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Foreign Exchange Guide to the United States

Read this currency guide to the United States with money transfer and travel tips.

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Domestic Currency:
U.S. dollar
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This is a foreign exchange guide to the United States, U.S. dollar currency news plus USD transfers and travel tips.

In this guide we review :

  1. U.S. dollar info - general info about the U.S. dollar
  2. U.S. dollar in the markets - recent USD moves and predictions from the FX markets
  3. Travelling in the United States - currency & money saving tips
  4. Buying U.S. dollar cash online - travel money for the United States
  5. Sending money to the United States - save on U.S. dollar bank transfers to the United States
  6. U.S. dollar exchange rates - latest & historic exchange rates.

U.S. dollar (USD) general currency information

What do US dollar banknotes look like?

Currently printed denominations are $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. The following table shows the current design of the notes both front and reverse.

US dollar banknotes

US dollar banknotes - front and reverse design (source Wikipedia)

The currency is nicknamed the "green-back" as as you can see is predominantly green. So care should be taken when handing over money or checking your change in low-light situations. Post-2004 series banknotes have started to incorporate other colors to better distinguish different denominations.

Which countries besides the USA use the US Dollar as official currency?

Other nations besides the United States use the U.S. dollar as their official currency. For instance, Ecuador, El Salvador, and East Timor all adopted the currency independently. The former members of the U.S.-administered Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, which included Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands, chose not to issue their own currency after becoming independent, having all used the U.S. dollar since 1944.

Two British dependencies also use the U.S. dollar: the British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands. The islands Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, now collectively known as the Caribbean Netherlands, adopted the dollar on January 1, 2011, as a result of the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles. The U.S. dollar is the official currency for governmental transactions in Zimbabwe.

What is the U.S. dollar currency code and symbol?

The three letter currency code for the U.S. dollar is USD and the symbol is $.

Which countries use the U.S. dollar?

It is the domestic currency in United States, East Timor, Ecuador, El Salvador, British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, Caribbean Netherlands, Turks And Caicos Islands and Zimbabwe.

U.S. dollar (USD) in the markets

It was a fine run for the dollar during the six-week period ending May 25th – the day of this report. The Dollar Index never looked back after breaking from a pocket of congestion in the final week of April. The index ended this period achieving a six-month high of 94.3. The dollar benefited from higher US yields.

Against individual currencies, within this timeframe the dollar was impressive against the euro, which fell to buy only 1.165 dollars, from levels near 1.24; against the pound, which fell to buy 1.33 dollars, from 1.44; and against the New Zealand dollar, which fell to 0.69 from 0.738.

A warning on the dollar’s medium-term outlook was offered in May by Citibank. The bank argues that downward pressure on the dollar will resume because Washington’s planned fiscal spending will cause a further deterioration in the US’ twin deficits. The dollar might have 5 percent downside over 6-12 months and 10 percent downside in the long run, a Citi analyst said.

In the coming month, supporting the dollar against growth-sensitive currencies, which include CAD, AUD, NZD, SEK, NOK, SGD and most of the emerging market currencies, will be developments surrounding global trade. In May, trade tensions resurfaced after the US Commerce Department announced it would investigate automobile imports. In 2018, Washington had already announced tariffs on aluminium and steel imports, angering much of the rest of the world.

The interactive chart below shows the USD to EUR exchange rate for the previous 3 months with rate alerts for days when the exchange rate moved up or down significantly or for 30 day highs and lows.

USD-EUR 3 Month chart
USD-EUR 3 Month chart
USDEUR currency converter

Travel, Currency and Money saving tips for the United States

Most cities and larger towns have dependable local bus systems, though they are often designed for commuters and provide limited service in the evening and on weekends. Getting around between cities via bus or train can often be not must cheaper than getting a cheap flight, so its something to consider depending on your travel taste and how much time you want to save travelling.

Eating out is relatively cheap and you may find that one meal could easily feed two. When tipping for food 15%-20% of the cost of the meal is expected as it is considered part of a waiter's wage.

New York street scene

Don't just stick to the cities, National Parks in the USA are some of the best things about the US. Stunning landscapes, Ranger guided tours and facilities and consistently excellent, while the information handed out for free is amazing. And you you don't need to be a hardcore hiker to explore rugged, remote parks. The policy of putting in drive-up viewpoints and easy, flat paths makes the parks remarkably easy to travel round, even if you've limited mobility.

Flying over Half Dome - a granite formation at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park, California

Travel money for the United States

Save money and time by Ordering your U.S. dollar online from Travelex, you get better rates and can pick up the USD cash locally or even on travel day at the airport.

Another popular option is to use a Pre-paid Travel Card. Your Debit/Credit Card provider will charge you 2% from market mid-rate, but your bank may also charge an extra 3% as an “Overseas Transaction Charge” plus “Overseas ATM” fees for withdrawing cash.

For card purchases if offered a choice of currencies always select to Pay in U.S. dollar otherwise you may get much worst exchange rates.

the United States Trip Checklist    

  1. Compare USD travel cash rates - probably why you are here!
  2. Search Hotel deals - Save on your accomodation in the United States
  3. Lonely Planet - world's best travel guide (coupon and deals)

Sending money to the United States

When searching around for information on how to get a good exchange rate when sending money to the United States you need to start with finding out the latest U.S. dollar foreign-transfer exchange rate.

Then compare your bank's exchange rates to several licensed FX providers exchange rate and fees to see how much you can save (we make that calculation easy here).

What prime property does $US1m buy in the United States?

Using New York, Los Angeles and Miami as examples to compare the area (㎡) of prime property that $US1million buys in the US (Q1 2018) the sizes are: New York 25㎡, Los Angeles 58㎡ and Miami 78㎡.

This is compared to equivalent areas for Hong Kong 22㎡, London 27㎡, Singapore 37㎡, Paris 45㎡, Shanghai 50㎡, Tokyo 70㎡, Berlin 74㎡, Mumbai 94㎡, Istanbul 110㎡, Dubai 138㎡ and San Paulo 172㎡.

Get a better deal for foreign transfers to the United States

When sending money to the United States it’s important to compare your bank’s rates & fees with those we have negotiated with our partner money transfer providers. To get a better deal you should follow these 4 simple steps :

  1. Open an account with a BER reviewed FX provider (id docs may be required)
  2. You specify the local or U.S. dollar amount you want to transfer
  3. Make a local currency domestic transfer for the requested amount to the provider's bank account in your country
  4. Once your funds are received by the provider the converted USD amount will be transfered to the recipient account you specify in the United States.

Use our Send to USD calculator to compare the exchange rates of FX specialist providers rates versus your bank's standard rates you can hopefully save around 5% and maybe more - end result is more U.S. dollar deposited into the recipient bank account and less margins and fees kept by the banks!


Bank Transfers to the United States

Compare $USD Transfer Rates


U.S. dollar - exchange rates - live and historic

Major USD cross rates
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USD/EUR - U.S. dollar to Euro - 10 Year History

DateExchange RatePeriodChange
17 Jul 20180.8575Latest
10 Jul 20180.85271 Week+0.56%
17 Jun 20180.86261 Month-0.59%
18 Jan 20180.81746 Months+4.91%
17 Jul 20170.87161 Year-1.62%
17 Jul 20160.90422 Years-5.16%
18 Jul 20130.76255 Years+12.46%
19 Jul 20080.631710 Years+35.74%

USD/GBP - U.S. dollar to British pound sterling - 10 Year History

DateExchange RatePeriodChange
17 Jul 20180.7604Latest
10 Jul 20180.75431 Week+0.81%
17 Jun 20180.75331 Month+0.94%
18 Jan 20180.71986 Months+5.64%
17 Jul 20170.76621 Year-0.76%
17 Jul 20160.75472 Years+0.76%
18 Jul 20130.65855 Years+15.47%
19 Jul 20080.501010 Years+51.78%

USD/JPY - U.S. dollar to Japanese yen - 10 Year History

DateExchange RatePeriodChange
17 Jul 2018112.8544Latest
10 Jul 2018110.85651 Week+1.8%
17 Jun 2018110.64101 Month+2%
18 Jan 2018111.03966 Months+1.63%
17 Jul 2017112.60291 Year+0.22%
17 Jul 2016105.43502 Years+7.04%
18 Jul 2013100.10465 Years+12.74%
19 Jul 2008106.883710 Years+5.59%

USD/AUD - U.S. dollar to Australian dollar - 10 Year History

DateExchange RatePeriodChange
17 Jul 20181.3536Latest
10 Jul 20181.34851 Week+0.38%
17 Jun 20181.34411 Month+0.71%
18 Jan 20181.24926 Months+8.36%
17 Jul 20171.28381 Year+5.44%
17 Jul 20161.31632 Years+2.83%
18 Jul 20131.08795 Years+24.42%
19 Jul 20081.029010 Years+31.55%

USD/CAD - U.S. dollar to Canadian dollar - 10 Year History

DateExchange RatePeriodChange
17 Jul 20181.3202Latest
10 Jul 20181.31451 Week+0.43%
17 Jun 20181.32011 Month+0.01%
18 Jan 20181.24116 Months+6.37%
17 Jul 20171.26971 Year+3.98%
17 Jul 20161.29572 Years+1.89%
18 Jul 20131.03905 Years+27.06%
19 Jul 20081.005910 Years+31.25%

U.S. dollar News