Currency in the US - A Full Guide 2024

Claire Millard
Şeyma Mektepli
Last updated
12 April 2024

Planning a trip to the US? Whether you’re heading there for work or pleasure, you’ll need to know how to pay your way as you travel.

This guide covers all you’ll need to know about the official currency in the US, where to get it and how to keep your costs down during your trip.

What is the currency in the US?

The official currency in the US is the US Dollar, which is issued and overseen by the US Federal Reserve. If you’re buying your travel money online you may also see the official code being shown - USD. In stores and restaurants, US Dollar prices are likely to use the currency symbol $.

Once you’re in the US you’ll see costs of items shown in USD and you’ll need to start paying for things in local coins and notes which are often found in the following denominations:

banknotes - 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and coins - 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢, $1.

Can you officially pay in MYR when you are in the US?

You’re unlikely to be able to officially transact in MYR in the US, which is why it’s time to start getting used to USD and learning more about the currency exchange rates so you’ll know what you’re spending on your trip.

This guide will walk through all you need to know, including Malaysian ringgit/US Dollar rates and where best to get your travel money from.

US Dollar
Currency nameUS Dollar
ISO codeUSD
Symbol$
SubunitPenny
Central BankUS Federal Reserve
Best travel cards to take to the USWise

USD coins and banknotes

Here’s a full rundown of the USD coins and banknotes you’ll need to be familiar with when you’re in the US.

USD banknotesUSD coins
banknotes - 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100banknotes - 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100

History of US Dollar currency

Established in 1792, the U.S. Dollar is one of the world's most traded and recognized currencies, backed by the U.S. economy and government.

Is MYR accepted in the US?

As we’ve seen, the official currency in the US is USD. If you carry MYR with you on your trip, you’ll probably need to exchange it before you can spend.

Sometimes when you’re away on a trip abroad you’ll find that merchants will take payments in a selection of major foreign currencies. However, the chances are that where this is offered, you won’t get a good exchange rate for your MYR. Planning smart and convenient ways to spend in USD when you’re away is likely to mean you save on costs in the end.

Usually, having a few different ways to pay and get cash is the best option for travelers and tourists. That’s because you’ll have a back up plan in case one payment method isn’t accepted for any reason, and you can pick the method that’s best suited to the specific transaction. Having a multi-currency card from a provider like Wise, plus your normal bank debit card, and some local cash in USD should mean you’ve always got options. You can use your cash for small purchases and tipping, and make low cost payments and cash withdrawals with your multi-currency card, while keeping your bank card in reserve for emergencies.

Use a travel card on your next trip to the US

Using a travel debit card in the US is usually cheap, safe and convenient. A few providers in New Zealand offer multi-currency cards which come with a linked payment account that lets you convert, hold and spend in USD. That allows you to add a balance in MYR and switch over to USD to lock in the exchange rate and set your travel budget.

Once you have USD in your account there are no extra fees to make payments, and you’ll not have foreign transaction charges to worry about, either.

Here’s a quick overview of a couple of handy travel debit cards you may want to order and use in the US.

Wise travel card

Order a Wise travel card online or in the Wise app, to hold and exchange 40+ currencies and manage your money from your phone. You’ll be able to spend conveniently in USD - and all currency exchange uses the mid-market rate with no markup.

Card holders get some free ATM withdrawals available every month, and there’s no annual or monthly fees to pay, and no minimum balance requirement.

Read a full Wise review here

Go to Wise
Wise prosWise cons

✅ Currency exchange uses the mid-market rate

✅ No foreign transaction fees apply

✅ Free to hold and spend 40+ currencies

✅ Receive payments to your Wise account in a selection of global currencies

✅ No minimum balance or ongoing fees


❌ Card order fee applies

❌ ATM fees apply once you’ve exhausted your free monthly withdrawals 

What is the currency exchange rate for MYR 1 MYR/USD?

It’s helpful to get to know the live MYR/USD rate so you can easily calculate how much things are costing you while you’re on your trip abroad. The rate you need to focus on is the mid market rate, which is the one banks and major currency services get when buying and selling currencies. This rate isn’t always passed on to customers. Instead you may find that the MYR/USD rate you get when exchanging travel cash includes a markup - an extra fee.

Find the MYR/USD mid-market rate from a currency conversion site or a website like this, so you can keep an eye on the market and compare the rates you’re offered as you travel against the mid-market rate easily. Right now, the mid-market rate for 1 Malaysian Ringgit to USD is 0.19629.

Should I exchange MYR to USD before traveling to the US?

Because the US sees many tourists from New Zealand every year you might find you’re better off if you exchange your currency when you get to the US rather than worrying about getting your cash sorted out before you leave.

Get familiar with the exchange rates offered locally to you, and online, so you can decide whether it’s worth switching some funds in advance of travel, using a card to pay while you’re away, or converting cash on arrival. Both in New Zealand and in the US, steer clear of exchanging currency at the airport. A captive market means that MYR/USD rates are often worse in the airport than in city centers.

Tips for exchanging money in the US

Cards are widely accepted in the US, but you’ll still need to watch the exchange rate given when making a transaction from MYR to USD. Some merchants offer to let you pay in MYR instead of USD, but this will usually mean paying more because of dynamic currency conversion costs.

Best place to exchange currency in the US

You can get your USD in the US in a couple of ways.

You’ll be able to use a travel debit card from a provider like Wise to make convenient payments and cash withdrawals and to convert funds online.

Or if you prefer an offline solution you can carry some cash in MYR to exchange when you arrive. Currency exchange providers are often in airports and hotels, although the exchange shops in a city center are likely to be cheaper overall.

How to pay in the US?

You’ll need to have USD to spend in the US. However, generally having a few different payment methods is a good plan. That means that if a merchant won't accept one, you’ve got a back up. It’s also reassuring to know you have a different way to pay if you were unlucky enough to have a card or some travel cash stolen. Here are your key payment options in the US.

1. Debit or credit card

Card payments can be helpful in shops, restaurants and hotels but there will be places where cash is also important. Order a travel card from a provider like Wise for cheap and fast transactions, including card payments and cash withdrawals as and when you need travel money in USD.

2. USD cash

  • Cash is widely used in the US, so it’s worth having some with you at all times. You may want to exchange money to USD before you leave, but it’s also usually convenient to make ATM withdrawals locally once you arrive in the US.

  • You’ll usually find you can use a card to make payments in the US, but carrying some cash in USD is also reassuring. It’s often easier for tipping and making smaller purchases, plus you’ve got a nice backup if your card is ever out of action for some reason.

  • It’s a smart idea to have both a card and some cash in USD when you’re in the US. Some merchants will prefer cash, but having a card for higher value payments and in busier more tourist places is also convenient. Consider using a travel card from a provider like Wise or Revolut alongside your cash for flexibility.

Paying for the trip in MYR

If you’re paying for things in the US with a MYR bank card you might find a foreign transaction fee is added. This pushes up your costs when you spend in a foreign currency, and can be tricky to calculate.

Travel debit cards don’t always work this way. When you make purchases in the US using the Wise card you can either choose to convert your account balance to USD in advance in the Wise app, or just leave your balance in MYR and let the card handle the transaction when you pay. You’ll always get the lowest available fee and there are no extra foreign transaction charges.

Conclusion - Currency in the US

You won’t be able to pay in MYR when you visit the US - so learning about the currency you need is essential. Whether you decide to use a travel debit card from a service like Wise , or stock up on USD in cash in advance, knowing the mid-market exchange rate can help you get the best available deal. Use this guide to learn all you need to know about the options, rates and fees for exchanging MYR to USD, and make your money go further while you’re away.

The official currency in the US is USD. You can’t usually pay in MYR in the US, so you’ll need to plan in advance to get your travel money sorted. Consider ordering a travel debit card from a service like Wise, for low cost conversions to USD and convenient spending and withdrawals - and remember that knowing the MYR to USD mid-market exchange rate is essential to check you’re getting a fair deal on currency exchange.

FAQ - Currency in the US

What is the currency in the US called?

The official currency in the US is the US Dollar. You may also see the code USD and the currency symbol $.

What's the currency in Washington, D.C.?

The official currency in Washington, D.C. is the US Dollar. You’ll only be able to spend in USD while you’re there.

What is the old the US currency?

Today the currency in the US is the US Dollar. If you’re worried about currencies changing, why not get a travel debit card from a service like Wise which will automatically pick the currency needed in your destination when making a payment - with no penalties or inflated fees.

What is the best currency to take to the US?

You’ll only be able to spend in USD while you’re in the US. Carrying some money in cash and using a travel debit card from a service like Wise is usually the best way to spend while you’re away from home.