A Bermuda dollar comprises of 100 cents and trades at par with the US Dollar. Which means that 1 Bermuda dollar is treated same as 1 US dollar within the island. Both currencies circulate freely within Bermuda. Over 300 years Bermuda has been issuing their own currencies. Prior to 1970, the basic unit of Bermuda's currency was pound. Those days the British coins were used although Bermuda printed its own bank notes. Since 1970 dollar has replaced Pound, and both coins & notes are now issued in Bermuda.
Update Jan 1, 2014: Effective first day of 2014, the old horizontal notes of $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 that were introduced in 1970 are withdrawn from circulation by Bermuda Government. They will all be replaced with the equivalent vertical notes series first introduced in 2009. So you will not be able to make any purchase with the earlier horizontal notes any longer. However you possess them, you still have 10 years to exchange them with new notes at the banks.
Bermuda currencies can be taken out of the island in small quantities and are usually heavily discounted outside Bermuda. Once taken back to the U.S and other countries, it becomes very difficult if not impossible to exchange the Bermuda dollars. This is particularly so in the U.S. So before leaving the island, try to exchange all your Bermuda dollars with your home currency unless you like to keep some as part of your coin & notes collections.
While making purchases, you can get changes back in both Bermuda and U.S currencies. You can request the storekeeper or the merchant to return you only U.S currencies. That may not be always possible though. For visitors and tourists, U.S currency is always preferable because you take any remaining cash back with you without having to exchange in Bermuda.
Also remember that the ATMs in Bermuda would dispense Bermuda dollars only. So avoid withdrawing any additional cash from the ATMs other than what you think you will need to spend in the island. In Bermuda, there are notes available in denominations of Bermuda Dollar (BMD) 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100. Other than 1 dollar coin, there are coins for 1, 5, 10 and 25 cents.
While both the notes and coins have the Queen's face on one side, the back side of the coins are quite interesting. The penny (one cent) has a nick name of "Hog Penny" and has a picture of a hog (i.e. a pig) on the other side. 5 cents coin has a fish, and 25 cents has a picture of a Bermuda's longtail
ATMs in Bermuda
There are dozens of 24-hour ATMs in Bermuda accepting Cirrus and Plus system ATM cards and MasterCard and Visa credit cards. Here are the main ATM locations in Bermuda:
Hamilton City: 6 & 37 Front Street, 64 Church Street, 9 Bermudiana Rd.
Royal Naval Dockyard, Sandys.
31 Mangrove Bay Road, Somerset Branch, Sandy's (Ph: 441/299-5959)
4 Kings Square, St. George (Ph: 441/299-5959)
65 Front Street, Hamilton City. Phone: (441) 295-1111
Also at the following locations:
Royal Naval Dockyard, Sandys.
14 Bermudiana Rd (Ph: 441/298-3957) and 90 Pitts Bay Rd (Ph: 441/294-2071), Hamilton City
45 Mangrove Bay (Ph: 441/234-0048) and 48 Somerset Road (Ph: 441/295-1111) in Sandy's
The MarketPlace Super Market
42 Church Street, Hamilton City. Phone: (441) 292-3163
227 Middle Road, Heron Bay, Southampton. Phone: (441) 238-1993
104 South Road, Paget. Phone: (441) 236-6161
19 Reid Street, Hamilton City. Phone: (441) 296-6969
The Ice Queen
30 Queen Street, Hamilton City. Phone: (441) 236-3136
Bermuda Industrial Union Esso Gas Station
22 Dundonald Street, Hamilton City. Phone: (441) 292-2726
Modes & ways of using money in Bermuda
While cash (US$) is the best option because you don't need to pay any transaction fees or service charges, carrying cash beyond a limit is not practical and safe. US$ trades freely in the island and equates to one Bermuda dollar. US currency can be used everywhere including in stores, restaurants etc.
Although there are plenty of ATMs available all over the island, remember that every time you use your debit or credit cards at the ATMs or at the retail stores, there will be transaction charge of up to 3% levied by the bank. If you use credit cards to withdraw money from ATMs, there will be additional interest charged by the bank from the time you withdraw until the time you square off the credit.
As I mentioned earlier, the ATMs in Bermuda dispense only Bermuda dollars. Note that the Discover cards that are available in US are not accepted in Bermuda. However Master and Visa cards are accepted widely in the island.
Note: There is a transition currently happening in Bermuda from the normal magnetic swipe cards to the Chip & Pin cards. Which means gradually over a period of time all the retail outlets, restaurants and hotels will only accept credit and debit cards having a computer chip on them that ask for a 4-digit PIN. This is only to protect against fraudulent use of the cards. Banks are these days issuing Chip & Pin cards. However, at present both forms of cards are accepted in Bermuda.
Another good option is to carry Travelers Checks. You get them in various denominations between $20 to $1000. These are widely accepted at the banks and larger hotels. The most popular ones are American Express Travelers Checks. There is usually a service charge between 1 to 4% that applies.
Currency Cards or the Travelers Check Cards also work equally well in Bermuda. They act like debit cards but are not linked to your Checking or Savings account. However there is a one time issuance fee and also a transaction charge that applies.
Non-Bermudians or expatriates can not operate or maintain bank accounts in Bermuda dollars. The only exceptions are made when you need to bear the local expenses incurred while running a business and therefore need to pay in Bermuda dollars. Bermuda does not license international banks to operate on the island. There are only four local Banks in Bermuda
2) Check out Bermuda Economy
to know all about economic factors and trends in Bermuda.