Why Cash Is Crucial For Your Turks And Caicos Trip

A Turks and Caicos vacation usually means clear turquoise waters and beaches, and being an archipelago of 40 islands, there's no shortage of beaches here. The country has many well-known beaches, according to Visit Turks and Caicos Islands, the most famous of which is Grace Bay Beach, which consistently wins awards for the best beach in the world, per Forbes.

While beaches might be plentiful in the country, finding sources of cash can be difficult, and you'll need ample amounts of moolah during your travels to Turks and Caicos. Whereas on Provo, as Providenciales is locally known, and Grand Turks you might not feel the need for local coins and bills, outside the big islands and big shops, cash is important to have on hand.

So, if you're planning a holiday to this tropical destination anytime soon, bring your credit cards and traveler's checks, but don't forget the country's legal tender. Here are the top reasons why you should bring enough cash with you on a Turks and Caicos trip.

Smaller islands and establishments accept cash only

In general, large businesses and other tourist-related establishments accept credit card payments, especially if they're located in Provo and Grand Turk. In these islands, you can typically use most major credit cards, including MasterCard, Visa, and Discover, to pay for your hotel accommodation, restaurant bill, tours and excursions, and vehicle rental. You can even use your card to pay for your hotel stay at Salt Cay, North Caicos, South Caicos, and Middle Caicos, according to Visit Turks and Caicos Islands. However, note that American Express is not as widely accepted as the others, so Fodor's recommends bringing more than one card.

On the other hand, small businesses anywhere in the country tend to accept cash payments only. This is especially true for those outside the larger islands of Provo and Grand Turk. So, if you're planning on traveling to smaller islands, or visiting, eating out, or purchasing from small establishments in the larger islands, you'll need to bring plenty of loose change and small bills with you to pay for snacks and tips, according to Frommer's.

Banks and ATMs can be difficult to find in small islands

While ATMs are available in Provo and Grand Turks, you shouldn't expect them to be as widespread as in America or other developed nations. In Provo, there are two ATMs at the Providenciales International Airport, according to Frommer's. One is at the international arrivals hall and the other is located at the international check-in. Elsewhere on the island, you'll find ATMs at the Graceway IGA supermarket, local banks, and at some larger resorts, according to Visit Turks and Caicos Islands.

The publication also notes the following ATM locations. If you're at Grand Turk, local bank branches have ATMs, and you'll also find them at the Grace supermarket and the Grand Turk Cruise Center. At Grace Bay, Saltmills plazas, the Graceway Gourmet, and local branches of Scotiabank and FirstCaribbean have ATMs available on site.

You'll be hard-pressed to find an ATM in the smaller Turks and Caicos islands. In fact, you won't find any at Salt Cay and Middle Caicos, according to Visit Turks and Caicos Islands. Only North Caicos and South Caicos have ATMs. In North Caicos, there's an ATM at Bottle Creek, while in South Caicos, there's one at Cockburn Harbour. Visit Turks and Caicos Islands warns, however, that ATMs are regularly broken and may remain so for the rest of your stay – yet another reason why you should have cash before you travel to the country.

Exchanging foreign currency can be difficult and costly

Although a British overseas territory, Turks and Caicos' official currency is the U.S. dollar, so Americans will have no problem bringing cash. For non-U.S. visitors, you can go to the banks to exchange British pound, euro, and Canadian dollar, as the airport doesn't have any foreign currency exchangers, according to Visit Turks and Caicos Islands. However, as mentioned, branches of international banks are primarily concentrated in Provo. You'll find the Turks and Caicos exchange rates for Scotiabank and FirstCaribbean in the links.

Again, the best thing to do is exchange foreign currency before your trip, Visit Turks and Caicos Islands recommends, as aside from money exchangers being limited, exchange rate fees can also be high. You can visit your bank or credit union to exchange your currency to U.S. dollars. Doing so will ensure that you convert your currency into U.S. dollars with a low fee, typically about 1% to 3%, according to Atlys.