Where will we be able to find ATM machines? Waited too long to order Belizean money from my local bank, so will have to depend on credit/debit cards and cash. I assume we can exchange money at the airport in Belize City. Can we use our cards to get money in San Ignacio? How about San Pedro? Any other ideas most appreciated. Thanks. Leaving one week from today. Can hardly wait.
From reading this message board, most people are saying that nearly everywhere on San Pedro takes American dollars and you do not need to exchange. Apparently the exchange rate could make you a dime on the dollar if you know where to get money exchanged, but is not neccesary. I was in San Pedro in 1996 and did exchange some money, but used mostly american dollars. I am not sure about using money from any other denomination. Have fun.......
As noted, U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere in Belize at 2 BZ to 1 US. No need to exchange money. You'll often get change in Belize dollars, or a combination of Belize & U.S. You can usually do a little better than that rate if you exchange at a casa de cambio, but for small amounts the net difference may not be worth it. The Belize dollar is essentially worthless outside Belize, so except for souvenir purposes don't go home with a lot of Belize currency.
Belize Bank's ATMs (about a dozen around the country, including one in San Pedro) now do accept ATM cards on the PLUS and CIRRUS networks. But ATM machines can be down, so don't depend on them completely. You'll get Belize dollars from the machines.
I believe travelers checks in American dollars to be the best bet, assuming you can get them at home for no service fee (local credit unions, AAA, etc, usually offer them free for members). They're safer than cash, and still get you something like $2.05-2.07 BZE for $1.00 US at places like Milo's (a money changer in town). You just don't want to end up with too many BZE dollars at the end of your trip...
Credit cards and ATM's are convenient, but each carries fees that end up getting you less than 2:1 in the end... Just my opinion.
Our recent experience (January '04) is that Traveller's Cheques are great - easy to change at the Banks and easily used at restaurants and stores. Credit cards are also good for purchases. We bought some Belize dollars at the currency exchange in Houston on the way through for tips and the grocery store, etc the night we arrived, then went to Belize Bank on AC the next day. Spent the Belize dollars down the last day and used the last of them at Jet's Bar at the airport. DON'T FORGET THE DEPARTURE TAX.....you can use up your Belize dollars for that, if you need to.
I always tuck away my $20 US someplace special in my wallet or luggage to cover my departure tax and have it handy. Of course, this plan was not too effective the time that I had tucked it away so carefully, I couldn't find it until I got home. Now, it's been a few months since I was last there but I've heard unsubstantiated rumors that the departure tax is now $21.50?
A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?