The Dominican Republic uses the Dominican peso (RD$). Each peso is divided into 100 centavos. You’ll find that pesos come in denominations of $20, $50, $100, $200, $500, $1,000, $2,000 notes, while centavos exist in the form of $1, $5, $10, $25 coins.
The peso is the country's only official currency, though US dollars and even euros are accepted everywhere, especially within the tourism trade. This use of other currencies has been sanctioned by the government, so don’t feel you have to do this under the table. The currency has been relatively stable since a large drop in value in 2004, though inflation is a constant issue.
Banks in the Dominican Republic
Scotiabank is the only international banking corporation to operate within the Dominican Republic. However, there are several large Dominican retail banks including Banco Popular, Banco Leon and Banreservas. Banking in the country is considered much more secure since the large Baninter corporation collapsed following a fraud investigation and financial regulations were strengthened.
It’s not recommend you keep large sums in your account however - some expats have reported that their accounts get suspended frequently and for no reason - but having enough in your account to pay your monthly expenses is worthwhile.
Opening a Dominican bank account
Though it’s not necessary to be a Dominican resident to open an account, there can be a fair amount of red tape involved with everyday banking as a foreigner - especially if your Spanish isn’t fluent.
It often helps to go along to a branch with somebody on good terms with the bank manager - as with many aspects of Dominican life, making the right impression can make things easier.
To open an account you’ll need:
- your passport
- a letter of recommendation from your current bank
- details of accounts you already have
- evidence of your income sources.
There are a range of options in the way of account types, including the possibility of opening a US dollar account. A Dominican peso account will bring you the advantages of having a credit or debit card and a cheque book, while a dollar account will only get you a transaction booklet. A credit card isn’t ideal for many people as interest rates are high at around 10%.