Bringing Money with You
The US money system is quite easy to learn. We have several denominations of bills: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. The coin system is equally as simple. We have a penny (1 cent), a nickel (5 cents), a dime (10 cents), a quarter (25 cents), half dollar (50 cents), and several $1 coins (Sacagawea, the silver dollar, and the new gold President dollar).
Foreign exchange bureaus are not easily found in the US so make sure you have your money converted before your trip. Some banks may exchange it for you at a fee.
Traveler’s Checks in US denominations are accepted everywhere in the US. Foreign checks are quite difficult to exchange. There are three that are widely recognized here in the US. They are Visa, Mastercard, and Thomas Cook. Be sure to keep the serial numbers written down in a safe place in case yours are lost or stolen. To exchange them for US cash, you will need your driver’s license and/or your passport for identification.
Credit Cards accepted in the US are Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diner’s Club, Discover, and Carte Blanche. Some Vegas vendors may also accept international cards such as enRoute, EuroCard, and JCB. Most businesses will have a sticker in the corner of their door to let you know what they will and won’t accept. Also, some businesses may require a minimum ten dollar purchase before they will accept the card.
ATMs can be found on almost every block in the US. Make sure your PIN number is well out of sight and don’t place it on the back of your card. You can only get US currency out of the ATMs. If you are not with the bank you are withdrawing from, expect to be charged $3 or more for the transaction. One way to get around the fee is go to a grocery store and buy something and get cash back. Fees are not usually charged then.
Tipping in Las Vegas
Being the money making location Las Vegas is, it only makes sense that everyone is out to get their share of the pie. Tipping is expected in certain circumstances and venues. Here is a list of people and tips they are expecting to receive:
Hotel bellhops get $1 per bag, unless man bags, then $2-3 per bag.
Chamber staff get $1-2 a day, unless you have a pet or made a big mess.
Tip the doorman or concierge only if they have given you specific information about something you want to do or see.
Valet parking attendant should get $1 every time you get your car.
Restaurant servers get 15-20% of the bill.
Bartenders get 10-15% of the total bar bill.
Coat room attendants get $1 per article of clothing.
Cab drivers get 10-15% of the fare.
Skycaps at the airport get $1 per bag, unless you have many bags, then $2-3 per bag.
Barbers and Hairdressers get 15-20%.
Ushers at movies get no tip.
Gas station attendants get no tip.
If a theater has maitre d’ seating and you want to upgrade your seat, tip him $15-20 per couple. But have your money ready, because they get annoyed if they have to wait. You may also tip with chips from the casino where the show is playing.
Dealers in the casino get a few dollars if you had a big win or if they helped you by explaining how to play and what to do.
Remembering to tip can also get you unexpected results. The cab driver may take you the scenic route. The concierge may work harder at getting those hard to find concert tickets. The chamber staff may grant special requests that they normally wouldn’t do.