The Cook Islands currency is the New Zealand dollar, supplemented by a limited volume of Cook Islands notes and coins intended for local use, and as collector's items.  The local coins and bills are truly beautiful, but are not negotiable outside the Cook Islands.  There are two international trading banks in downtown Avarua on Rarotonga. 

Bank of the South Pacific (BSP) and ANZ on Rarotonga, are open Monday-Friday 9am-3pm (until 4pm on Friday at ANZ), with BSP being open on Saturday mornings between 9am and noon.   Western Union for currency exchange and money transfers is available in Avarua.  There are ATM machines on both Rarotonga and Aitutaki.  Both BSP and ANZ bank have agencies in Aitutaki.  Most travellers exchange a small amount of cash for daily incidentals such as food, sundries and souvenirs.  EFTPOS is available at a number of the larger trading outlets around Rarotonga, for account holders who bank within the Cook Islands only. 

MasterCard and Visa credit cards are widely accepted at most larger shops and restaurants for a minimum purchase of $20.  Remember to check with your card company to find out how much their conversion rate will be for credit card purchases or withdrawals.  It would also pay to check what service fees your card company charges. AMEX cards are not currently accepted.

Some merchants, including accommodation providers and restaurants, are imposing a surcharge for payment by credit card. This is against local banking regulations and should be challenged. If a charge is imposed a complaint can be made to one of the local banks - BSP or ANZ - who will investigate the complaint and contact the offending merchant.

One thing to note is that the largest trader on Rarotonga will not accept credit cards for sale items being sold. Something to watch out for during local shopping sprees! One of Rarotonga's popular restaurants now only accepts cash. It would pay to check before booking.

For Rarotonga, there are numerous ATM's dotted around the island in all the main villages.  These can be found outside major stores, and also in Avarua there are several ATMs outside the trading banks and shops. A BSP ATM is located outside the Arrivals terminal at the international airport.

On Aitutaki, BSP and ANZ banks both have ATM machines that accept international cards. ANZ's ATM is located near the Aitutaki Pacific Resort, with BSP bank being situated at Arutanga, the main island centre.  If your card is not a BSP card, their ATM may charge a fixed fee regardless of the amount withdrawn. The ANZ ATM will give you your acount balance in NZ dollars, while BSP's ATM will provide your account balance in your home currency. Banks on Aitutaki are open 9am - 3pm Mon - Fri. BSP is closed from noon to 1 PM.