American cash is not accepted everywhere in FP, and those stores and excursions that do take it will likely give you a very poor exchange rate for it. You should definitely get some Tahitian francs at the airport bank when you arrive. The bank, located to your left as you exit the customs/immigration area, is open for all incoming flights, even in the middle of the night.

Small shops and grocery stores will not take credit cards, but many larger ones will, and you should use your credit cards to charge things to get the best exchange rate. Make sure and call your credit card company before you leave, to tell them you will be in FP so they don't freeze your card when you spend there, and also to ask them what their conversion fees are (usually 1-4% of the amount charged.)

As for the amount to exchange in cash, that will depend on how many excursions you are going on that require cash, and how many meals away from the resort you will be eating in places that don't take credit cards. Also, many souvenir vendors don't take credit cards either.

American Express travel offices in the USA buy and sell selected foreign currency including the CFP. They charge around 12.5% to sell the CFP and the same to buy it back with an additional fee for non-AMEX customers.

There are two banks at the Papeete Airport: (1) Banque de Polynesia is located in the main concourse (go LEFT as you exit customs/immigration; it's a few shops past Mareiti Pearls) and only provides an ATM and Money Changer machine. (2) Socredo Bank is located to the RIGHT as you exit immigration, and is located near the outside curb, past the snack bar. It is open ONLY during normal daytime banking hours, but also has an ATM that can be accessed when you arrive at night.

The Banque de Polynesia "Money Changer" next to its ATM takes foreign currency, for example USA dollars, and issues you CFP currency. If you can, avoid this machine, it charges a 6.1% fee as of May 2013. The same bank charges around 1.5% for an ATM cash withdrawal from an account at a USA bank. Visa foreign transactions fees vary but tend to be around 3%.

If the transaction details at an ATM display matter to you then you should write them down before approving the withdrawal; each of the 4 ATMs used in Papeete in May 2013 were out of paper to print transaction slips.

The airport banks do give a SLIGHTLY less favorable rate than the banks in town; however, their flat fee for currency exchange is much lower (approx. $5 per transaction, regardless of amount exchanged, as compared to $11 to $16 per transaction in town). The dfifference in rate is usually only about 1-2 cpf per dollar, and, unless you are cashing a HUGE amount of currency, it's worth the convenience and savings on the flat fee to exchange at the airport bank rather than making a separate trip into town (or to the bank on another island) to exchange your money.

You will need to present your passport for any currency exchange at a bank, so make sure to have it with you.