If you’re visiting the Caribbean for the first time and don’t know anything about the Caribbean currency or what you need to change your Sterling into, then you’ve come to the right place! For the uninitiated, Caribbean currency can be intimidating, as it can vary between the islands. To get great exchange rates and make sure you’re packing pesos when you need to be, or dollars when they’re desirable, read on!
Which Currency Should You Use?
Just to make things a little more confusing, there are 13 currencies in use across the Caribbean islands, such as the peso, the Barbadian Dollar and even the US Dollar! However, the Eastern Caribbean Dollar is accepted in Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts, Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, so this is the best Caribbean currency to take with you.
Once you’ve changed your pounds to East Caribbean Dollars, you’ll end up with some coins that are, at first, very unfamiliar. However, the Eastern Caribbean Dollar is very easy to use. The coins are divided into denominations of one, two, five, 10, 25 cents, and one dollar. The smaller pennies are the one, two and five cent coins, which are made from aluminium and, to help the partially-sighted, have smooth edges. These carry a picture of two branches forming a wreath around the coin’s numerical value. The larger coins (10 and 25 cents) are made from cupronickel and have ribbed edges. These carry the picture of an old sailing galleon, along with the coin’s worth. The one-dollar coin is also embellished with the picture of a ship but, to set it apart from the lesser denominations, its edges are both ribbed and smooth.
From Low Notes to High Notes
Notes are divided into five, 10, 20, 50 and 100 Eastern Caribbean Dollars, each bearing the image of Queen Elizabeth II on the front. On the reverse, in addition to the note’s value, you’ll find depictions of something from Caribbean culture, such as the Government House, in Montserrat, Let Pitons volcano and Nobel-prize-winning economist, Sir William Arthur Lewis.
ATMs and Credit Cards
There are plenty of ATMs in the Caribbean, allowing you to withdraw local Caribbean currency if you get caught short. However, these don’t offer the best pound to Eastern Caribbean Dollar exchange rates and the vast majority of them charge interest on withdrawals. While it’s possible to use traveller’s cheques, there are only a few banks that will cash them and these, too, incur a hefty charge for the transaction. Credit cards are widely accepted in the larger towns and cities, but it’s worth checking with your credit card company to see what their international exchange rate fee is before you travel.