International travel means a ton of preparation, but there is one you can cross off your list before you go to the Bahamas: trade your currency.
This is because the Bahamas uses the Bahamian dollar. This currency has been pegged to the US dollar 1:1 since 1966. As a result, you can spend either Bahamian dollars or US dollars during your trip.
The Currency They Use in the Bahamas
The Bahamian dollar has been pegged to the US dollar since it was first issued. Pegging means that one currency is set to always be equal to another.
So, even when the value of the US dollar varies in relation to other currencies, the Bahamian dollar stays stably linked with it. The reason comes down to the trade relationship between the US and the Bahamas. The US is the country’s largest trade partner.
In the Bahamas, the largest industry is tourism, accounting for about half of the country’s economy. Eighty percent of those tourists are from the US.
There is very little manufacturing and agriculture in the Bahamas. Instead, they have an import economy, with most of their goods coming from the US.
Pegging our currencies to one another is a lot more convenient. Visitors are able to easily gauge the price of hotels, meals, and other aspects of a trip. And, businesses in the Bahamas are able to predict the cost of items imported into the country.
History of Currency in the Bahamas
Back in the era of European exploration, the Bahamas used Spanish reales. These coins were popular throughout the world because of their milled edges and easy division.
The milling meant that dishonest traders couldn’t scrape bits of silver off the edges to lighten the coins. The segments meant you could break up these “pieces of eight” to make a change.
The Bahamas became a British colony in 1718 when Britain was clamping down on piracy in the New World. In 1825, Britain passed a law making the Pounds Sterling the official currency of all their colonies and the Bahamian Pound was born.
As the UK began transitioning its colonies to commonwealths in the mid-twentieth century, the Bahamian Dollar was introduced.
At first, the exchange rate was one Bahamian Dollar to seven shillings (each shilling is 1/20) of a pound. The goal was to begin pegging the Bahamian dollar to the US dollar, and that was the exchange rate between British Pounds Sterling and US dollars at the time.
By the time the Bahamas became politically independent in 1973, the new currency was firmly entrenched.
Denominations of Bahamian Currency
The Bahamas prints dollars in denominations that include 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollar bills. They have coins varying in value from one cent to one dollar.
The paper currency depicts famous scenes from Bahamian history and the figures who shaped it. You’ll also find special edition banknotes depicting things like the royal poinciana flower, the Paradise Island Bridge and blue marlins.
The International Currency Is Plastic
More and more destinations worldwide are going cashless, and the Bahamas are no exception. Bring your credit and debit cards and be prepared to pull those out most places.
MasterCard and Visa should be your go-tos. American Express and Discover are not accepted at many spots. Some banks charge foreign transaction fees. Compare your debit and credit cards to see which provides the best deal.
Be sure to check with your bank before you go. Some want you to alert them to international travel before you leave. Others say this is no longer necessary.
Just make sure you find your bank’s specific policy. Sitting on the beach and learning you have no way to pay for your Sky Juice because your card is frozen is no fun.
Exchanging Bahamian Dollars at the End of Your Trip
While merchants in the Bahamas accept US currency without a second thought, it doesn’t work the other way around. Keep a few coins and bills as souvenirs, but otherwise, try to get rid of Bahamian dollars before you head back to the US.
Bahamian dollars are not officially accepted as currency in any other nation. However, a few travelers have reported that other Caribbean countries, such as Turks and Caicos, will accept Bahamian dollars.
The fact that the currency is equal to US dollars makes it easier to exchange throughout the region.
One tip many travelers have shared: spend your Bahamian dollars at the airport on your way out of the country. The airports typically have US dollars they can give you as change. This way, you can exchange your currency without hassle or fees.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Currency of the Bahamas
International travel always involves a few questions. These are answers to common ones:
Can I use US dollars in the Bahamas?
You will find plenty of places that take USD. This is because the Bahamian dollar is pegged to USD.
More and more places are going cashless, though, so be sure you have a credit or debit card to use. You’ll probably pull this out more often than you do cash.
How much is $100 US in Bahamas?
The Bahamian dollar is pegged to the US dollar. Because of this, $100 in the US is $100 in the Bahamas.
That said, Bahamian prices tend to be a little higher, so your $100 bill might not go as far.
Is US currency the same in the Bahamas?
The Bahamas has pegged their currency to the US dollar, so the exchange rate stays stable.
You’ll still typically get Bahamian currency as change when you are in the country.
Can you use American currency in Nassau Bahamas?
You will find most places will take USD. Your change will typically be in Bahamian dollars, though.
Book Your Bahamas Trip Today!
The official currency of the Bahamas is the Bahamian dollar. But, don’t be too worried about exchanging your cash before you go. Their dollar is pegged to ours, so you can pretty much use either B$ or USD while you’re there.