With 70% of the Bahamas' population living there, Nassau is the country's largest city.
From education to business centers, you’ll find all administrational operations going on in the area since it’s also the capital.
That’s not the reason Nassau is so popular among tourists, though; there is more to it.
It's the beaches and breathtaking sights that make it a top-rated tourist town.
If you're an American tourist, you may have a common question when you plan to go to the city, and that is "Can I use US dollars in Nassau Bahamas?"
If you’re planning a trip there soon, keep reading to find out about the currency and safety tips for you to have a wonderful time.
What Is the Currency of the Bahamas?
The official currency used in the Bahamas is called the Bahamian dollar or BSD.
It was initiated in 1966, and the currency was a shift from the British pound after the country got independence.
Lucky for tourists from the USA, the Bahamian dollars have the same value as the US dollars, making it easy to use them interchangeably.
Thus, you can use US dollars in the Bahamas since they're practically the same as the Bahamian dollars.
Even though the conversion rate is pretty much the same, it’s useful to know about the denominations of the currency used in the Bahamas.
You can find the bills for half, $3, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100.
However, the smaller and bigger notes, such as $3, half dollar, and $100, aren't commonly used anymore.
Still, you won’t have much trouble getting accustomed to the currency since it’s similar to the US dollar in size.
As for the appearance, the bills are brown, green, and mint, depending on the denomination.
You’d see some popular political figures of the Bahamas on the currency notes.
You'll also spot Queen Elizabeth II on the currency because the Bahamas was previously a British crown colony.
Moreover, the Bahamian coins are found in the following denominations: 1, 5, 10, 15, 25, and 50 cents. The bigger coins are one dollar and two dollars.
The coins feature culturally-important recognition symbols on one side and the country’s coat of arms on the other side.
Can I Use Us Dollars in Nassau Bahamas?
As we've mentioned earlier, US and Bahamian dollars are equal in value.
To answer the question, "Can I use US dollars in Nassau Bahamas?", well, yes, you can.
The exchange ratio is fixed at 1:1, so it doesn’t matter which currency you use. Besides, US dollars are widely accepted in the Bahamas.
Keep in mind that whether you pay in Bahamian or US dollars, you’ll receive your change in the same currency.
Shopkeepers or vendors won’t exchange the currency even if they’re the same value.
If you want to use Bahamian dollars to experience the tourist vibe, make sure to get the currency exchanged at the airport.
Also, when you’re leaving, exchange the Bahamian dollars to the US dollars. Once you return to the US, it would be tough to get an exchange.
Which Currency Is Better to Use?
Now that we’ve answered your major question, it’s time to discuss the best currency to use while in Nassau.
Even though you can convert to Bahamian dollars, it's better to stick to the US bucks.
You already know how the currency notes look and have a habit of using them.
No one wants to be annoyed on vacation by figuring out how the currency notes of a new country look.
Most importantly, you’ll save plenty of exchange costs when using US dollars. Why pay for the exchange rate when you can use the money you already have?
Besides, most vendors are happy to take payments in US dollars.
If you’re lucky, you may even scrape a better deal at the local island or shop paying in US bucks.
What About if You're a Non-USA Tourist?
If you’re not from the USA, you can use either of the two currencies.
Plus, you can use your credit card since most resorts accept payments through a card or traveler’s checks.
Still, have some cash if you’re planning to spend a lot of time exploring the city's blue waters.
Smaller businesses on the islands won’t take credit cards, so you must have at least a $100.
Also, keep some cash with you for tipping even when you’re paying the actual amount with a credit card.
The local population works very hard to make the country comfortable for tourists, and its economy largely depends on tourism.
So, tip generously and spend money on smaller businesses, such as the eateries and local craft shops.
How Do You Exchange Money in the Bahamas?
You have two options when it comes to exchanging money.
First, you can easily find an exchange window at the airport and convert your currency to the Bahamian dollars.
Of course, you'll have to pay the exchange rates, but it's the best option if you want to be fully prepared before checking into a hotel.
Second, you can visit a local bank. They have better rates, but you'll have to find your way around.
Make sure you have enough US or Bahamian dollars to pay the cab driver for the bank trip.
A trip from the airport to the bank could cost you anywhere around $30.
If there are more than two passengers, the fare will be higher, and it's the same with extra luggage.
The banking hours are from 9:30 AM to 3 PM, from Mondays to Thursdays, and from 9:30 AM to 5 PM on Fridays.
You must consider all these things before selecting an exchange method.
Automated Teller Machines
If you're not fully prepared and would instead roll with the flow, you can get a currency exchange any time you need it.
Simply walk into an ATM, put in your card, and voila. Plus, you can find ATMs in major squares of the city, hotels, casinos, and outside big banks.
With the ATMs dispensing money in the local currency, you won’t have to walk into a bank or pay high exchange rates at a retailer.
Just make sure you get in touch with your local bank before visiting the Bahamas and get information about using the card abroad.
It’s important to remember that most debit cards have limits on use in a foreign country.
Get all the details from your bank before leaving your home country to avoid any disappointment later.
You can always use your credit card, but some places might not take a chip-less card to prevent fraud.
How to Use Your Money in the Bahamas
When you’re in a foreign land, it’s important to have money in multiple forms.
Even if you plan to pay using your credit card, make sure to have cash in your pocket, especially when going to local markets.
You’ll need this money to tip people and pay at smaller places that don’t accept credit cards.
Since it’s a tourist town, Nassau could be more expensive than your home country, depending on where you’re from.
If you're planning to visit Nassau's casinos, have some US dollars with you.
While some casinos prefer taking the US dollar, others will straight up refuse to accept Bahamian dollars.
Lastly, as unpleasant as it sounds, theft and petty crime are common in Nassau, so be vigilant about your money.
When heading out, make sure that the money is in a safe spot.
You can either take a bag with you or keep the currency in a fanny pack.
Don't have your wallet sticking out from your jeans' back pocket; it probably won't be there when it’s time to pay for a drink or tip someone.
Also, make sure that your hotel room has a safe or vault. Keep your money there when leaving the hotel.
Most hotels have a password or code-protected vaults in each room, so your money will be safe.
Lastly, when you go out, keep your phone and jewelry well-hidden as snatch-and-grab crimes are common in the city.
Being a Wise Tourist in Nassau, Bahamas
With beautiful beaches to walk along and the Straw Market to get all your souvenirs from, Nassau has a lot to offer.
Be very wise about the money as the prices can be quite high for accommodation and food.
The local currency has the same value as the US dollars, so you can use the US dollar to pay for anything from your drink to the cab ride.
Hopefully, this guide has given you an idea of what to expect in the Bahamas, the best currency to use, different exchange methods, and how to keep your money safe.