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First time to Jamaica.

Abbotsford, Canada
Level Contributor
13 posts
1 review
First time to Jamaica.

I am heading to Jamaica for the first time. This will be my first time in Jamaica for a week and am just wondering how much mony to bring with me for stuff like tips, and spending money and in what denominations? Also wondering how widely credit cards are accepted?

Connecticut
Level Contributor
13,699 posts
6 reviews
1. Re: First time to Jamaica.

A big part of the answer is knowing where you will be staying and what are your planned activities.

Martinez, California
Level Contributor
8 posts
10 reviews
2. Re: First time to Jamaica.

Hi, we just returned from a week in Jamaica last night. Both US and Jamaican dollars are accepted in Jamaica. I would bring a reasonable amount of US Dollars. My wife and I each brought $200 and got more as we needed it. We brought it in $20 bills and that was never a problem. I wouldn't bring larger denominations and I would carry a really large amount of cash around. ATMs are easy to find (except that the ATMs at Montego Bay airport were not in service when we were there) and will dispense either US or Jamaican Dollars. Scotia Bank seemed to have the most locations and cash dispensing flexibility. My understanding is that they are associated with Bank of America and that B of A customers are not assessed ATM fees - but check it out before going. With ATMs you get the best exchange rate - way better than the currency exchanges. I would get some Jamaican money for small vendors and incidentals but all larger stores and merchants will gladly accept (and sometimes prefer) US dollars. Credit cards are accepted at stores and restaurants. I'm not sure where you are planning on staying and to what extent you want to "venture out". That will make a difference. I have not stayed at an "all inclusive" but I suspect that, if you are, and don't intend to leave the resort you would not need Jamaican currency. The current exchange rate is approximately 100 Jamaican dollars to 1 US dollar (e.g. $10,000 Jamaican = $100 Tipping is anywhere from 10% - 15%. sometimes the restaurant will include a service charge in the check so pay attention to that.

Abbotsford, Canada
Level Contributor
13 posts
1 review
3. Re: First time to Jamaica.

Sorry forgot to mention we will be staying at the Riu Montego Bay. We do plan to take a few exurtions hopefully but not sure as we are only there for 7 days.

Buffalo, New York
Level Contributor
2,404 posts
8 reviews
4. Re: First time to Jamaica.

I waited to reply because I knew the answer in USD, but wasn't sure about Canadian. We used credit cards for all excursions, airports and larger shopping purchases. Small purchases we were able to use USD and always received change in USD. One of the MANY reasons I prefer Jamaica to Mexico or other islands. I prepare envelopes in advance for housekeeping. Just easier to put them out each day. Be sure to let your credit card company know where you are going!

Connecticut
Level Contributor
13,699 posts
6 reviews
5. Re: First time to Jamaica.

US$ is the currency of choice within the Jamaican RIUs.

Try to get US$ in small bills: 1s 5s 10s as tipping is expected within the MoBay airport to the red cap luggage porters. There is a sign that says US$1 is expected for each bag, but since my bags are heavy (scuba stuff) I tip more than that.

Tip the transport driver, too.

In principle, the RIUs business model is that gratuities are included, but the Spanish management does not care in the way that Sandals, Couples and Hedo does and just looks away if you tip. But you do not need to be extravagant. A few bucks for the room maid (or bring candy), a few bucks daily (i.e., not every drink) for a responsive bartender, a few for the luggage handler, perhaps a few for the server in the speciality eateries.

If you organize a few excursions with the RIU tour desk, they will take credit cards as payment. Plan to tip your transport driver.

Other folks may have different advice.

United States
Level Contributor
13,884 posts
134 reviews
6. Re: First time to Jamaica.

"am just wondering how much mony to bring with me for stuff like tips, and spending money and in what denominations?"

The denominations should normally be small ($US1 and $US5). How much depends on each person. On my last trip I stayed at another all inclusive resort with a strict no tip policy. For the week I spent a total of under $US20 while on the island (all in cash). You will probably spend more. For consumable items like toothpaste, sunblock, etc. purchase them at home as they almost always cost way more in Jamaica (they are imported into Jamaica and thus taxed).

"Also wondering how widely credit cards are accepted?"

They can be used at large hotels like the RIU (including for tours arranged via the hotel), upscale shops in the tourist industry, and in the shops in the departure area of the airport. Otherwise you will need cash. Visa and MasterCard work fine if credit cards are accepted by a merchant, leave Discover, American Express, etc. at home.

Edited: 7:29 pm, March 16, 2014
Abbotsford, Canada
Level Contributor
13 posts
1 review
7. Re: First time to Jamaica.

Does anyone know what it is like at the Riu? Do the staff expect to be tipped?

United States
Level Contributor
13,884 posts
134 reviews
8. Re: First time to Jamaica.

"Does anyone know what it is like at the Riu?"

It is a large hotel with almost 700 rooms. The pool is huge. There is a small shopping center across the road but otherwise you will need a taxi to get to almost any place. It is a very short ride to the hotel from the airport. If you are a plane spotter this hotel is great as you are just off the end of the runway and directly under the landing/takeoff path (light sleepers may want to take ear plugs). See also the following

tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g147311-d107814…

Brampton, Canada
Level Contributor
27 posts
2 reviews
9. Re: First time to Jamaica.

When are you going to the Riu? I am going at the end of April and have never been to Jamaica so would love to know how it was:-)

Abbotsford, Canada
Level Contributor
13 posts
1 review
10. Re: First time to Jamaica.

We are Going from Mar.23 to Mar.30.

When I asked if any one knew what it was like I was refering to what it was like for tipping.