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What methods of payment to use in the Dominican Republic?

Updated: Mar 5










During a stay in the Dominican Republic, you may not necessarily need to use the local currency, which is the Dominican peso. In tourist areas, especially in hotels, you can easily use cash in dollars or euros. However, if you want to venture outside of your hotel, take public transportation, eat and shop at local stores, it would be ideal to have pesos. Although there is a good chance that foreign currencies will be accepted, it will often be less advantageous for you and more complicated because most of the time change will be given to you in local currency.



Where can you exchange money in the Dominican Republic?


In a bank:


Banreservas

This is the main bank, which is also the second largest in Central America after the National Bank of Costa Rica. Also known as "Banco de Reservas de la Republica Dominicana," it was created in 1941 by the dictator president Rafael Leonidas Trujillo (him again!) and holds most of the funds of the Dominican state.


Banreservas agency



Banco Popular Dominicano

This is the preferred banking institution of Dominicans. It is the most cutting-edge and was the first to offer online banking services to its clients. Currently, it is also the only one that has agreements with PayPal, for example.


Banco Popular agency



Scotiabank

This is one of the foreign banks (Canada) that has been established in the Dominican Republic for many years. It is also where it is most interesting to withdraw cash from an ATM because the fees are lower.


Scotiabank agency



And also:

Banco BHD León, Banco Vimenca, Banco Santa Cruz, Banco Caribe, Banco BDI, Banco López de Haro, Banco Ademi, Banco BELLBANK, Banco Múltiple Activo Dominicana, Banco JMJ, Citibank, Banco Promerica, Banesco, Bancamerica.


When you want to exchange money at a bank, you can check their exchange rate on their website. The rate can vary significantly from one bank to another, but there are no currency conversion fees to be applied.


Recommendation:

In Spanish (or rather in Dominican), it is important not to confuse the word 'banco' (which means bank) and 'banca' which refers to the place where Dominicans go in search of a big win, to play the lottery. There are dozens of lotteries including 'el loto'.


2- At a currency exchange office:

If you want to get the best possible exchange rate, it is advisable to go to a currency exchange office called "casa de cambio". Again, be careful to go to a local currency exchange office where locals also go to change foreign currencies. This means that you should absolutely avoid exchange offices located in airports, hotels, and certain overly touristy areas.


3- Tips:

When you exchange money at a currency exchange office, typically the agent will give you a receipt with the amount (in the currency you are exchanging) multiplied by the exchange rate = what you receive in pesos. Let's say you are exchanging 300 euros, make sure to double-check that the amount given to you in pesos is correct, but also don't forget to verify that the euro amount corresponds to what you have provided.


Why is the dollar a reference currency in the Dominican Republic?


1- The proximity with the United States

Less than a 4-hour flight from New York and less than 2.5 hours from Miami, the Dominican Republic is an ideal destination for North Americans. The most prevalent tourists in the Dominican Republic come from the United States.


2- Close commercial relations with North America

The country that invests the most in the Dominican Republic is the United States, followed by Canada. These strong trade relations create a close relationship between the exchange rate of the US dollar and the Dominican peso. To give you an idea, I will share below a graph showing the fluctuations of the Dominican peso against the US dollar and euro.






In 2 years, the maximum difference in value between the dollar and the Dominican peso has been less than 10%, compared to nearly 25% for the euro. This means that a Dominican who had saved in euros could have seen their capital decrease by over 20% relative to the local currency, compared to just 10% if they had saved in dollars. Therefore, it is risky for a Dominican to save in euros. Even though the euro is widely accepted by merchants, it is usually exchanged into Dominican pesos very quickly.


3- Why are prices displayed in dollars instead of euros or pesos in some places?

As the price of certain products depends heavily on the price of oil, some companies base the price of their goods or services on the dollar. Instead of regularly changing their prices in pesos, these companies choose to express their prices in dollars.


4- The Dollar, a currency known by everyone

Whether it's a South American, North American, European, or Asian tourist, everyone knows the value of a Dollar. Therefore, when a price is displayed in Dollars, everyone can quickly assess its value compared to their usual currency. That's why in shops in large hotels that receive tourists from all over the world, prices are primarily displayed in Dollars. Most of the time, excursions and other activities are also quoted in US Dollars.



Where to withdraw money in the Dominican Republic?


1- At the ATM (cash machine or ATM, depending on which country you are from)

You will find ATMs almost everywhere, except of course in remote rural areas (be sure to withdraw cash before embarking on a trip into the countryside). However, depending on the bank responsible for the ATM, the amount you can withdraw may be very limited. Some ATMs are limited to 2500 pesos, others to 4000 or 10,000 pesos. Only certain Scotiabank ATMs allow you to withdraw up to 20,000 pesos.


2- In a bank

If you wish to withdraw a larger amount, you will need to go directly to the bank counter. By presenting your debit card (with raised embossing) and your passport (physical copy, not a photocopy), you will be able to withdraw a larger sum. This is more advantageous for you even though it requires making an effort to speak and understand some Spanish because each withdrawal from an ATM incurs a percentage fee as well as a fixed fee charged by your bank. The exact amount of the fixed fee depends on your bank, but in any case, it is better to withdraw money as few times as possible.



Can I withdraw Dollars or Euros in the Dominican Republic?

No, when you withdraw money in the Dominican Republic, you will receive Dominican Pesos unless you have a local account in euros or dollars and go to the bank to make a withdrawal.


Paying by credit card in the Dominican Republic

Of course, it is possible to pay by card in all major stores. Supermarkets, shops in shopping malls, hotels, and most restaurants will accept payment by card. However, if you do not have enough cash on hand, it is advisable to check before consuming or making purchases as sometimes even if the merchant announces that they accept credit cards, the terminal may not be functioning. Small shops, gift shops, and bars often accept cash only.

For card payments without exchange fees, or for withdrawals at the best exchange rates and at much lower fees than traditional banks, we highly recommend using Wise. Whether in the Dominican Republic or anywhere else in the world, Wise is an option that will help you make (big) savings. Wise also offers accounts for professionals who need to make transfers abroad, and here again, the rates are just unbeatable.


For businesses, select the "business" option. Start benefiting today from the best rates for your business transfers abroad.

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