Wondering whether you can use U.S. dollars in Belize?
If you are traveling to Belize from the US, you will love that you can pay with US dollars in many places.
Belize is a popular destination for American tourists and is the only country in Central America where English is the official language. But it’s not just Americans who flock to Belize: travelers from all over the world come to this country to dive in the Great Meso-American Barrier Reef, climb Mayan ruins, and discover some of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean.
In this article, I will explain how you can pay with US dollars in Belize, and what other forms of payment you can use in the country.
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What’s the official currency of Belize?
The official currency of Belize is the Belize Dollar (BZD). The exchange rate is two Belize dollars to one US dollar, and you can easily exchange US dollars in Belize whether you are in Belize City, Ambergris Caye, or San Ignacio.
Belize dollars come in $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 paper bills and coins are 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents.
Who’s on the Belize dollar?
Interestingly, the money in Belize has Queen Elizabeth on them. Belize previously belonged to England and was known as British Honduras. Belize received its independence in September 1981 and became part of the Commonwealth with the British monarch being the head of the state.
Can I use US dollars to pay in Belize?
Yes, you can pay with US dollars in Belize. Carry smaller bills for taxis, stores, and restaurants to pay your tab and leave a gratuity. While US paper bills are accepted throughout the country, the coins are not so much, so leave them at home.
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Do I need to exchange US dollars in Belize?
No, you don’t need to exchange US dollars in Belize. Many restaurants, tour operators, and hotels in Belize accept US dollars. Keep in mind though that even if you pay with US dollar bills, you will most likely receive the change in Belize dollars or a mix of both currencies.
For example, if you pay $4 Belize dollars for a drink, you can do it with 2 Belizean dollars and 1 US dollar. Most prices in Belize are listed in Belizean dollars and NOT in US dollars. The currency is posted very clearly most of the time, but if you are in doubt, always ask.
What denominations do I need to carry in Belize?
Carry smaller bills, as not every business or vendor might have changed when you give them a bigger bill. Smaller bills are the best form of payment in local markets, small boutique stores, shops, and restaurants. If you have larger bills, supermarkets or popular tourist bars and restaurants might be able to help to break them up.
Also, make sure that your bills are in good condition, as not everyone in Belize will accept old or torn money, even if it’s US dollars. Sometimes, even a small tear or mark might get you rejected. And there’s nothing worse than being down to your last 10 dollars without any other form of payment.
Using ATMs in Belize
You can find ATMs throughout Belize in Ambergris Caye, Belize City, San Ignacio, Placencia, Hopkins, Dangriga, and other major towns throughout the country. ATMs in Belize dispense only Belize dollars and not US dollars and often have a limit on how much cash you can withdraw per transaction.
Many ATMs in Belize have a limit per transaction (500-800 Belize Dollars), and some ATM’s in Belize also charge higher commission fees than others. Always carry some US dollars when in Belize, so you are not stuck without money, in case the ATM you are trying to use doesn’t work.
What to know about using ATMs in Belize
When you are getting money out of an ATM in Belize, you will most likely get charged two fees, one from a local bank and one from your bank for international transactions.
What are the major banks in Belize?
The major banks in Belize are Belize Bank, Atlantic Bank, and Scotia Bank. They all have ATMs, but you can also sometimes find ATMs in hotels, supermarkets, and convenience stores throughout Belize.
Can I pay with cash in Belize?
Yes, you can pay with cash in Belize most of the time. When you pay with cash in Belize, you might get a change in US dollars and Belize dollars, so always check if you got the right amount.
GOOD TO KNOW: I have read reports of some travelers who paid US dollars only to realize later that the price was listed in Belizean dollars. Depending on who you come across, you might not always be reminded of that, when paying for things in Belize. The best thing is to always ask to double-check how much you need to pay.
If you are going to pay for something with a mix of US dollars and Belize dollars, use the calculator to check if you were charged the correct amount.
Paying with credit cards in Belize
While credit cards are accepted in most popular destinations in Belize, small towns in Belize run on cash. For example, if you are driving from Belize City to Placencia, and want to grab a side road snack from one of the local vendors, you will need to pay in cash.
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Always use your credit cards when you have a chance and spare your cash because you never know when you might need it. And be sure to carry more than one credit card when traveling around Belize, so if one card doesn’t work for some reason, you can always use the other.
What forms of payment are accepted in Belize?
Unlike the US, Belize is a cash society. Belize dollars is the official currency of the country that you can use everywhere. Make sure to carry plenty of small bills, as it makes it easier to pay for things.
US dollars are accepted in most places in Belize, but you need to make sure that your money is in prime condition without any marks, creases, or tears, or you might get rejected. Always carry smaller bills with you, as it makes it easier to pay for things since the US dollar is pegged 1:2 to Belize dollars.
Should I bring U.S. dollars to Belize?
Yes, you should bring US dollars to Belize. US dollars are accepted in most places in Belize, and when you have US dollars, you won’t have to look for places to exchange them in Belize.
You can pay with credit cards in restaurants/bars, tour offices, and hotels at major tourist destinations in Belize. Even if you plan on paying with a credit card, carry some cash so you can leave tips for servers, hotel staff, and tour guides. While MasterCard and Visa are generally accepted, Discover and AmericanExpress are not.
Debit cards are accepted in some places, but you should always use them as a backup option, as not every tour operator or restaurant in Belize will allow you to pay with a debit card.
Are traveler’s checks accepted in Belize?
Don’t bring your travelers’ checks to Belize because they are rarely accepted. I’ve spent nearly a month in Belize and never saw any businesses accept travelers’ checks.
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Traveler’s checks take six weeks to clear, so small businesses such as taxis, restaurants, or hotels in rural areas would be giving you a six-week loan by accepting them; consequently, few of them do. Getting cash is also difficult for our staff, so we cannot cash them for you;
Standard U.S. checks are also not accepted in Belize.
Is it better to use cash or a credit card in Belize?
You can use both cash and credit cards in Belize. Use your credit cards when you can and spare your cash because you never know when you might need it, especially in rural parts of Belize, where credit cards are not always accepted. Carry more than one credit card when traveling around Belize, so if one card doesn’t work for some reason, you can always use the other.
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What is the best currency to use in Belize?
The best currency to use in Belize is Belize dollars, but you can also use US dollars in many places.
Do they accept US dollars in Belize: FAQ
Can I use Canadian dollars or Euros in Belize?
Canadian dollars and Euros are not accepted in Belize, and your best bet is to exchange them for US dollars before coming to the country. You can also exchange Canadian dollars or Euros at the Belize City Airport and some resorts in places like Ambergris Caye or Placencia, but you are most likely not going to get the best exchange rate.
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You can also exchange Canadian dollars, U.K. pounds, and Mexican Pesos at major banks in Belize, but the exchange rate is not going to be the best. To avoid losing money, exchange some US dollars before your trip to Belize.
Can I use my US debit card in Belize?
Debit cards are not always accepted in Belize, so you shouldn’t rely on them as your primary form of payment. While you can use debit cards to withdraw money at ATMs around Belize, you should use either cash or credit cards for payments.
Should you tip in Belize?
You should leave between 15-20 percent of your bill in tips if you got good service, and about 10 percent if you think the service could have been better. Cash is the best form of tipping for servers, drivers, hotel staff, and tour operators.
How much is $20 US in Belize?
$20 US dollars equals 40 Belize dollars
Can you use credit cards in Belize?
Yes, you can pay with credit cards in restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, tour vendors, and some stores in Belize. While you can use credit cards in major tourism destinations like Ambergris Caye, San Ignacio, and Placencia, small villages and rural areas run entirely on cash.
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How much is $1 in Belize?
$1 US dollar equals 2 Belize dollars
Should I bring US dollars to Belize?
Yes, you should bring US dollars to Belize. US dollars are commonly accepted in Belize, and you can use them to pay about anywhere in the country.
Tips for paying in Belize:
- Use up all your Belize dollars until the end of your trip – Belize dollars are not accepted anywhere else outside Belize, and you will not be able to use them in Mexico, Guatemala, or anywhere else in the region.
- Bring small bills – When paying for things in Belize, it’s best to use smaller bills.
- ATM’s in Belize don’t always work – It’s not uncommon for Belize ATMs to be out of order, and even those working may run out of cash. Make sure to bring some US dollars with you when arriving in Belize.
- Don’t store all your money in the same place – I recommend carrying only one credit card with you and leaving the rest in a safe box in your hotel. Avoid carrying all your money and credit cards in your wallet, because if you lose it or its stolen, you will be without money.
How much cash should I bring to Belize?
The amount of cash you will need for your trip to Belize depends on your travel style, the number of days, and how many people you are in your group. As a rule, always carry a few hundred Belizean dollars with you.
Can I use US dollars in Belize: Final word
If you are traveling to Belize from the United States, you will have no problem paying with US dollars in most places in Belize. You can use US dollars in restaurants, stores and on guided tours, just make sure to always calculate the right amount correctly, since prices in Belize are often listed in Belize Dollars.