Q: Peter, How do you get the best exchange rate on currency? Should you try to get foreign currency from your bank before you leave? My wife and I are going to St. Lucia, and we were wondering if we should convert currency in the United States or in St. Lucia. Which would get us the better deal? Thanks!
–John, Eustis, Ga.
A: In my book, you should never exchange U.S. dollars for foreign currency in the United States. You will get a terrible exchange rate, and then of course, there are the commission charges. Your best bet remains to use your ATM or debit card while you are abroad. Before you leave, find out which U.S. financial institutions waive the ATM fees outside their own networks if you have an account with them. And finally, the best news of all: St. Lucia loves U.S. currency. You may not need to change any money at all!
St. Lucia accepts the American dollar, though their official currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar. You should check with each vendor you deal with to find out whether their posted prices are in Eastern Caribbean or American dollars. Either way, you should expect to get change back in Eastern Caribbean dollars.