Panama has 2 official currencies:
- The Panama Balboa
- The US dollar.
- The Balboa and Dollar have the same value. 1 US$ =1B/
- The Balboa is only available in coins. For notes, only US dollars are used.
- If you are from the US obviously you won't have to exchange money. It's important to carry notes of small denominations. $5, 10, and 20 notes are easily accepted in many places. Most small scale traders won't accept $100 note. They usually claim to be low on change.
- To avoid unnecessary ATM charges (ATM withdrawal fee+ withdrawal overseas fee) just carry cash if you are from the US.
Scam alert: Watch out for scammers who will ask to exchange your money for you in Panama City. If you have dollars they'll take that money away from you and give you money that's totally useless in Panama.
- The maximum daily ATM withdrawal limit is $500. Banks in Panama charge $5.25 for withdrawals.
Note: You are given US dollars when you withdraw cash from ATMs in Panama.
- For tourists who have to exchange currency, major banks are the best places to do it. Scotia Bank, Global bank, Banco de Panama, and Banco general are some of the best options.
- Credit cards and debit cards are accepted in most places in Panama City. Only a few places accept AMEX cards though.
- Outside Panama City, most shops and restaurants won't accept payment using cards even though they put logos indicating that they do.
- Panamian coins (Balboas) look the same as US coins, they won't be accepted in the US though. It's very difficult to exchange these coins outside Panama and you'll probably have lots of them by the time you want to exit Panama. Make sure you exchange them to dollars before you leave.