need. Here is the link to Scotiabank's ABMs outside of Kingston.

I hope others who have been here before will add tips that can help you though Sammy.

In the meantime, check out my little Jamaica Travel Guide.
Stay in touch.

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Comments for Travelling around with money in Jamaica

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Jan 20, 2010
Traveling with Money in Jamaica
by: Kelley

I have been to Jamaica 3 times in the last 13 months and I traveled with a small amount of US currency (about $150.00), some Jamaican currency and a credit card.

When I created my budget for each of my trips,I decided that I would pay for all meals, activities and the refundable deposit for my hotel on my credit card.I used US cash for paying taxi drivers and shopping in the craft markets. I used Jamaican dollars as well as US dollars for tipping.

I did use the Scotiabank ATMs when I needed more cash. As the person who commented before me mentioned, you will incur some fees if you use a credit/debit card. I found that my bank's fees weren't too bad and the ATM fees were about $6 per withdraw.

Maybe it would be a good idea to leave yourself a small cushion of maybe 10% of your entire budget (if you are using a debit card), in addition to closely tracking your spending.

I don't think you will have to worry about your the safety of your money, just be smart and discreet. Also I would suggest carrying small bills as opposed to large bill. I found that it was hard to break bills larger than $10.00.

I did not choose to purchase the safe in my hotel room and my money was fine. You may consider purchasing a lock for your suit case and storing your cash in your locked suit case if it will give you extra peace of mind.

Jan 20, 2010
Travelling around with money in Jamaica
by: Shiquita

You can use a Atm or visa card if you would like.

If your card is through a US bank you will be charged 3% of what ever you spend. If you take money out of the ATM there will be a US 5$ fee from both your bank and the ATM in Jamaica plus you have to pay the fee of 3%.

I know this because although I live in Jamaica I still have my US bank account.

As far as the large sums of cash no matter where you are in the world it may not be the safest thing to do but I have done it many time without any problems.

You can always take use your CC and then just carry enough cash for things that can only be bought with cash.

Travels check ???? I don't live on the tourist side so I have no idea but I have yet to see anybody use them. Just make sure that you keep your cash and passports on you and not in the room if there is no safe.

A lot of people worry about Jamaica being not safe but I use to travel back and fourth and now that I live here for good I have never had a problem.

Remember at times people can be like dogs they feed off of fear so just come to Jamaica and enjoy your stay. Any other questions feel free to e-mail me

Jan 20, 2010
Travelling around with money in Jamaica
by: Karen Jackson

The staff villa should already be paid from your payment of the villa.

Find out if tips are included or not. At the end of the visit just give the driver, cleaning lady wiater $20 American dollars that should suffice for the time and teh amount of folks.

Taking out money from the atm is convenient but the best thing I have encountered is just have Jamaican dollars on hand not person.

Three thousand Jamaican dollars is enough for a day outing. When I took money out of the ATM it did not register in America until I came back and my account was in the negative.

In other words the ATM account of money is unreliable. Visit the Martha Brae, there is crocodile place in Falmouth.

Is the villa on the beach? Clarify payment before you leave with the drivers you depend on.

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