The U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands both use the U.S. dollar as the form of currency. 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.
Banks on the islands are your only option if you need to exchange currency. These rates can be expensive, and additional charges are often tacked on; it is best to change money before you arrive.
There seems to be no shortage of ATMs in the Virgin Islands, all of which dispense U.S. dollars. They are everywhere -- on the downtown streets of Charlotte Amalie, within the large resorts, and in shopping arcades -- making it easy to get quick cash. ATMs are most prevalent in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas, and in Christiansted on St. Croix. They are also available in Cruz Bay on St. John, and in the British Virgin Islands on Tortola and Virgin Gorda. The other islands do not have ATMs, so if you're planning a visit, be sure to visit an ATM to get some cash first. Each machine charges around $2 to $3 for a transaction fee. Nearly all of the machines are operated by three banks: Scotiabank (www.scotiabank.com), FirstBank (www.firstbankvi.com), and Banco Popular (www.bancopopular.com/vi).
Many establishments in the Virgin Islands, including most of those recommended in this guide, accept credit cards. MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted on all the islands that cater to visitors, especially Virgin Gorda, Tortola, St. John, St. Croix, and, of course, St. Thomas. In the past few years, there has been a tendency to drop American Express because of the high percentage it takes from transactions with shopkeepers.
However, visitors should not rely solely on credit cards, as many establishments in the Virgin Islands accept only cash. Often, villas and condos or small inns will only accept cash or personal checks in advance. You will also want to arm yourself with cash while browsing the small boutiques and curio shops throughout the islands, as most do not take credit cards.
Beware of hidden credit card fees while traveling. Check with your credit or debit card issuer to see what fees, if any, will be charged for overseas transactions. Recent reform legislation in the U.S., for example, has curbed some exploitative lending practices. But many banks have responded by increasing fees in other areas, including fees for customers who use credit and debit cards while out of the country -- even if those charges were made in U.S. dollars. Fees can amount to 3% or more of the purchase price. Check with your bank before departing to avoid any surprise charges on your statement.
For help with currency conversions, tip calculations, and more, download Frommer's convenient Travel Tools app for your mobile device. Go to www.frommers.com/go/mobile and click on the "Travel Tools To Go" icon.
What Things Cost in St. Thomas (US$)
Taxi from airport to Charlotte Amalie $15.00
Double room, moderate $140.00
Double room, inexpensive $100.00
Three course dinner for one, no wine, moderate $24.00
Cup of coffee in a cafe $2.75
Bottle of beer $3.50
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.