Frommer's lists exact prices in the local currency. However, rates fluctuate, so before departing consult a currency exchange website such as www.oanda.com/convert/classic to check up-to-the-minute rates.
The most common U.S. bills are the $1 (a "buck"), $5, $10, and $20 denominations. There are also $2 bills (seldom encountered), $50 bills, and $100 bills (the last two are usually not welcome as payment for small purchases).
Coins come in seven denominations: 1¢ (1 cent, or a penny); 5¢ (5 cents, or a nickel); 10¢ (10 cents, or a dime); 25¢ (25 cents, or a quarter); 50¢ (50 cents, or a half dollar); the gold-colored Sacagawea and presidential coins, worth $1; and the rare silver dollar.
Oregon is not yet a major international tourist destination, and while it is possible to spend $400 or more per night for a room, there are only a handful of places in the state where this is possible. For the most part, the state's top hotels have summer (high-season) room rates of around $200 or less. Compared to most major cities, downtown Portland hotels are real bargains. Even the mountain lodges, beach hotels, and golf resorts of central Oregon tend to be bargains.
Likewise, restaurants tend to be very reasonably priced. Sure, there are restaurants in Portland, Bend, and Ashland where you can spend $60 or more on dinner (not including alcohol), but such restaurants tend to be the exception. Restaurants on the Oregon coast all seem to be a bit overpriced for what you get, but what beach restaurants don't charge more than they should? Want a smokin' deal on dining out? At most of the highly acclaimed food carts of Portland, a lunch worthy of mention in national publications will run you little more than $6 or $7.
Nationwide, the easiest and best way to get cash away from home is from an ATM (automated teller machine), sometimes referred to as a "cash machine" or "cashpoint." The Cirrus (tel. 800/424-7787; www.mastercard.com) and PLUS (tel. 800/843-7587; www.visa.com) networks span the country; you can find them even in remote regions. Go to your bank card's website to find ATM locations at your destination. Be sure you know your daily withdrawal limit before you depart. Four-digit PINs work fine in Oregon.
Note: Many banks impose a fee every time you use a card at another bank's ATM, and that fee is often higher for international transactions (up to $5 or more) than for domestic ones (where they're rarely more than $2). In addition, the bank from which you withdraw cash may charge its own fee. Visitors from outside the U.S. should also find out whether their bank assesses a fee on charges incurred abroad.
In Oregon you'll find ATMs at banks in even the smallest towns. You can also usually find them at gas station minimarts, although these machines usually charge a slightly higher fee than banks. You can sometimes avoid a fee by searching out a small community bank, a savings and loan, or a credit union ATM. To avoid fees, you can also go into a grocery store, make a purchase, and ask for cash back on your debit card.
Credit Cards & Debit Cards
Credit cards are the most widely used form of payment in the U.S. It's highly recommended that you travel with at least one major credit card; options include Visa (Barclaycard in Britain), MasterCard (Eurocard in Europe, Access in Britain, Chargex in Canada), American Express, Diners Club, or Discover. MasterCard and Visa are the two most commonly accepted credit cards. You must have a credit card to rent a car, and hotels and airlines usually require a credit card imprint as a deposit against expenses.
You can withdraw cash advances from your credit cards at banks or ATMs, but high fees make credit card cash advances a pricey way to get cash. Keep in mind that you'll pay interest from the moment of your withdrawal, even if you pay your monthly bills on time. Also, note that many banks now assess a 1% to 3% "transaction fee" on all charges you incur abroad (whether you're using the local currency or your native currency).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.