Don't bring Canadian money, you'll lose too much by exchanging it.
Best idea is use a plastic card to get Belize dollars from an ATM (they're in all cities and larger towns), and bring some US$ cash, maybe a few hundred. US$ are accepted in Belize, so no need to convert US$ to BZ$.
Some banks charge a fee for use of the ATM, but I wouldn't say it's a big fee if withdrawing the maximum possible.
Here's my standard blurb on money...
Belize has its own currency (Belize dollars), but US currency is accepted in Belize. When using USD, the exchange rate is BZ$2 = US$1. When quoted a price in Belize, make sure you also know the currency.
Banks with an ATM are located in every city and main town. The ATMs use the Cirrus/Plus system, accept Visa, Mastercard and some other cards, and they dispense BZ currency. Different banks have different maximum limits for withdrawals: BZ$1500 at Atlantic Bank, BZ$600 at Scotiabank, and BZ$500 at Belize Bank. Scotiabank and Belize Bank also charge an ATM fee, BZ$4 and BZ$3 respectively. No fee at Atlantic Bank. Your bank might also charge a fee. For me these fees are small for the convenience of getting money from an ATM.
For me, the best & easiest way to carry money is a plastic card that can be used in an ATM. My preference is a Visa debit card -- perhaps a bit riskier than other cards, but to each their own. In my worldwide experience, I found that Visa is more widely accepted than Mastercard. Don’t forget to notify your bank that the card will be used in another country.
As a backup, I carry some cash in foreign currency. Make sure the notes are in very good condition or else they might not be accepted.
Some people also like to carry traveller's cheques (they are not obsolete yet), but be aware that Belize Bank is the only bank that will cash them now.
If carrying US cash, bring lots of small notes ($1, $5 & $10) because sometimes the larger denominations might not be easy to change, and make sure the notes are in good condition. Larger notes can be used to pay for hotels. When spending US currency, Belize currency is usually given in change. Make sure you use all your BZ$ before leaving Belize because it can be difficult to exchange outside Belize.
If you want to exchange money, airports are usually the worst places. Money changers wait at land borders – usually near the immigration building.
And make sure you spend all you BZ$ before leaving Belize because they will be difficult to convert outside of Belize.Edited: 11 January 2014, 20:02
Depends where you are staying. If in Hopkins if there ATMs we didn't see one. US dollar is readily accepted. If you have no qualms about carrying cash to your destination and then putting it in the safe it will solve many possible complications. True you might lose a dollar two on exchanging but then again it is one less complication for your trip.
I think I read somewhere that an ATM was installed at Hopkins last year.
I was in Hopkins in December. There is an ATM attached to one of the stores. You can withdraw up to $1,000 Belize daily. Just make sure you don't withdraw more than you need. Have a great trip!
If you are in Hopkins I tend to be paranoid. I do not trust machines. If the ATM is not working that can cause a really big glitch.
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