We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

What to use - cash? charge?

Which Negril hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
Level Contributor
1,387 posts
130 reviews
Save Topic
What to use - cash? charge?

Again... 1st time non-All trip to the island. Usually for Al trips we bring a lot of small bills for tips. 200-250 dollar bills for a week for tips. Now we need to pay for everything - food, drinks, etc. Hotel and air, transportation from/to airport are already paid for. Now need to figure out how to handle money. Should we walk everywhere with big pile of cash on us or it's safe to use credit cards in restourants? I know there is a safe in a room for cash but sometimes even safe is not safe lol. Are there ATM mashines in Negril? I'm lost here... Can somebody share your experience and tips please? How much cash you usually spend (roughly) in a week for food/drinks?

Edited: 17 February 2010, 02:15
Central Ohio
Destination Expert
for Negril, Port Antonio
Level Contributor
12,876 posts
74 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: What to use - cash? charge?

I bring some cash but mainly plan to use an ATM as needed. And yes, there are several in Negril, in the banks downtown (best) and some privbate ones with hefty fees.

Travelers checks are also easy to cash at cambios.

Both ATMs and TCs get you Jamaican $ which i personally prefer to use over US.

But i still bring small US bills for taxis, beer, tips, and i bring a credit card too - the nicer/more $$ restaurants and bars and shops take them.

Bodega, California
Level Contributor
14,310 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: What to use - cash? charge?

When using US dollar bills to pay for route taxis please remember that the fare has gone up to 100JMD and the exchange rate is 87-1.

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
223 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: What to use - cash? charge?


I wouldn't recommend walking around with big piles of cash on you---we're both from Jersey....so we both know that's not a good idea LOL. There are ATMs in Negril, but your bank will probably charge you somewhere between $8-10 to withdraw money each time. That's not necessarily a huge problem, but it is worth noting if you plan to perform multiple transactions. Also, I would recommend withdrawing at your hotel/resort if it has one, rather than out in a more public ATM or bank. My experience with credit/debit cards in Negril is that not every restaurant accepts them, so you have to verify which have cash-only policies prior to being seated. This normally happens at some of the smaller shops and restaurants. I've also found that decent meals in Negril cost less than they would in the States, so I would calculate how much you would expect to spend on meal/drinks for a week's vacation in the States and use that as your highest estimate for what you would need in Negril. I would also say to consider that most hotels and resorts, even if not all-inclusive are now offering free breakfast, so depending on where you're staying, that may be one daily expense you can cut out from your estimate. Basically, I would bring both cash and plastic to pay for things. I would use the cash for tips (especially $1's and $5's) and smaller-cost expenses like meals and then use the debit/credit card for bigger expenses (shopping, excursions, etc).

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
10,736 posts
22 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: What to use - cash? charge?

Scotiabank customers (I'm speaking to mainly canadians here) can use their cards in any scotia machine on the island with no service charge and market exchange... the same courtesy *may* be extended to all of Scotia's network partners (bank of america, barcleys ect)....not sure, but when i use my card in any of those machines i do not get service charges as well... i rarely travel with cash b/c of this and always check the alliance page on the scotia page to see where i should be using my card in any new destination :)


Level Contributor
1,215 posts
23 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: What to use - cash? charge?

Hmm, another issue to be confused about, lol. So what everyone recommends would be credit cards for the nicer restaurants (Ivan's, Rockhouse, etc), small US bills for tips, JA money for taxis?

Do you recommend having your tours paid prior to arriving in JA?

I am very wary of confusing myself regarding exchange rates.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Level Contributor
3,633 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: What to use - cash? charge?

You can print a exchange rate conversion chart off the net. I do this every year and keep one in my purse and one in my beach bag. Wait until the day before you go as rates change often, but this will give you an idea even if it is not 100%!

Deadwood, South...
Level Contributor
1,545 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: What to use - cash? charge?

I don't use credit cards there anymore, unless I have to, and only in an emergency. I take my debit card, and usually only use that for the cash machine, and lots of small bills. I'll be taking some traveller's checks the next trip, as they are no problem to cash at the place I'm staying.

boston, ma
Level Contributor
1,202 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: What to use - cash? charge?

i really recommend trying to limit charging things as much as you can - perhaps charge the hotel only and that's it. reason being, many of the independent places don't have electronic credit card services - they use carbons and telephones...

if you are staying near one of the banks, then ATMs are probably the easiest way to go - withdraw modest amounts throughout your trip rather than a huge amount in one fell swoop.

if you are not staying near one of the banks/ATMs, then cambios may be a better option for you (the west end beyond rockhouse cambios make more sense to me than ATM)

either way, i personally find doing as much business as i can with local currency is a convenience and just easier to negotiate prices and sort your change and such. small US bills are fine for tips if you're comfortable with that.

3 posts
Save Reply
9. Re: What to use - cash? charge?

I've been living in Jamaica for the last few years.

Here is some advice.

First off remember that by being a tourist you're as safe as you can get in Jamaica.

Never carry big piles of cash in Jamaica. If you have to, split it up in various pockets one with small bills. never let anyone (this is not just for Jamaica) see your bankroll.

Credit card use is sketchy because most places don't take them. I use one at certain locations but its not 100% I would recomend applying for a card that doesn't have a huge limit and using it only in Jamaica. It's just easier if the numbers or card is stolen.

Jamaicans don't tip. It's not in the culture, so they won't think anything if you don't tip. Probably just think you've been there before. In the real touristy places it's a little more common.

One last thing is don't tell people what they don't need to know, like where you're staying going, timetable etc. if they don't need to know don't tell them.

Level Contributor
10,649 posts
14 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: What to use - cash? charge?

Bring a few days worth of cash, convert it is Jamaican Dollars at a cambio upon arrival, and then use the ATM machine whenever you need to. I wouldn't use a credit card unless you have to.

Easy...and safe.