Money in Belize
The Belize dollar (BZD) is the official currency in Belize.The official value is pegged at 2 BZ$ = 1 US$. While both currencies are accepted countrywide, some smaller locales may only accept BZD. Prices tend to default to USD and change is given in either currency. This article will default to BZD prices from here on.
Banks and ATMs
ATMs accept Visa, MasterCard, Plus and Cirrus, only hold BZD and may carry usage charges and withdrawal caps (commonly $1000). Banks affiliated with the Global ATM Alliance do not charge fees for withdrawing cash from other Allegiance banks like Bank of America, Barclay’s and Scotiabank. Belize’s major banks are Bank of Nova Scotia, Atlantic Bank and Belize Bank. Common business hours are Mondays to Fridays from 8AM to 3PM. Some banks open on Saturdays from 8AM to 12 Noon and on Sunday’s all banks are closed.
Most banks will exchange currency into BZD. Most of the banks that handle currency exchange are found within the main plaza of cities and towns but you may also consider a “casa de cambio” (an exchange house) . Always keep your receipt upon exchanging currency.
Debit cards are useless but major credit cards are viable. Most places take Visa and MasterCard and some will take American Express. Some places apply a 2-5% surcharge for credit cards. You can use a credit card for gaining a cash advance with major banks but this draws extra charges. Always inform your credit card company and bank when planning an international trip, if only to allay concerns over any suspicious transactions.
While you should have no difficulty exchanging any of your traveler’s checks with most major banks, you can help improve their acceptance by having them come from a reputable brand like Visa and American Express or having the amount written out in USD. Be mindful that you will likely incur per-check fees when you go to cash a traveler’s check; it is not like the first time is the only time you will be charged. While you should have no trouble in getting your hotel to accept your traveler’s checks, as hotels frequently accept international travelers, rare is the restaurant that will allow you to pay for your meals with a traveler’s check.
Most places charge a 10-15% service charge. Even without this automatic inclusion, it is good manners to tip this much, even to taxi drivers and tour guides. All purchases incur a general sales tax of 12.5%. Hotels add 9% to room prices. Leaving the airport entails a $35 BZD departure tax, often calculated into flight costs.
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