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Using Dollars, Euros, and Pounds
Outside Their Own 'Territory'

Foreign currency travel tips for 3 most commonly used currencies

Some currencies are strong, and some are weak. Some currencies are common, while others are more obscure. In certain cases, it's actually better to use a strong, well-known currency than it is to use the official currency of the nation you're visiting. This is because weaker currencies are often considered of less worth to vendors than stronger or hard currencies – for which they have much more practical use. The three currencies most commonly used outside their own ostensible 'territory' are: the US Dollar, the Euro, and the Pound Sterling.

Where to use hard currencies
The US Dollar, the Euro and the Pound Sterling are considered hard currencies, which are
used in many countries worldwide, making them most convenient for travel expenses.

There are admittedly stronger currencies than some of these three in the world – but these have the advantage of being widely used. This makes them easy to exchange, and easy to trade in, giving them considerable value in many areas of the world. Even if you're travelling to somewhere with a relatively stable currency, it's a good idea to get some pounds, euros, or US dollars as well when you're sorting your cash – just in case you need to change out some cash in an emergency!

Listed below are the parts of the world where you can easily use US dollars, pounds sterling, and euros:

US Dollars

The US Dollar is widely accepted all over the world. While you may have trouble using them in nations which have strong currencies (avoid taking them to the Eurozone, Britain, Australia, China, Japan, or anywhere else with a thriving local currency), most more economically marginal nations will welcome US Dollars. However, some are more accustomed to accepting USD than others. Here is a quick run-through of the best places to use USD:

The US Dollar notes
The US Dollar is one of widely accepted hard currencies around the world

The USA 

(obviously!)

Panama

Panama used the USD alongside its own currency (the balboa)

Ecuador

Following a turbulent history with its own currency, Ecuador voted in 2000 to adopt the US dollar as its official currency. The decision to do so was not popular with Ecuadoreans, but the currency has stuck.

The Bahamas

The Bahamaian Dollar has a 1:1 exchange rate with the USD, which makes them basically indistinguishable. Bahamaian vendors will happily trade in both currencies – but, be warned, it does not often work the other way around! American vendors will look askance at you if you try to use Bahamaian dollars in the USA.

Turks and Caicos

This Caribbean island, famed as a retreat for the rich and famous, is also a bit of a tax haven. It uses USD as its official currency – one reason for its popularity with American business people and celebrities.

Vietnam

Vietnamese vendors have been unofficially accepting USD in payment for a long time. However, the Vietnamese authorities are doing their best to curb this, and to shore upon their own currency (the dong). Vendors found accepting USD are sometimes subject to heavy fines. So the situation for dollar-using tourists to Vietnam is likely to change significantly in the next few years.

Belize

Unusually for a former British territory, Belize has never backed its currency to the pound sterling. Instead, it has pegged its currency to the US Dollar.

Pounds Sterling

The British pound is officially issued and used in many places. Interestingly, the currency looks quite different depending on where it is issued, which leads to confusion for some. However, anything bearing the pound (L) sign and the Queen's image is officially pounds sterling, and can be used anywhere within the United Kingdom and its outlying islands. It can also be used in many British overseas territories, and even some nations with no current connection to the UK allow it.

The Pound Sterling notes
The British pound is widely used in British Territories and other countries

British Overseas Territories 

All allow use of the pound. These are: The British Antarctic Territory; The Falkland Islands; Gibraltar; St Helena, Ascencion, and Tristan de Cunha; The Isle Of Man; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; Jersey; Guernsey;

Egypt

While not all Egyptian vendors are happy about accepting pounds sterling, those in more 'touristy' areas will take pounds with equanimity.

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's own currency was abandoned in 2015. The nation now uses a variety of other currencies, including the South African rand, Botswana pula, Pound sterling, Indian rupee, Euro, Japanese yen, Australian dollar, Chinese yuan, and the USD. Of these, the pound sterling is one of the more commonly used.

Euros

The Euro is the official currency of the 'Eurozone' - a conglomerate of European nations. The Eurozone comprises of 19 countries:

  • The Euro notes
    The Euro is the official currency for the Eurozone, also used by many other countries in Europe.
    Austria
  • Belgium
  • Cyprus
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherland
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Slovenia
  • Slovakia

The EU now has 27 member countries (after the UK's Brexit), of which the above 19 use the Euro as their official currency. The other 8 use their own currencies, such as Sweden and Denmark, although many of them, especially the Eastern European member countries, will gladly accept Euros from the travellers.

However, you can also use Euros in many other countries – depending on where you are, and where you shop:

The UK

Some UK vendors will accept Euros, but usually only if they are in a 'touristy' area, and have easy access to currency exchange services. A commission is usually charged for payment in Euros.

Kosovo

Kosovo uses the Euro as its official currency, despite not being in the EU.

Montenegro

Like Kosovo, Montenegro is a non-EU country using Euros.

Denmark

Danes will sometimes accept Euros, although this is not universally the case.

Turkey

Being closely connected with Europe (and showing signs of wanting to enter the Eurozone), Turkey is well accustomed to accepting Euros alongside its own Lira.

The above hard currencies are the most widely available and the easiest to convert on your holiday or travel trips. Bringing with you any of these will make it easier to book your accommodation or pay your holiday expenses.

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