US Shopping -

The official US currency is the United States dollar (symbol: $). Conversion rates vary daily, but approximate ratios with other major currencies (as of November 2005) follow:

  Euro: 1 = $1.18, $1 = 0.85
  Yen: 1 yen = $0.01, $1 = 119 yen
  Canadian dollar: CAD$1 = $0.85, $1 = CAD$1.17
  British pound: 1 = $1.72, $1 = 0.58
  Australian dollar: AUD$1 = $0.74, $1 = AUD$1.35

For current conversion rates you may go here .

Because of America's relative isolation, currency exchange centers are relatively rare outside the downtowns of coastal cities and international airports. However, some banks are able to convert foreign currency to U.S. dollars, although it is often unclear which banks will and won't and in any case the exchange rate is likely to be unfavorable. In addition, with some banks, the currency exchange process might take up to a week, during which the bank keeps the currency in its possession. Most automated teller machines (ATMs) can handle foreign bank cards or credit cards, but fees of $2-$10 can apply. Also, most ATMs provide transactions in English and Spanish only.

Major credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard are widely used. Other cards, namely popular brands such as American Express and Discover are also widely accepted, but might not be as widely available as Visa or MasterCard. Almost all restaurants, hotels, and shops will accept credit cards, and when making large purchases, it is typical for the shop to ask for picture identification. Most Americans, except in big cities, shop at malls. These shopping centers vary from small strip malls (implying a long, straight line or "strip" of stores) with perhaps a dozen or so stores, to gigantic malls that contain hundreds of stores and acres of parking space. These will certainly include some so-called big box stores, facilities that in themselves are huge and that aggregate anything from baby shoes to lawnmowers under one roof. Generally you can get to a mall only by car, although for the larger ones bus service is usually available.

American posted prices are usually set in stone and non-negotiable. Some retail stores have student or senior discounts but you will probably have to ask. Americans love a good bargain and respect a bargain-hunter, so it never hurts to ask store personnel how to get lower prices. Every state except for Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota and Oregon have a state or county sales tax, ranging from 2.5% in less populated area to about 8-9% in larger cities and states. Tax is not included in almost any price except for gas and vending machines. If you intend to visit any of the National Parks Service sites, such as the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park, it is worth considering purchasing a National Park Pass - this costs US$50 and gives access to almost all of the National Parks for one year. Considering the price of admission to many parks is at least US$20 EACH, if you visit more than a couple of parks the park pass will be the cheaper solution.

Adapted from WikiTravel under the Wiki License

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