Using Money in the United States
It is strongly recommended that you bring a credit or debit card in your name when you come to Hawai’i. In the U.S., people use credit or debit cards for most purchases. This is for security and convenience reasons. Check with your home bank if your debit or credit card can be used in the U.S. If your card cannot be used in U.S., you can open a bank account in Hilo. Most people do not carry large amounts of cash with them as is common in other counties because credit cards can be used at almost any store or restaurant. Banks provide their account holders with checks that can be used like cash. Most students do not use checks but instead use debit or credit cards or cash.
However, it is a good idea to carry a small amount of cash with you while you are in Hilo. There are certain services that you might have to pay for that accept “cash only.” For example, when you get your UH ID card, put money onto a print card, or ride the public bus, you cannot pay with a debit or credit card—you will have to pay with cash.
Before leaving home, discuss with your parents or other family members how they will send you money. For example, they can deposit money into your bank account or they can send you a check. Be aware that a bank might “hold” a check for a certain number of days before you can access the funds if it from a different bank. And be aware that if you do not open a bank account in Hilo, a bank will only cash a check for a non-customer if the check is issued by that specific bank. In that case, you will need to go to a store to cash a check and you will be charged a fee.