Currency in the USA

Planning an exciting US adventure?

Currency needs to be on your to do list. Here is some general information about the US Dollar and some tips and tricks on and how to get the best deal on your conversion from NZD to USD.

Before you head off, learn about:

  • What US notes and coins look like
  • Can you use New Zealand Dollars in the US?
  • How to buy US dollars before your trip
  • How to buy currency when you get to the US

What US notes and coins look like


US dollar notes are set up a little differently to us in New Zealand. Mainly due to the fact that their one and two dollars are notes instead of coins. United States notes are made up of:

$1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100


Coins in the US are also a bit different. The coins there are:

1c (a Penny), 5c (a Nickel), 10c (a Dime) and 25c (a Quarter)

Can you use New Zealand Dollars in the US?

No, you can't.

You must use US currency (USD) when you're there. The rest of this article goes into detail about how you can exchange currency before you travel, and how to do it when you get to the US.

Is it cheaper to convert currency in New Zealand or the States?

Because exchange rates change so frequently, and every provider offers different rates it's hard to say where the cheapest place is to exchange currency.

Just steer clear of exchanging currency at the airport in New Zealand or in America. At both venues, the rates will be much worse than in the city centres.

When you're travelling to a place like the US you often get good NZD/USD exchange rates at your travel destination because New Zealand travellers go there frequently. This means money exchanges in the US are happy to trade NZD and USD currencies.

To find the best way to buy USD, you can read our guide here.

How to buy USD dollars before your trip


This is a convenient way to buy currency but you need some time. You can choose where to pick the order up from, and in some instances can get home delivery. When you order with Travelex, you can choose to order cash, a prepaid Travelex Money Card or both!

Use code CURRENCYSHOP to get a better USD rate with Travelex.

Money Changers

This is the best way to get currency quickly. You will find them in major shopping centres and towns. Our tip, is that the exchange rates are better in the city than what you'd find further out. So it can be worth going there if you're exchanging more than $2,000.

Find the best currency exchange in your area here.


Most banks do exchange currency. The issue is that they often have high fees, and don't offer very good rates. It's always better to compare rates elsewhere before deciding, but as a standard rule it's best to avoid your bank. Especially for a popular currency like USD.


Yes, you can buy currency at the airport. But that doesn't mean you should. While it's convenient, it's also very expensive. If you have run out of time before your trip, it's definitely better to buy currency when you get to America, or use your Aussie debit card instead.

How to buy US Dollars in the States

If you decide to buy your currency when you get to America, the first thing you'll need to do is make sure you have New Zealand dollars in cash. This way you can exchange it when you get there.

Similar to in doing it in New Zealand, it's best to avoid buying currency at the airport and the bank, and better to do it in one of the major city centres.

You can use this link to find Travelex stores in the US

Oscar Murray
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Last updated
July 20th, 2021