United States Dollar - USD

United States of America

It is referred to as a buck and a bill, and perhaps more famously the greenback. Whatever you happen to call it there is no doubt the American dollar is the most powerful currency in the world. It is one of the most famous too – everyone knows about the US dollar.

There are many other nicknames for this currency, some of which (the bean and the smacker for example) are not as well known. This currency is used by millions of people every single day.

What coins and notes are available for this currency?

There are six coin values in total – the one cent, five cent, ten cent and twenty five cent coins, and the fifty cent coin and dollar coin. There are also seven dollar denominations - $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. The $2 bill isn’t often seen in circulation.

The banknotes are famous for featuring former American Presidents on the front. Indeed the notes are sometimes referred to by the surname of the appropriate President appearing on them. George Washington appears on the one dollar note, whereas the rarely seen two dollar note features Thomas Jefferson. Abraham Lincoln appears on the $5 note, while Alexander Hamilton can be found on the $10 note. Andrew Jackson is on the $20 note, Ulysses S Grant features on the $50 and finally Benjamin Frankling can be found adorning the $100 note. This explains one of the more controversial nicknames for the dollar notes – Dead Presidents.

From past to present – the history of the dollar

We have to go back more than two hundred years to 1792 to find the first instance of US dollars being minted by the United States Mint. They had a lot in common with the Spanish dollar, which had been used in the US for the preceding 17 years. Once the US dollar was created however, the Spanish dollar very soon fell out of favour. America’s new currency was born and it was all set to be a big success.

Over time different denominations of coins and notes have appeared. The dollar has also been pegged to the gold standard in the past. Originally it was said to be worth 371.25 grains of silver. The gold standard – ensuring the dollar was always backed by gold – was in use until as recently as 1968. Since then the currency has played an active part on the currency markets, and is no longer backed by any precious metal. This means it is now a fiat currency.

It is also the main reserve currency in the world. Governments around the world have chosen the US dollar above all other currencies to keep stockpiled in case they should need it. However it has had some competition from the relatively new Euro currency which was introduced in 2002. Some people think the Euro may eventually displace the US dollar. This is a situation that is hard to believe but could well occur. Only time will tell if the US dollar will lose its lofty position.

How to get hold of US dollars

As you might expect it is incredibly easy to get hold of US dollars when the need arises. You can do so online for convenience if you wish, although it is always best to make sure the website you choose to deal with is professional, genuine and competitive in price. You can also get hold of dollars at bureaux de change in many locations, including major cities and airports. You can usually turn up and request to exchange your existing currency for the US dollar providing you don’t want too much on the spot. However it is usually best to pre-order and then arrange to collect it. In the case of getting your dollars online, you can usually request a secure delivery to your door instead if you wish.

You should always shop around for the best deals though – don’t automatically use the first service you find. Different businesses charge different rates so make sure you can always get the most value for your money.

How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the US dollar

It’s easy to find out the basic exchange rate between your usual currency and the American dollar. Simply use our currency converter to make the calculation in a few quick clicks.

Bear in mind this will give you an updated rate on how much one currency is worth against the US dollar. It isn’t able to provide the rates that will be charged by currency exchange services. However it will give you a rough idea to go on and you can then go ahead and start looking for bureaux de change online to use. It’s good to have a starting point that reveals just how far the dollar might go when you buy yours for your holiday or trip to America.

Travelling safely with US dollars

If you watch the news you would be forgiven for thinking America is crime ridden and a dangerous place to visit as a tourist. However this is unfair as it tars the whole country with the same brush. Yes, there are areas you should be careful in and it makes sense to take the same basic personal precautions you would if you were at home. But there is no need to assume the entire country is a dangerous place to be.

Wherever you go in the US, stay alert to your surroundings at all times. Don’t carry any more dollars on you than you need to, and think about keeping them in different places. For example you could keep a few in your wallet, some in your pocket and some in a jacket or money belt. Criminals like easy marks and if they see you walking down the street with a wad of dollars in your hand they’re likely to take advantage of it. The same applies to anything else of value you may have.

Obviously it makes sense to plan your trip in America and to see whether there are any areas you may want to avoid while you are there. For example many parts of New York are absolutely unmissable but there are certain areas that you’d be better off avoiding if you are a tourist. The same applies to almost every location on the planet though, so try to keep things in context.

Some areas are known for having problems. For example Central Park in New York did have an issue with crime, but this seems to have been successfully tackled in recent years. The most important thing to remember is not to stand up to a mugger if you are unlucky and someone wants to bag your dollars. It is much safer to let them have whatever you have than get injured in the process.

You can find out more about the US courtesy of their website at http://www.usembassy.gov/.

Where to spend your dollars in America – and what to spend them on

Visiting America as a tourist is a wonderful experience. There are the major cities to explore – think of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia among others – and you have plenty of specific places you may like to go too. Would you like to visit the Las Vegas Strip? How about the Florida Keys? Yellowstone National Park is a big draw, as is Niagara Falls. It’s best to plan ahead and think about where you would like to go so you can book your trip and budget for the amount of dollars you are likely to need while you are away.

Sometimes you can make good savings by booking to enter tourist attractions in advance. In addition some major cities offer discounted deals on tickets that allow you to visit more than one attraction. You might have to book these online before you travel, but they can save you a lot of money.

The best course of action is to plan the kind of holiday you want too. Do you want to spend your dollars on hiking equipment or bike hire so you can explore some of the best natural sights America has to offer? Maybe you want to book into one of the best hotels at Walt Disney World Florida to enjoy the holiday of a lifetime exploring all the rides and attractions.

When you’re in the United States of America the choice is yours – and there are plenty of things to spend your dollars on.

Conclusion

America is one of the world’s leading and best known countries. It is very powerful and when you consider the relatively short length of its history it does give you something to think about.

Some people love America while others have no desire ever to visit it. However unless you go and see parts of it for yourself it is impossible to form a decision. Many have said it is a country with vast contrasts between states, and nothing could be truer than this.

The dollar can open the door to many fine experiences, purchases and memories when used in America.

 

Comment

  1. The US certainly is an amazing place – I’d love to visit but since the pound has weakened and doesn’t get you so many US dollars any more, I’ve had to postpone my plans.

    I bet this is hitting the US tourist industry! I think a lot of people will be postponing holidays and saving up until they can get a lot more dollars again before they go. But hey, it gives me time to think about where in America I’d like to go. It’ll have to be a long trip with lots of dollars for me to do it properly! What do other people think?

    — Ben · Apr 27, 09:52 AM · #

  2. Yes I must admit I am sold on America as well. I just can’t afford to go at the moment. I would love to visit New York. I know everyone says it’s dangerous but that is the number one destination for me. The usual suspects – California and that area of America – are also on my list, just a bit further down!

    I think that is one of the reasons why so many people love it. The country is so big it has a myriad of different places, towns and cities for everyone to enjoy. You’d be mad not to find somewhere you’d want to go to.

    — JamieK · Aug 19, 02:35 PM · #

  3. I know I commented on this page before, but does anyone know how long the US dollar has been the number one reserve currency? I know the British pound used to hold that position, but when did that change? And was any other currency in that position between those two?

    A lot of people reckon the US dollar will give up that position before too long. The Euro is often thought of as being the one that will take its place, but I don’t think it will happen for years, if at all. What does everyone else think? Am I right?

    — JamieK · Oct 13, 11:09 AM · #

  4. This is a good review of the US dollar. I was prompted to comment because there are a few news stories around at the moment where people believe the currency could be about to fall to bits. I wonder if the dollar really could fall in this way. People have pointed to various events and the instability of the US at the moment as being potential causes. I will be watching to see whether it really could happen.

    — TKL · Mar 23, 09:35 AM · #

  5. I wonder what state the US dollar will be in during the next few days if the US government doesn’t come to some kind of agreement on its debt. I find it amazing that it can keep on raising the bar anyway. Imagine if we all tried to do that with our personal debts! One rule for governments and currencies and another one for the rest of us I suppose. Oh well we shall see.

    — Ian · Jul 29, 01:29 PM · #