advertisement

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/currency/converter to check up-to-the-minute rates.

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), American Express, Diners Club, and 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).

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 (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 Washington.

In Washington, 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.

Beware of hidden credit-card fees while traveling. Check with your credit or debit card issuer to see what fees, if any, will be charged for overseas transactions. Recent reform legislation in the U.S., for example, has curbed some exploitative lending practices. But many banks have responded by increasing fees in other areas, including fees for customers who use credit and debit cards while out of the country -- even if those charges were made in U.S. dollars. Fees can amount to 3% or more of the purchase price. Check with your bank before departing to avoid any surprise charges on your statement.

For help with currency conversions, tip calculations, and more, download Frommer's convenient Travel Tools app for your mobile device. Go to www.frommers.com/go/mobile and click on the Travel Tools icon.

What will a vacation in Seattle cost? Not as much as a vacation in London, New York, or San Francisco, but if you visit in summer, be prepared to spend $250 or more for an average hotel room. About the cheapest you can get a decent room in summer is around $150, but that won't be downtown. Visit during the rainy season and room rates will be half that. For meals, expect to pay $10 to $15 for breakfast, $15 to $25 for lunch, and $40 to $60 for dinner. Of course, you can eat for much less than this, but at these prices you'll be getting some of the city's more memorable dining experiences.

What Things Cost in Seattle $

Taxi from the airport to downtown Seattle 35.00

Double room, moderate 150.00-250.00

Double room, inexpensive 90.00-150.00

Three-course dinner for one without wine, moderate 30.00-40.00

Pint of beer 4.00-5.00

Cup of coffee 1.50-2.00

Latte 2.50-3.50

1 gallon/1 liter of premium gas 4.00/1.05

Admission to most museums 14.00-18.00

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.