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Should I Take Cash or Card To Jamaica?

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jamaican_money_currency_2018_100_500_100_and_50Should I Take Cash or Card to Jamaica?

by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer

What’s one thing you need when you are travelling? Money of course. Now, whether you need it on hand in cash or, on your debit or credit card while in Jamaica may take a bit of figuring out.


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Jamaica has its own currency, the Jamaican Dollar or JMD for short. Key tourist destinations and all-inclusive resorts also accept US dollars (USD). You might be able to exchange other prominent currencies, however, USD is widely accepted.

Major tourist destinations accept credit and debit cards, and ATMs allow you to withdraw Jamaican dollars and US dollars as well.

Using Cash in Jamaica? Which is best - USD or JMD?

US Dollars are the best option if you're travelling to an all-inclusive hotel for any locally charged extras at your lodging, assuming of course that you would have already paid for your accommodations online. Similarly, hotels in touristy areas such as Ocho Rios, Montego Bay or Negril, will accept USD.

Prices in tourist areas are in most cases quoted in USD. Simply put, it is best to pay for items and services in the currency they are quoted in, as currency exchanges usually give you less than what the currency is actually valued at.

It is best to convert to Jamaican Dollars if you want to discover what Jamaica offers beyond the tourist spots, especially if you plan on visiting these areas on your own and not with a tour group.

In the more rural areas, cash, specifically Jamaican cash is King, and ATMs and point-of-sale systems are not available everywhere. Tour group prices are usually quoted in USD so it would be best to pay in this same currency. Due to regional exchange rates, paying in the local currency is frequently more affordable at more intimate lodgings, small businesses, and eateries.

Also, if you pay in USD, you will receive any change in Jamaican currency which can be quite confusing. Therefore, to get the greatest deals, it is advised to bring Jamaican Dollars when travelling to less popular destinations.

The key takeaway here is, before you get to Jamaica, take a look at your vacation plans. If you will be staying in and sticking to tourist areas, travel with mostly USD cash, if not ensure you exchange to the local currency before you begin your excursions. Avoid exchanging at the airports as the cost will be much higher.

You're recommended not to carry too much cash if you are out and about in general public areas such as downtown Kingston and Montego Bay, where pickpocketing is high. Be sure to budget carefully before leaving your accommodation to avoid taking more than you will need.

Should you travel with a debit or credit card?

Cards bearing the logos of Mastercard and Visa are widely accepted throughout Jamaica. Don't plan on using your Diners Club or Discover card at any large hotels or stores, though. For an added layer of security in your card of choice, reach out to your financial services provider to ensure it will work abroad, or specifically Jamaica. Some persons, come for vacation here only to find out that their card does not work at any ATM or Point of Sale machine on the island.

Cash is the greatest option if you're trying to buy some souvenirs or regional goods. Even in the nation's capital, Kingston, some small enterprises and shops don't accept credit cards at all.

In Jamaica, cash is still routinely accepted and small stores and enterprises are more likely to do so than take credit cards. Cash ATMs are widely available throughout the island in the towns and cities. Look for cash machines in gas stations in more remote places.

However, it's best to have a backup strategy because ATMs in Jamaica might be erratic. When withdrawing cash in Jamaica, seek machines that are well-lit and ones that are inside locked vestibules.

Can I use a chip and PIN card in Jamaica?

In Jamaica, using a chip-and-sign card won’t present any issues. If a staff member is confused about what to do with your card, advise them to hit the Enter button if a PIN is requested.

Jamaica is making the switch from magstripe to chip cards, as is the case in the majority of other nations. If you have a magstripe card, you can still use it in chip card readers; you'll only have to sign a receipt.

You can frequently use your chip card with older card readers because the majority of chip cards have magstripes on the back.

Should I take cash or a card to Jamaica?

Take both and have a mixture of both currencies depending on your plans. Cards are a safe option and are accepted island-wide at most established tourist-friendly establishments but walk with a bit of cash for emergency purposes.

Now, another important question, "How much cash are you legally allowed to take to Jamaica?"

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Return to Jamaican Currency from Should I Take Cash or Card To Jamaica?
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References & Sources For Should I Take Cash or Card To Jamaica?

  1. Chris Lilly twitter (2022) Going to Jamaica? A guide to using a credit card in Jamaica: November 2022, Finder UK. Available at: https://www.finder.com/uk/using-a-credit-card-in-jamaica (Accessed: November 16, 2022).
  2. Jamaica currency: Jamaica Travel Money (no date) Thomas Cook. Available at: https://www.thomascook.com/holidays/caribbean/jamaica/travel-money (Accessed: November 16, 2022).

Should I Take Cash or Card to Jamaica? | Written: November 16, 2022

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