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Currency and Credit Cards

Toronto
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34 posts
29 reviews
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Currency and Credit Cards

Hi there,

Apologies if this has already been asked 100x...any advice would be appreciated!

1) I understand that USD and XCD are used interchangeably on the island, but what do you recommend? What is the quoted price of food, drinks, goods, services? Seems it makes more sense to pay in the currency of the country rather than have merchants attempt to do conversions to and from USD (which I'm guessing may not always work in your favour).

2) Are credit cards widely accepted at bars and restaurants? If so, which ones? Visa? MasterCard? Amex?

3) Based on your experience and knowledge of prices on the island, how much would you budget per day for 2 people? Not doing an all inclusive, but thinking of dining out for at least 1 meal a day...maybe 2.

Thanks in advance!

UK/Antigua
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for St. John's, Antigua
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6,396 posts
96 reviews
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1. Re: Currency and Credit Cards

Prices tend to be quoted almost interchangeably. In general, things that might be bought by locals are in XCD, those aimed specifically at tourists are in USD. So, trips, vendor and town souvenirs and high end restaurants are in USD, whilst groceries and local bar prices are in XCD. The exchange rate is fixed, and not exactly in your favour (but not horribly out) and most people can do the conversions in their head without even thinking about it. You'll generally get change in XCD.

Cards are widely accepted. Visa and Mastercard are preferred as Amex processing charges are much higher for merchants.

On average, I'd allow $US150 per day for a couple - which allows for some cheaper and some more expensive meals. Breakfast can seem disproportionately expensive, so either s/c or b&b deals can be good value.

Brighton, United...
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176 posts
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2. Re: Currency and Credit Cards

Don,t fall for the price is XX dollars scam. It works like this, tourist to seller, how much is ? , Seller replies XX dollars. Tourist usually from the US hands over US dollars. When the price quoted was actually in EC. seller did not lie, just knows most US tourists think there is only one type of Dollar.

Toronto
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34 posts
29 reviews
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3. Re: Currency and Credit Cards

Thanks.

But I ain't American ;) Plus I'm cheap lol

Toronto, Canada
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127 posts
11 reviews
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4. Re: Currency and Credit Cards

From one cheap Torontonian to another, I understand where you're coming from. If you haven't already converted CDN to US then I would take CDN and exchange it at the bank in Antigua. It saves you converting currency twice. With that being said I would still carry some US depending on how you intend to get where you're staying from the airport. If taking a taxi from the airport you'll want to pay in US as they won't accept CDN or credit. Credit is accepted at most restaurants, bars and grocery stores. If paying by credit then make sure to ask which currency is on the receipt as prices may be in EC when ordering but get converted to US when paying by credit. It seems confusing but really isn't once you get into the flow of things.

Toronto
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34 posts
29 reviews
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5. Re: Currency and Credit Cards

Hey all,

Just returned from a week in Antigua, and am now in a position to answer my own questions!

The variation between EC (or XCD if you're a banker) and USD was quite interesting - if you're frugal like me, it's best to memorize exchange rates and do some quick mental math before deciding how to pay. I noticed that at some beach bars, I was quoted a much higher rate in USD (example: 6 EC for a beer vs. 3 USD). Whereas at more established restaurants, I could have sworn the USD quote was a better option.

In any case, if you're not bothered, just know that everyone will accept both. Plus, most restaurants (even the smaller ones on the beach) accept Visa and MasterCard at minimum. The higher-end ones will also take Amex, though acceptance was pretty slim.

Finally, overall, food is expensive on the island. You won't escape without paying at least 20 USD for a main dish and a drink (alcoholic or not) and it goes up from there.

Cheers!

Alberta, Canada
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424 posts
75 reviews
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6. Re: Currency and Credit Cards

Awesome, thanks for the information. Hubby and I were just discussing what credit cards we were gonna bring, but it sounds like it may be a good idea to leave our AMEX cards at home then.

Connecticut
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403 posts
3 reviews
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7. Re: Currency and Credit Cards

Thanks for the info. Btw, this US tourist is well aware that there are many many different currencies around the world

sussex
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481 posts
196 reviews
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8. Re: Currency and Credit Cards

I now always bring Ec money.If you buy something with Us they give you the change in EC.

Got some money from the bank and they charged me £13 ! Maybe cheaper to use the card machine?advice.

St. John's, Antigua
Destination Expert
for St. John's, Antigua
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12 reviews
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9. Re: Currency and Credit Cards

@Sunlover,

Either change your money at the bank down here firstly, or use the ATM, it will almost certainly be cheaper than getting the money in the UK.

Toronto
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404 posts
39 reviews
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10. Re: Currency and Credit Cards

robbitdigital79, so how much did you end up spending on meals on avg per day? Restaurants you'd recommend? We are a family of 4 and will be there in March (can't wait, so sick of all this snow) it's my bday while we are away and I'm trying to decide on a really nice restaurant to dine at to celebrate, currently looking at Carmichael's but some reviews are saying it's overated?

Should mention we are staying in a villa at Jolly Harbour

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