There are two ways of looking at the prices in Belize: either it's one of the cheapest countries in the Caribbean or one of the most expensive countries in Central America. A good hotel room for two will cost you upward of BZ$250, and fancy beach resorts and jungle lodges run BZ$500 to BZ$800 or more; a budget one, as little as BZ$40. A meal in one of the more expensive restaurants will cost BZ$50–BZ$75 for one, but you can eat the classic Creole dish of stew chicken and rice and beans for BZ$8–BZ$10. Prices are highest in Belize City, Ambergris Caye, and the Placencia Peninsula.
Prices throughout are given for adults. Substantially reduced fees are usually available for children and students.
ATMs and Banks
Belize has four Belize-based banks: Atlantic Bank; Heritage Bank, which took over some assets of Caribbean International Bank; the new National Bank of Belize, which has only two offices; and ScotiaBank, which is an independent outpost of the big Canadian bank. Banking hours vary but are typically Monday–Thursday 8–3 and Friday 8–4. There is a branch of Atlantic Bank at the international airport that has longer hours, along with an ATM. Belize Bank has an ATM at the airport. All the banks have ATMs across the country that are open 24/7, although occasionally machines may run out of cash or are out of order.
Your own bank will probably charge a fee for using ATMs abroad, as will the Belize bank ATM. However, extracting funds as you need them is a safer option than carrying around a large amount of cash. That said, machines sometimes are down or out of money. Also, newer ATM cards, especially those with imbedded chips, may not work in some Belize ATMs. As a backup, carry some U.S. currency, a credit card or two, and perhaps a few old-fashioned traveler’s checks.
ATMs in Belize give cash in Belize dollars. There are ATMs in Belize City (including two at the international airport), Ladyville, Corozal Town, Orange Walk Town, San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Belmopan, San Ignacio, Spanish Lookout, Dangriga, Hopkins, Placencia, and Punta Gorda. Most ATMs in Belize have a BZ$500 daily limit, but Atlantic Bank and ScotiaBank have higher limits. Belize Bank's 26 ATMs around the country take ATM cards issued outside Belize on the CIRRUS, MasterCard, PLUS, and Visa networks. Atlantic Bank's 16 ATMs also accept foreign cards on the CIRRUS, MasterCard, PLUS and Visa networks. ScotiaBank’s 14 ATMs around the country also accept foreign-issued ATM cards. Heritage Bank's approximately 20 ATMs (seven credit unions in Belize associated with Heritage Bank also have ATMs) and National Bank of Belize's nine ATMs as of this writing do not accept foreign-issued ATM cards. Other bank offices you see in Belize City or San Pedro are international, offshore banks; they are set up to do business with individuals and companies domiciled outside Belize and do not provide retail banking services in Belize.
In the Petén you can get cash in quetzales from ATMs in Melchor de Mencos, Flores, and Santa Elena. Across the border in Chetumal, Mexico, ATMs usually offer a choice of Mexican pesos or U.S. dollars.
The biggest employer in Belize—the Belize government—pays most employees on the 14th or 15th of the month, and on those days in particular banks in Belize are jammed, with customer lines often snaking around the outside of the building. Banks are also usually busy on Friday.
You should have a four-digit PIN. As noted, some newer ATMs with imbedded computer chips issued outside Belize may not work with all ATMs in Belize. ATM scams—where the ATM "eats" your card or your PIN is stolen—only rarely occur in Belize but are increasingly common in Guatemala. Most banks offer cash advances on credit cards issued by Visa and MasterCard for a fee ranging from BZ$10 to BZ$30.
Atlantic Bank. Atlantic Bank has 15 offices in Belize, including in Corozal, Corozal Free Zone, Orange Walk Town (two offices), Belize City (three offices), Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport, Ladyville, Belmopan, Placencia, San Ignacio, San Pedro, and Caye Caulker. It has 16 ATMs countrywide. Main Office, Corner Freetown Rd. and Cleghorn St., Commercial District, Belize City, Belize District. 223/4123; www.atlabank.com.
Belize Bank. Belize Bank has 12 offices around Belize, in Corozal Town, Corozal Free Zone, Orange Walk Town, Belize City (two offices), Ladyville, Belmopan, San Pedro, San Ignacio, Dangriga, Placencia and Punta Gorda. It has 26 ATMs countrywide. Main Office, 60 Market Sq., Commercial District, Belize City, Belize District. 227/7132; www.belizebank.com.
Heritage Bank. Formerly Alliance Bank, Heritage Bank has 10 offices in Belize, including Orange Walk Town, Belize City (two offices), Belmopan, San Ignacio, Benque Viejo del Carmen, Pomona, Independence and San Pedro. In 2015, Heritage Bank acquired some of the assets of First Caribbean International Bank, which closed its Belize operations. Heritage has more than 20 ATMs countrywide, not including ATMs at seven credit unions with which Heritage is affiliated. Main Office, 106 Princess Margaret Dr., Northern Suburbs, Belize City, Belize District. 223/5698; www.heritageibt.com.
National Bank of Belize. This new bank, founded in 2015, has only two offices, one in Belmopan and one in Belize City. It has a total of nine ATMs around the country. Forest Dr. and Hummingbird Hwy., Belmopan, Cayo. 822/0957; www.nbbl.bz.
ScotiaBank Belize. ScotiaBank Belize is associated with ScotiaBank in Canada. It has 11 offices in Belize, including in Corozal Town, Orange Walk Town, Belize City (two offices), Belmopan, Spanish Lookout, San Ignacio, Dangriga, Placencia, Punta Gorda, and San Pedro. The bank has 14 ATMs countrywide. Main Office, 4 Albert St., Commercial District, Belize City, Belize District. 227/7027; www.scotiabank.com/bz.
Atlantic Bank. Barrier Reef Dr., San Pedro Town, Belize District. 226/2195; www.atlabank.com.
Belize Bank. Belize Bank has a large office on the north end of Barrier Reef Drive and ATMs on Pescador Drive in the center of town, in the Richie's and Island supermarkets, on Coconut Drive, and in the Wings department store. 49 Barrier Reef Dr., San Pedro Town, Belize District. 226/2482; www.belizebank.com.
Heritage Bank. Heritage Bank has an office in San Pedro and also partners with several credit unions in Belize, including St. Francis Xavier Credit Union, which has an office and ATM on Pescador Drive. 33 Barrier Reef Dr., San Pedro Town, Belize District. 226/2136; www.heritageibt.com.
ScotiaBank. 12 Coconut Dr., San Pedro Town, Belize District. 226/3730; www.scotiabank.com/bz.
Atlantic Bank. 4th Ave. and 3rd St. N, Corozal Town, Corozal. 422/3473.
Atlantic Bank Orange Walk. Atlantic Bank also has a second branch in Orange Walk Town on Belize-Corozal Rd. 47 Main St., Orange Walk Town, Orange Walk. 322/1575; www.atlabank.com.
Belize Bank. 5th Ave. at 1st St. North, Corozal Town, Corozal. 422/2087; www.belizebank.com.
ScotiaBank. 4th Ave. at 3rd St., Corozal Town, Corozal. 422/2046.
ScotiaBank Orange Walk. Main St. and Park St., Orange Walk Town, Orange Walk. 322/2194; www.scotiabank.com/bz.
Atlantic Bank. 17 Burns Ave., San Ignacio, Cayo. 824/2347; www.atlabank.com.
Belize Bank. Constitution Dr., at Melhado Dr., Belmopan, Cayo. 822/2303; www.belizebank.com.
Belize Bank. 16 Burns Ave., San Ignacio, Cayo. 824/ 2031; www.belizebank.com.
National Bank of Belize, Ltd.. Forest Dr. and Hummingbird Hwy., Belmopan, Cayo. 822/0957; www.nbbl.bz.
ScotiaBank. Burns Ave. and Riverside St., San Ignacio, Cayo. 824/4191; www.scotiabank.com/bz.
The Southern Coast
Atlantic Bank. Atlantic Bank also has a stand-alone ATM on the Main Street in Placencia village, next to Placencia Office Supplies. Atlantic Bank, Main St., Placencia Village, Stann Creek. 523/3431; www.atlabank.com.
Belize Bank. 24 St. Vincent St., Dangriga, Stann Creek. 522/2903; www.belizebank.com.
Belize Bank. Placencia Point, Main St., Placencia Village, Stann Creek. 523/3144; www.belizebank.com.
ScotiaBank. Main St., Placencia Village, Stann Creek. 523/3277; www.scotiabank.com/bz.
The Deep South
Belize Bank. 30 Main St., at Hospital St., Punta Gorda, Toledo. 722/2324; www.belizebank.com.
ScotiaBank. Prince and Main Sts., Punta Gorda, Toledo. 722/0098; www.scotiabank.com/bz/.
It's a good idea to inform your credit-card company (debit-card companies, too) before you travel, especially if you're going abroad and don't travel internationally very often. Otherwise, the credit-card company might put a hold on your card owing to unusual activity—not a good thing halfway through your trip.
Record all your credit-card numbers—as well as the phone numbers to call if your cards are lost or stolen—in a safe place, so you're prepared should something go wrong. Both MasterCard and Visa have general numbers you can call (collect if you're abroad) if your card is lost, but you're better off calling the number of your issuing bank, since MasterCard and Visa usually just transfer you to your bank; your bank's number is usually printed on your card. If you report a lost or stolen card promptly, you are not responsible for fraudulent charges on your card. You can report lost or stolen cards by phone and, in most cases, online.
In Belize, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted, American Express less so, and Discover and Diner’s hardly at all.
Hotels, restaurants, shops, and tour operators in Belize occasionally levy a surcharge for credit-card use, usually 5% but ranging from 2% to 10%. This practice happily has become less common, but it still happens. If you use a credit card, ask if there's a surcharge. Most credit-card issuers now charge an international exchange fee, usually 2% to 3%, even if the foreign purchase is denominated in U.S. dollars.
Reporting Lost Cards
American Express. 800/327--1267; 954/473–2123; www.americanexpress.com.
MasterCard. MasterCard is widely accepted in Belize and elsewhere in Central America. 800/627–8372; 636/722–7111; www.mastercard.com.
Visa. Visa is the most widely accepted credit card in Belize and elsewhere in Central America. 800/847–2911; 303/967–1096; www.visa.com.
Currency and Exchange
Because the U.S. dollar (bills only, not coins) is gladly accepted everywhere in Belize, there's no need to exchange it. When paying in U.S. dollars, you may get change in Belize or U.S. currency, or in both.
The Belize dollar (BZ$) is pegged to the U.S. dollar at a rate of BZ$2 per US$1, and nearly all shops, stores, hotels, restaurants, and other businesses honor that exchange rate. Note, however, that moneychangers at Belize's Mexico and Guatemala borders operate on a free-market system and pay a rate depending on the demand for U.S. dollars, sometimes as high as BZ$2.15 to US$1. Banks (and ATMs) generally exchange at BZ$1.98 or less.
The best place to exchange Belize dollars for Mexican pesos is in Corozal, or at the Mexico-Belize border where the exchange rate is quite good. At the Guatemala border near Benque Viejo del Carmen, you can exchange Belize or U.S. dollars for quetzales—moneychangers will approach you on the Belize side and also on the Guatemala side. Usually the money changers on the Guatemala side offer better rates.
As of late 2016, the U.S. dollar-Guatemalan quetzal bank exchange rate was about 7.5 quetzales to 1 U.S. dollar; the dollar-Mexican peso exchange rate was about 18.5 Mexican pesos to 1 U.S. dollar.
When leaving Belize, you can exchange Belizean currency back to U.S. dollars (up to US$100) at Atlantic Bank at the international airport. The Belize dollar is difficult if not impossible to exchange outside Belize, even in the neighboring countries of Mexico and Guatemala (except at border crossings).
In Belize most hotel, tour, and car-rental prices are quoted in U.S. dollars, while most restaurant prices, taxis charges, and store prices are in Belize dollars.Belize prices are quoted in Belize dollars. Because misunderstandings can happen, if it's not clear, always ask which currency is being used.
Traveler's checks should be in U.S. dollars, and the American Express brand is preferred. Most hotels and travel operators still accept traveler's checks, and some restaurants and gift shops do. However, even in Belize City and popular tourist areas such as San Pedro, clerks at groceries and other shops may be reluctant to accept traveler's checks or will have to get a supervisor's approval to accept them. Some places charge a small fee, around 1% or 2%, if you pay with a traveler's check. Most banks will cash them for a fee of 1% to 2%, but it may require a wait in line. In all cases, you will need your passport in order to use or cash a traveler's check.