If you are traveling to Washington, D.C. from outside the United States, you should consult a currency exchange website such as http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter to check up-to-the-minute exchange rates before your departure.

Anyone who travels to the nation’s capital expecting bargains is in for a rude awakening, especially when it comes to lodging. Less expensive than New York and London, Washington, D.C.’s daily hotel rate nevertheless reflects the city’s popularity as a top destination among U.S. travelers, averaging $242 (according to most recent statistics). D.C.’s restaurant scene is rather more egalitarian: heavy on the fine, top-dollar establishments, where you can easily spend $100 per person, but with plenty of excellent bistros and small restaurants offering great eats at lower prices. When it comes to attractions, though, the nation’s capital has the rest of the world beat, because most of its museums and tourist sites offer free admission.

In Washington, D.C., ATMs are ubiquitous, in locations ranging from the National Gallery of Art’s gift shop to Union Station to grocery stores. Go to your bank-card’s website or call one of your branches to find ATM locations in Washington. Be sure you know your personal identification number (PIN) and daily withdrawal limit before you depart. If your PIN is five or six digits, you should obtain a four-digit PIN from your local bank before you leave home, because four-digit PINs are what most ATMs in Washington accept.

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 to debit cards, credit cards are the most widely used form of payment in the United States: Visa (Barclaycard in Britain), MasterCard (Eurocard in Europe, Access in Britain), American Express, Diners Club, and Discover. 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. 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.

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.