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Is it worth bringing dollars, pesos or reais?

When planning a trip to the Caribbean, doubts about money often arise. a lot of people ask us what is the currency in Punta Cana and which one should you take. In a quick answer: take dollars for the entire Caribbean region.

The same goes for a trip to Cancun, Aruba, Barbados and other famous destinations in the region. As we will talk below, in addition to the US dollar being accepted in tourist areas easily, it is difficult to find local currencies in Brazil, not to mention that the quotes are bad.

What is the currency in Punta Cana?

The official currency of the Dominican Republic is the dominican peso. But whether on a trip to Punta Cana or even if you decide to visit the tourist attractions of Santo Domingo, the country’s capital, you will hardly see any local currency.

Dominican peso banknotes (Banco Central Rep. Dominicana)

It happens that in all tourist regions, both in the beach areas of the resorts, in shopping malls and in the main tours, the dollar is the most used currency. And this is good for the visitor, who will hardly have to exchange currency in the country if he takes dollars.

Still have doubts? Understand then why the dollar is the best currency in Punta Cana to have with you.

See too
Resorts with discounts
Where is Punta Cana?

Should I bring dollars, reais or Dominican pesos?

As virtually all resorts operate on an all-inclusive system, you won’t need to incur many other expenses besides tours, tips or any purchases. Anyway, inside the hotels everything is priced in dollars, from the casino to extra services, from shops to tours.

We stayed at the Barceló Bávaro Palace and loved the hotel experience. But since everything was included, we ended up using cash only for the casino, tips and some souvenirs.

Beach chairs at the Barceló Bávaro Palace resort
Barceló Bávaro Palace (Photo: This World Is Ours)

If you decide to buy a tour with tour agencies outside the resort, the prices will also be in dollars and these payments can even be made by credit card. Even taxi drivers have prices listed in US currency.

That is, even if you spend outside your hotel, it is very likely that you will not need Dominican pesos.

Although some large supermarkets or gas stations use prices in pesos, for example, you can usually pay in dollars or negotiate. Just always check the quote practiced by the establishments to see if it pays to pay in cash or if it’s better to use a credit card.

What if I take reais to Punta Cana?

Our currency is not normally accepted even at exchange offices in the Dominican Republic. Unless you find a Brazilian agency, it can be very difficult to use reais in Punta Cana. Because of this, avoid relying on that luck.

Is it worth buying Dominican pesos in Brazil?

Although this is the currency in Punta Cana and it is also easily accepted there, along with the dollar, you you will hardly find Dominican pesos in exchange offices in Brazil. Even if you do, the quote will definitely not be good.

Only strong currencies are usually worth it in Brazilian exchange houses, such as the dollar, euro or pound, for example. Lesser-known currencies, such as the Dominican peso, usually have very unfavorable quotes for the customer.

Dominican Peso quotation

As of May 2021, the Dominican peso exchange rate is as follows:

  • US$ 1 = RD$ 56.98
  • BRL 1 = RD$ 10.71

These values ​​are for reference if you decide, although it is not advantageous, to take Dominican pesos from Brazil. To see the current price, it is worth checking conversion sites like XE.

Where to exchange currency in Punta Cana

If you bring dollars to use as currency in Punta Cana, but realize that you will need some Dominican pesos, an alternative may be to exchange currency. But as we show below, there is still the possibility to withdraw or even use the credit card.

As in most countries, currency exchange at the airport is not highly recommended, as the fees are usually not advantageous. If necessary, after immigration to the Dominican Republic, change only what is necessary.

Better than exchange offices, the ideal is to look for a bank to exchange dollars for pesos. They use the official quote from the country’s Central Bank. Exchange offices may have additional fees.

Chairs and person in the sea of ​​Playa Bávaro in Punta Cana
Playa Bávaro (Photo: This World Is Ours)

Withdrawals from ATMs

ATMs in Punta Cana are easily found in airports, supermarkets, malls and even some resorts. It is possible to withdraw Dominican pesos and, in some of them, dollars or euros.

Be aware if you want to make withdrawals abroad:

  • Notify your bank to release this function on your checking account card;
  • Pay attention to the additional fees charged by your bank and also by the institution that owns the ATM;
  • You will still pay 6.38% IOF on the withdrawal amount.

It is possible to withdraw Dominican pesos at several banks in the country, such as Banco Popular, BHD León, Banco Progreso and Scotiabank. Here the ATMs are called cajeros (in Spanish). In fact, it is also worth keeping an eye out for basic security issues as in Brazil, among them preferring to make withdrawals in closed places and during the day.

Credit card purchases

An international credit card is always recommended when traveling abroad. Even if you don’t intend to use it, it guarantees security for any unplanned expenses, even for a trip or purchase that comes up at the last minute.

As with ATM withdrawals, there is an IOF charge of 6.38% and the purchase price will depend on the bank that issued your card. To give you an idea, the IOF when you buy coins in cash in Brazil directly at an exchange house is much lower, at 1.1%.

Incidentally, the credit card is accepted in Punta Cana both in resorts and in most restaurants, shops, markets and tourist agencies.

See too
When to go to Punta Cana
travel insurance for covid

Tip in Punta Cana

One thing you’ll notice at your resort, even if it’s all-inclusive, is that mostly Americans tend to tip even when drinks are already included. We Brazilians are not used to it, but it is quite common for them to give at least US$ 1 per order.

Coin in Punta Cana: Glass of sparkling wine in front of the resort pool
Photo: This World Is Ours

As the dollar exchange rate is high for us, don’t feel so bad or pressured. What happens, especially in the preparation of drinks, is that the employees of the resorts tend to be more careful with the drinks and even use better brands for those who tip.

What you can do is choose a bartender and tip them over the course of your stay to earn his friendship. But it is not mandatory.

By the way, another way to thank an employee for the service that was attentive throughout your stay is to tip a little higher on the last day. He will be grateful. As for maids, there are those who leave a tip every time they replenish the drinks in the apartment or tidy up the room. But again: it’s not mandatory.

As this is not a custom among Brazilians, you will find the best way to tip in Punta Cana according to your budget. Try carrying a few $1 bills to facilitate these gratuities.

In restaurants and bars outside hotels, the 10% service charge is usually included in the bill, as is the case in Brazil. But around here it is still common to leave an additional 10% as a way of thanking the attendant for the service.

As in many destinations, the famous tips (or tuition fees around here) are also a way of thanking the guides on tours. Feel free to give any amount you think is valid! In taxi rides, it’s not common to tip, unless you want to.

How many dollars to take to Punta Cana?

As your hotel here is probably all-inclusive, you’ll only end up using money for tours, extra purchases, the casino and also for tips. So it’s hard to do that calculation.

The ideal is to research prices of the desired tours, calculate an amount per night at the resort’s casino, if you like, and take a few extra dollars for tips and some purchases or souvenirs. But it is worth mentioning that dollar is the best currency in Punta Cana.

Bar with chairs on Playa Bávaro: dollar is the best currency in Punta Cana
Photo: This World Is Ours

By the way, it is possible to search for prices of the main tours, such as to Isla Saona, through the Get Your Guide website and even book them before the trip. It’s worth checking out to plan your budget during the trip.

To give you an idea, we spent seven days at the Barceló Bávaro Palace and, as we didn’t want to take tours to enjoy the resort, we only took about US$ 20 dollars a day, to use in the casino and also with tips.

See more: All destination tips

Hope I helped, but if you still have questions, leave your comment and I’ll answer with pleasure!

Rafael Carvalho

A fan of chicken with okra and a good beer from Minas Gerais, he currently lives in São Paulo. He has a degree in Radio and TV, a postgraduate degree in Journalism and has been working with Digital Content for over 16 years. He has worked for companies such as SBT and Jovem Pan FM. Passionate about travel, he founded Esse Mundo É Nosso and travels around Brazil and the world all year round, always looking for tips to share.

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