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How to Avoid Hidden Extras in the USA

29th May 2018
Ah… the USA, the land of the fee (and the free).  The United States is a favourite travelling destination for a reason, with endless strips of road that cut through raw deserts, pass striking mountains, and glide through its vivid cities. No wonder there are so many road trip movies set there (well, probably because Hollywood makes those movies).
But along your trip through the stunning states, you may bump into the potholes of hidden extras. We want your stars and stripes budget to stand steadfast, so we’ve put together four tips on finding and avoiding those extras.

Using Cash

Cash is the bread and butter (or PB&J) of America, so we would definitely recommend you carry enough cash for meals and small purchases. (It’s also handy when it’s time to tip). But don’t worry; dimes and pennies aren’t as confusing as Fahrenheit and feet; check here for more info on the USD
Although you may feel like a movie star carrying so many coins, it’s better to have none when you depart. Get in the habit of paying your coin portion of each cash transaction with coins. If something is US$7.21, pay US$10.21 – that way you receive bills as change. This way you won’t have useless coins at the end of your trip. Instead, you’ll have bills you can exchange.


Using Card

For big items, like a mega jumbo extra-large burger meal, or accommodation, using your plastic is the best and easiest option. Just be wary of ridiculous credit card transaction fees and ATMs…. Some ATMs will charge up to US$20 for one withdrawal (that’s over a week’s worth of coffee). If you’re in Vegas the prices are always high, but you can save a lot by heading to the old part of town. The Multi-currency Cash Passport is a secure and flexible way to load up US currency to your heart’s content. And with space for up to 9 currencies, if you decide to stop over in Canada (or USeh) or Mexico, you’ll be fully prepared. Plus, when you load your currency on your card, you'll also be locking in that days exchange rate+ … time this right and you’ll really notice the difference in your savings fund. 


TIpping is well alive in the USA, you’ll have to be prepared to pay what seems to us like a hidden extra. 
This big tipping culture has arisen from a much lower minimum wage that can be reduced to the tiny amount of US$2.13 per hour, if the employee can receive tips. So if you’ve ever heard the phrase ‘I work on tips’, well… 
Here’s our approximate tipping lowdown: 
• Taxi drivers: 10-15% of the fare
• Hotel staff: US$2 for porters (or US$1 per bag), and US$2-$5 each day for housekeeping
• Restaurant waiters: 15-20% of the total bill (in a larger group, 25% is polite)
• Bartenders: US$1 per drink.

Transport Tricks

Making your way downtown, walking fast, is a great way to see the cities of each state. But at almost 10 million km2, you will end up needing cheap and reliable transport at some point.
Here are a couple of tips to help you keep your transport costs down.
• Car hire: Make your road trip a round trip (dropping off a hire car in a different tate can cost up to US$500).
• Ride sharing: Check ride-sharing apps to find cheap rides around the city.
• Public transport: Especially in major citites, this is a cheap and reliable option that's more comfortable than you think.
For more information on how you can maximise your money when you're travelling in the USA, find your nearest store and speak with one of our experts.

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