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Currency

Hawaii uses the United States dollar as its currency. Exchanging money in Hawaii is as simple as using an ATM (automated teller machine), however, it’s helpful to exchange some of your currency before you travel so you’ll have money for cab fare and other incidentals.

Recently, U.S. currency has been reissued with new safety features, so there are many different varieties of bills and coins in circulation. U.S. paper bills come in $1, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations. (Please note that some small stores and fast food outlets in Hawaii will not accept bills over $20.)

U.S. coins include the penny (1 cent), nickel (5 cents), dime (10 cents) and quarter (25 cents). There are also $1 coins but they are not used very often and can be easily mistaken for quarters.

ATMs

Bring your debit card and you can withdraw cash from an ATM. The machine handles the currency exchange for you, and the service fee may be less than a bank. ATMs also accept credit cards for cash advances, but the foreign exchange fees may be higher, so check with your bank prior to traveling.

Banks

If you will be conducting business or making large purchases, many Hawaii banks have international banking divisions.

Shopping & Dining

The majority of stores and restaurants in Hawaii accept cash, debit and credit cards. Checks and travelers checks are accepted at some locations, but it’s best to check with the merchant first. If you are shopping with an international credit card, please check with your financial institution regarding currency exchange rates and international transaction fees.

Tipping

Tips are customary and appreciated for good service. U.S. guidelines are 15-20% on served meals, at least $1 per bag for porters and at least $1 per night for housekeeping. 

Bringing money into the United States

If you and your travel companions together are carrying $10,000 or more in cash or other negotiable instruments such as endorsed checks, you must declare it upon arrival. If you do not, it is subject to forfeiture. Your money is not subject to taxation or duty. For more information, download this handy guide for international visitors or click on US Customs and Border Protection.

Hawaii State Tax

Hawaii does not have a sales tax, however we have a General Excise Tax which businesses can pass on to their customers. This GE Tax on goods and services varies by county (island).

Kauai - 4.166 %
Oahu - 4.712 %
Molokai - 4.166%
Lanai - 4.166 %
Maui - 4.166%
Hawaii Island - 4.166%

Hotel Room Tax 

In addition to the 4.712% General Excise Tax, all visitors who stay in hotels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, inns and timeshares are required to pay a "Transient Accommodations Tax." This state tax is currently 9.25 percent, and is expected to rise to 11.25% in 2013. This means the total tax on a hotel room will be 15.96%.