I bet you’re already counting down the days until your trip to Punta Cana. Whether it’s for your wedding week, a family vacation, or a solo trip, there are a few things that you’ll want to know before you go – especially when it comes to currency in Punta Cana.
Do you need to bring cash? Can you pay with a credit card? What’s the ATM situation? How much should you tip? These are all things I’ll cover in this guide. So stick around as we explore all things currency in Punta Cana.
What Currency Should I Take to Punta Cana?
Let’s keep it simple: US Dollars are widely accepted in Punta Cana ~ and preferred ~ so you’ll want to bring USD with you on your trip. But forget the quarters and dimes at home as US coins won’t be accepted in the DR.
Around the resort, prices at the spa, gift shop, etc. will usually be listed in USD, and you’ll want to tip in USD, too. Most excursions will charge in dollars – as well as your photo sessions and wedding services.
You’ll also want to bring plenty of small bills for tips. One-dollar bills are ideal. But two-dollar bills are good luck.
So what about Dominican Pesos?
Yes… The official currency in the Dominican Republic is the Dominican Peso (DOP). If you’re planning on going off the resort and exploring the town (which I highly recommend!), then you’ll probably want to exchange your USD to DOP.
Everywhere you go will accept USD, but you’ll usually get a better rate if you’re paying in DOP.
Where Can You Exchange Currency in Punta Cana?
Don’t exchange money at the airport or at your resort. They offer the worst exchange rates. Instead, find a casa de cambio (money exchange house) or a bank instead.
Just be aware that when exchanging at a bank, you will need to show your passport – so don’t forget it back in your hotel room.
ATMs in Punta Cana
Please, please, please, do not rely solely on the ATMs in Punta Cana to take out cash for your vacation. First of all, you can only take out Dominican Pesos. You can’t take out USD or any other currency. Secondly, the ATMs in Punta Cana are not very reliable. They’re usually out of service or out of cash completely. And while they are starting to put more ATMs in the resorts and tourist areas, they’re still not readily available.
Not to mention:
ATM fees are really high in the DR! Most ATMs will charge between $10-$20 just to make a transaction. Some fees are even higher. They may even take a percentage of the amount you’re taking out. Your bank may also charge an international fee for using a foreign ATM.
Also, be advised that the ATMs in the Dominican Republic have a daily withdrawal limit of 10,000 DOP (roughly $180).
Do Credit Cards Work in Punta Cana?
The simple answer is yes. Credit cards are accepted at most places in Punta Cana – but not all. Most of the larger restaurants, bars, and grocery stores will accept credit cards. Some smaller convenience stores are starting to accept cards, but it can be hit or miss.
There are still many services that do not accept credit cards so it’s best to bring some cash on your trip.
Taxis, fruit stands, souvenir shops, and vendors on the beach do not usually accept credit cards. Neither do some of the smaller restaurants and food trucks.
Some restaurants and bars will charge more if you pay with a card (or will give you a discount if you pay in cash). And your bank may charge an international transaction fee each time you swipe your card.
If you are going to pay with a card on your trip, here are a few tips:
- Let your bank/credit card company know that you’re traveling to the Dominican Republic before you go. That way they don’t block the payment or freeze your card when they see a foreign transaction.
- Be sure to check what the fees are for using your card internationally. In most cases, credit cards have lower fees than debit cards, and credit cards have better security features.
- It’s best to bring a Visa or Mastercard as other brands aren’t as widely accepted.
- When making purchases, you’ll likely be given the option to pay in DOP or in your local currency. Usually, you’ll get a better exchange rate if you choose DOP.
Now let’s take a moment to talk about excursions specifically.
Paying for Excursions
Of course, you want to book the best excursions during your trip! You’ve got to have some fun! But you may be wondering how you pay for them.
Can you pay for excursions with a credit card?
In most cases, yes, you can. But…. it totally depends on the vendor. Some vendors will give you a discount if you pay in cash. Some vendors only accept cash.
Even if you are able to purchase the excursion with a card, you’ll want to bring cash with you on the actual day of the excursion. That way, you can purchase souvenirs like rum, coffee, cigars, and coconut oil. You can also order a beer or a piña colada on the beach. Or give a tip to your awesome tour guide. Whatever the case, it’s always good to have a couple bucks just in case you want to buy something.
You’ll usually get the best price if you purchase excursions from vendors on the beach. You can put your bartering skills to use and haggle the price as low as possible. But when you’re making the payment, get a receipt and confirm all the details. Get the vendor’s name and contact info. Confirm pickup time and location. Get as much info as you possibly can. Make sure they’re reputable!
Unfortunately, there are some scammers in this world. In this case, they’ll sell you an excursion and then never pick you up. Basically, they’ll take your money, and you’ll never see them again. So be extra cautious and use common sense throughout your trip. Trust me, I’m not telling you this to scare you. I just want you to be prepared and avoid making this mistake. It doesn’t happen often – but it can happen.
Tipping at Resorts in Punta Cana
This can be a tricky topic as everyone has different ideas on when to tip and how much is customary. Plus, this is kind of a hidden expense that most people aren’t fully prepared for – especially when it comes to tipping at all-inclusive resorts. So let’s start there.
Here’s a quick guide to show you how much you should be tipping each person at your resort.
- Bellboy: Tip $2-$3
- Bartender: Tip $1-$2 every couple of drinks, especially if you’re ordering complicated cocktails.
- Servers for breakfast and lunch: Usually you’ll have these meals at the buffet, and the servers are only responsible for bringing drinks and silverware, so you can tip $1-$3 every couple of meals.
- Dinner service: If you’re eating at the buffet, you can follow the rule above. If you’re eating at an a la carte restaurant, you’ll want to tip $5-$10 depending on the level of service you receive and the number of people in your party.
- Room service: If this service is included at your resort, you’ll want to tip $2-$3 for each order. If it’s not included, a 10% tip is recommended.
- Concierge: If you have a private concierge, they’re usually working all day and night to make sure you have everything you need throughout your trip. You’ll really want to tip based on the level of service you receive. Usually, around $5 per request is considered normal. And I recommend tipping as a lump sum at the end of your stay.
- Maid service: This is optional, but I usually recommend tipping on the first day of your trip. Then you’ll usually get better service throughout your stay – and a full minibar, too. If they do an outstanding job, you can also tip at the end of your stay.
A Few Extra Notes on This:
While tipping is definitely appreciated, it is not required. You will likely get better service if you offer small tips throughout your trip, but try to avoid over-tipping as it can actually cause more harm than good.
Keeping that in mind, be sure to bring small bills with you. It’s very difficult to get change at the resort!
Tipping Off the Resort
When you’re venturing off the resort, it can be confusing to guess how much you’re supposed to tip. Whether you’re checking out a local bar or restaurant, getting pampered at the spa, or even doing some grocery shopping, you’ll want to know how much money to bring. You may even be confused when your bill arrives and has some extra charges on there that weren’t listed on the menu.
So let’s talk about it:
First, let’s start with bars and restaurants as this is probably where you’ll head to first.
You’ll want to look over the menu when you arrive to see if the tax (ITBIS) is included in the prices listed or not. Usually, they’re not included. ITBIS is going to be 18% added onto your bill. Some places will also include a legal tip that is 10%. I will mention that most of the time, this 10% doesn’t actually go to your server so it’s nice to tip a few extra dollars if you can.
If a legal tip isn’t included on the bill, you can tip 10-15% for your food and drinks.
Next, let’s talk about spa services.
If you’re getting a massage, getting your hair and makeup done, or getting a mani/pedi, the tip really depends on the service you receive. Assuming that they really did an excellent job, you can tip 10-15%. If it was just okay, tip 5%.
Finally, let’s take a minute to mention the grocery store baggers. You should give a small tip to the boys who bag your groceries. You can tip your small coins here if you have pesos – or tip $1-$2 if they help you to your car.
Final Thoughts on Currency in Punta Cana
Well, there you have it. That’s pretty much everything I know about the currency in Punta Cana. I hope these tips have been helpful! Hopefully, you’ll also feel a little more prepared for your upcoming trip. Try not to stress too much about money. You’re on vacation, after all. And no matter what, I know you’re going to have an amazing time in Punta Cana!