If you’re planning a trip to St Lucia then you may be wondering whether or not US dollars are accepted on the island.
I was wondering the exact same thing so I did a ton of research before I visited and thought I’d put it all together in this complete guide with everything you need to know.
This guide covers if St Lucia accepts US dollars, what the local currency is and which is the best currency to use in St Lucia (and why).
Does St Lucia Accept US Dollars?
Ok let’s start by answering your burning question…
St Lucia does accept US dollars but they do also have their own currency (East Caribbean Dollar).
When I visited the island recently, I found that US dollars were widely accepted by hotels, shops, restaurants and taxis.
Some of the smaller shops, particularly street stalls or markets, didn’t accept them but overall I only encountered this a couple of times.
Most shops and restaurants will accept US dollars but they usually give you change in the local currency.
This really confused me at first and made it really difficult to figure out if I’d been given the right change.
Another thing to note is that the exchange rate is fixed but you’ll sometimes find that vendors round up the price to the nearest dollar if you choose to pay in US dollars.
For example, if whatever you’re buying costs $5.17, they will often round it up to $6. This happened to me so many times and the vendors really don’t like it when you question it so I generally just paid the slightly higher price.
Another thing that came up a few times was that some shops and restaurants wouldn’t accept larger notes like $50 or $100 bills so I found that it was better to use smaller notes like $5, $10 and $20.
I also heard that it’s very common for shops, restaurants and even banks to refuse old, torn, dirty or creased notes and instead ask for new, crisp notes.
The banks in St Lucia often do not accept damaged notes so vendors may be reluctant to accept any money from you that looks too crinkled or damaged.
This never happened to me personally but I heard from a few people at my hotel that their money was refused for this reason.
I also found that most hotels, restaurants and larger shops also accept credit cards but smaller shops rarely do.
Find out how much spending money to take to St Lucia in my complete guide.
ATM Machines in St Lucia
If you get money from an ATM machine in St Lucia, you’ll get the local currency. There are plenty of ATM machines across the island.
Many hotels actually have ATM machines on-site so ask a member of staff to help you. If not, they should be able to tell you where the nearest one is.
It’s always recommended that you have at least a little bit of the local currency on you at all times.
Even though most vendors will accept US dollars, you may find the odd place that won’t so it’s best to be prepared.
This is sometimes common if you’re buying from local market stalls or street food vendors.
What Currency is Used in St Lucia?
The currency used in St Lucia is the Eastern Caribbean dollar. This is usually abbreviated to EC or XCD and is presented using the standard $ sign.
This type of dollar is linked to the US dollar so the exchange rate doesn’t vary.
Just like the US dollar, one Eastern Caribbean dollar is made up of 100 cents and has banknotes of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100.
There are also coins with the values of 1¢, 2¢, 5¢, 10¢, 25¢ and $1.
Currency Exchange Rate
At the time of writing (May 2023), the exchange rate is $1 US = $2.70 EC dollar.
As the EC dollar is linked to the US dollar, it has a fixed exchange rate so it never changes.
In fact, it hasn’t changed at all since 1976 when it was first linked to the US dollar.
You can see this for yourself on this 10-year exchange chart on XE.com. As you can see, the exchange rate never changes.
This fixed exchange rate aims to preserve the value of the EC dollar and provides it with stability.
Best Currency For St Lucia
I personally found that it was way easier to use the local currency (Eastern Caribbean Dollar) in St Lucia as you tend to get better prices.
When you pay in USD, you often get your change in the local currency which makes figuring out if you got the right change difficult.
For this reason, I ended up exchanging most of my US dollars into the local currency a few days after I arrived as it was so much easier.
I’d recommended taking US dollar (or your own local currency) with you and exchanging it into EC dollar when you arrive in St Lucia.
You can usually exchange money before you leave your country, at the airport when you arrive or at your hotel. There are also several banks in St Lucia that will exchange your money.
Please note that in St Lucia banks are generally only open from 8AM – 2PM Monday to Thursday. On Fridays, opening hours are 8AM – 4PM.
Most banks close on weekends but some are open from 8:30AM – 11AM on Saturdays.
To avoid the hassle, it’s great to know that most places in St Lucia will accept credit or debit cards so you don’t need to have too much cash on you.
If you choose to pay in US dollar then expect to pay slightly more.
It’s common for people in St Lucia to round the price up to the nearest dollar as they don’t use US coins there (only notes).
For example, if something costs $2.50 US then it will likely be rounded to $3. Over the course of your stay in St Lucia, these additions can add up quite a lot.
It’s also common for vendors to give really poor exchange rates so it’s better to use EC dollar wherever possible.
And that’s it!
Thanks for reading this post on if St Lucia accepts US dollars.
Another thing that many people are unsure about when visiting St Lucia is the tipping culture.
Questions like if St Lucia accepts tips and how much you should tip are common and that’s why I wrote an entire guide to tipping in St Lucia so you know exactly how much to tip and when.
Need more help planning your St Lucia vacation?