The Peso is the currency of the Dominican Republic
It is separate from pesos from other countries like Mexico. The symbol is the “$” with RD$ used to provide distinction to other pesos or dollars (example: $RD150). There are one hundred cents (centavos) to every peso for which the ¢ symbol is used. The peso is the only legal tender in the DR; however, US dollars are used commonly for transactions, particularly real estate purchases. The first peso used was in 1844 and it was divided into 8 reales! In 1877, it was divided into centavos.
As a security feature designed to prevent counterfeiting, Dominican peso banknotes bear a watermark with the three-dimensional image of Juan Pablo Duarte, both on the front and on the back. Banknotes bear a glossy stripe on the back which has a Golden colour when the note is flat on a surface but disappears when the position of the note is changed. Read more about money and banking in the Dominican Republic:
Value of the Dominican Republic Peso:
Peso bills are printed in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, and 2000. As of today, this is the exchange rate between Dominican Pesos, the US dollar and the Canadian dollar:
|Dominican Peso||US Dollar||Canadian Dollar|
Should you bring Pesos with you or exchange here in the DR? ATM’s?
Generally, you will get a better exchange rate right here in the country. We don’t recommend travelling with a lot of cash – losing it would be really horrible. If you do exchange US or Canadian dollars here in the Dominican Republic, we suggest doing it a local exchange house or at a local bank – this will provide best rates for exchange. Avoid airport or any tourist type exchange – they never give good rates!
Many travellers, or owners who winter here, will simply use their home country bank debit card at a local ATM. It will dispense pesos and your home bank will simply convert the amount back to the equivalent in the local currency of where your account is held. Traveller’s cheques have become a thing of the past. ATM’s are all across the country and will dispense pesos reliably.
Major debit cards are accepted at all Dominican Republic bank machines. Charges can be stiff – $5 per transaction. For higher amounts, many travellers will cash advance a major credit card at a local Dominican Republic bank. You must have your passport with you to prove your identity.
Do you need a Dominican Republic bank account?
If you plan to be in the country for several months per year, it will make life easier to have a Dominican Republic account with accompanying debit card. The system here is similar to North America with online banking and services. In order to open an account, you must have a letter from your bank in your home country. This is generally a standard form letter whereby the bank will supply your name, the types of accounts you hold, how long you have banked there, etc. You must also have someone local to “recommend” you to the DR bank. This is an old style rule that was in place so the bank had someone vouch for the integrity of the new account holder. We do this for our clients.
List of most commonly used Dominican Republic Banks:
- Scotiabank will be well known to Canadians. It is one of the largest banks on the island
- Banco Santa Cruz is used by many expats. It is an excellent bank that caters to foreign residents
- Banco Popular – one of the largest on the island and also very well used by expats
- Banco Leon
- Ban Reservas
Transferring Money to and from the Dominican Republic:
Many expats who winter here in the Dominican Republic will do wire transfers between their home country bank and their DR bank. This is a simple process and can often be done via online banking. Another option is to use a currency exchange house which will move money back and forth for you. For large scale purchases, like property, then money is wired to your lawyer’s trust or escrow account as part of the transaction and contract.
You can apply for a Visa or other credit card through a local Dominican Republic bank – this can be handy to use in country and the cards are quite innovative. You can have a portion of the card be in pesos and the other portion be in US dollars. This is very handy for travelling anywhere.
Cash, Debit or Credit?
Debit cards are used for purchases in places like grocery stores. Larger restaurant chains do take credit and debit cards; however, you will find that many local restaurants here on the north coast do not take credit cards – strictly cash. The reason is they are charged a large tax if they accept a credit card, making it better for them financilally to simple handle cash transactions. Some are also small mom and pop establishments without the capacity to handle credit cards.
As in any country, it’s important not to carry large amounts of cash on your person. The risk of simply losing it is always prevalent, but there is also the risk of theft. The DR is a large tourist area and tourists are often easy prey for would be bandits. Tourists tend to let down their guards, carry large amounts of cash, and forget all the money safety skills they utilize in their home countries. We suggest using the same common sense here as you would anywhere else: if something looks suspicious trust your instincts, be mindful of your surroundings, protect your wallet and purse by not leaving it unattended, etc.
You will notice that all banks have armed guards. This is common in the DR and while it can be disconcerting at first, it is normal in many countries.