If you’re traveling from the US to Belize, you’re in luck: just bring your US dollars with you! The Belize Dollar may be the official currency of Belize, but it’s pegged to the US dollar on a 2:1 ratio, and the two are used interchangeably.
However, the way you deal with money in the US isn’t necessarily the way it’s done in Belize. Here’s what you need to know.
What forms of payment are accepted?
You can pay for things in US or Belize dollars, but expect to receive your change in the local currency. You also can’t pay using US coins, so leave those pennies at home. Credit cards are gaining popularity but may not be widely accepted except at restaurant/bars, tour offices, and hotels. Of the major credit cards, neither Amex nor Discover are rarely accepted, due to their hefty merchant fees. You’ll want cash for tips for your tour operators, resort or hotel staff, and services such as restaurant and spa.
What denominations should I carry?
Smaller bills are more widely accepted than large ones, especially in villages or in boutique shops and restaurants. These may not have the change available to cash a large bill, or they may be concerned about counterfeit bills. If you do receive bills in large denominations, bigger supermarkets or bars in tourist areas may be able to help out. One more thing: ensure that your bills are in good condition. Some places won’t accept bills that are bent, torn or worn.
Is that price in Belize or US dollars?
Sometimes it can be hard to know whether a price is in US or Belize dollars. Usually more expensive items, such as hotels or tours, are in US dollars, while the prices seen on menus or in shops and restaurants are in Belize dollars. Usually you’ll find the currency clearly posted, but if you’re not sure whether you’re being quoted Belize or US dollars, simply ask.
Where can I withdraw money?
There are ATMs in all of the bigger towns and tourist areas. Note that these dispense Belize dollars and that many have a daily limit. You’ll be charged two separate fees each time you withdraw money, so bear that in mind when taking money out. Additionally, Belize dollars are only accepted within Belize and in some towns immediately over the border, so avoid taking out too much cash, particularly towards the end of your stay.
What about exchanging money?
If you’re arriving with USD, don’t bother exchanging it, as rates will be worse than the 2:1 exchange. If you’re coming from another destination, exchange your money before arriving in Belize – and exchange it into USD for best results.
What to do with those leftover Belize dollars?
Cash is often the best way to tip any maids, drivers or attendants. If you still have more Belize dollars, ask your resort or hotel about exchange options.