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04/17/2011

Cayman Islands Currency

Often in the Cayman Islands, first time visitors leave a restaurant or store thinking, "Did I just get ripped off?" Most likely, you did not get ripped off, but haven't quite figured out the Cayman Islands currency conversion rates. Caymanians are very honest people by nature so they are not inclined to intentionally trick tourists into paying more than they should. This quick history and summary of the Caymanian dollar should help you understand  the conversion rate so you don't have to worry on your trip.

The Cayman dollar is the 9th highest-valued currency unit in the world and the highest-valued dollar unit. It is denoted as CI$ to separate itself from other countries that use dollars as their currency. Surprisingly, the dollar was not introduced to the Cayman Islands until 1972, which is a relatively short time ago. At this time it replaced the Jamaican dollar and by 1974 the Cayman Islands dollar equalled 1.2 U.S. Dollars, and it has remained that way ever since. Much like the U.S. money system, Caymanian currency consists of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. The paper money system consists of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, and 100. All paper money denotes an image of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The only way to distinguish the amounts are by color and the dollar amount printed in the corner (see image).

Cayman currency

The biggest thing to keep in mind when shopping or dining in Cayman is that everything is listed in CI$, which means you need to do the conversion to US Dollars in your head to keep track of how much you are spending. For example, if you go to the grocery store and you get $80 worth of food, that is in CI$, which means you will owe the clerk 80 CI$ or $100.00 U.S. This concept frustrates many visitors because they feel like they are getting ripped off. The same goes for dining out. If you have a meal that costs 130 CI$, it actually costs $161.15 U.S. Basically the best way to keep it straight is to always remember that $1.00 U.S. equals 0.80 CI$. 

Paying in Cayman is very visitor-friendly. They allow you to pay in CI, US, or with any major credit card. However, if paying in cash, they will always give you Caymanian change regardless of what type of money you give them. Keep this in mind when paying with U.S. money. For example, if you purchase a rum punch on the beach for 5.00 CI$, it is really $6.20 US. If you were to pay for that rum punch with a $10.00 U.S. bill, it's the equivalent of giving them 8.07 CI$. So they will give you back 3.07 CI$ as your change. It is a confusing concept at first, especially if you have never dealt with exchange rates before. As I said before, Caymanians are honest by nature and are not going to attempt to scam a tourist, but it is smart to be aware of this so you can do the quick math in your head and call them out if you think they've made a mistake. This link below has a quick convertor from US to CI or CI to US, which can be useful to get a feel for the conversion rate.

Quick Conversion

When traveling to Cayman, cash is typically needed for taxis, but for the most part every other purchase can be put on all major U.S. credit cards and there are also ATMs available throughout the island. Hopefully now you are ready for a great trip to the Cayman Islands with this quick money lesson. From the famous lyrics of The Barefoot Man, "Cent....5 cent.....10 cent....dollar." Who is the Barefoot Man? Sounds like a great blog post for next Sunday. Until then....

Comments

very informative information on the CI money system with a little history attached. I have been to the Cayman's several times and this was the best explanation ever.

It was very interesting to read about. I am planning a trip over there soon this year. - Bart

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