How Much Spending Money for USA?

Whether you’re planning to strut down the Hollywood Walk of Fame, feast on deep-dish pizza in Chicago, or marvel at the neon lights in Times Square, one question is bound to pop up: “How much spending money do I need for the USA?”

So, to help you decide how much spending money you should bring for your USA trip, Crown Currency Exchange is here to give you a comprehensive guide on managing your dollars while exploring the land of the free. Let’s get started!

How much spending money do I need for the US?

Navigating America’s financial landscape is akin to a game of Monopoly. Expensive cities like New York and San Francisco are the Boardwalks, demanding higher stakes, while Memphis and Boise resemble affordable light blue properties. Generally, the South and interior offer better bang for your buck than the North and coasts. Remember, just like Monopoly, your travel style can make or break your budget.

Budget Travellers

If you’re on a budget but have an adventurous spirit, you can explore the country on a modest spend money budget of $60-$90 USD per day. This will cover a cosy hostel bed, self-catered meals, and the trusty city bus. It leaves room for free thrills like urban walking tours, nature hikes, or basking on the beach. If you fancy a local brew or two, set aside an extra $5-$15 USD daily.

Mid-range Travellers

For those who prefer a bit more comfort and convenience, a mid-range budget of around $230 USD per day should suffice. This allows you to upgrade to private Airbnb lodgings or comfy motels, indulge in local cuisine, and swap the bus pass for the occasional taxi. You’ll also have some leftover change for museum entrance fees, foodie tours, and immersing yourself in the heart of local culture.

Luxury Travellers

And for the jet-setters among us who crave nothing but the finest, a daily allowance of $400 USD (or more) will ensure you travel in style. This budget affords you the luxury of top-tier hotels, dining at gourmet eateries, and sipping cocktails in upscale bars. You can even rent a car for easy cruising and partake in all the guided tours your heart desires. And remember, this is just the base level for luxury – if you want to splash out even more, the sky’s the limit!

These are just guidelines. Your final budget will depend largely on your destination and personal travel style. Whether you’re exploring the bustling streets of New York or the tranquil landscapes of Boise, there’s a budget to fit every traveller.

You can visit Numbeo for a comprehensive list of estimated costs in various cities and states. This useful resource will surely help you decide how much spending money to spend on your USA trip.

What goes into a travel budget?

Crafting a successful travel budget requires careful consideration of all potential expenses. Whether you’re planning an adventurous backpacking trip or a relaxing getaway, it’s crucial to account for every cost. Here are some key components to factor into your budget:

  • Transportation: This includes flights, local transit, payment for car rental companies, taxis, and fuel costs.
  • Accommodation: From budget hostels to luxury hotels, or even camping gear, if you’re going the rustic route.
  • Food: Consider the cost of dining out, groceries for self-catering, and those irresistible street food snacks.
  • Tourist Activities: Costs can range from museum entry fees to adventure sports expenses.
  • Clothing and Equipment: Depending on your destination, you might need new swimwear, hiking boots, or a sturdy suitcase.

Remember, in the U.S., each state plays by its own tax rates. This can add a surprising twist to your checkout total. So, make sure to factor these financial curveballs into your budget.

What is the cost of accommodation in the USA?

When planning a trip to the United States, one of the most significant factors to consider is accommodation. The cost of lodging can vary widely based on your location and your preferred level of comfort and amenities.

  • Budget Travellers: For budget travellers, expect to pay around $40-$60 USD per night for a hostel dorm room.
  • Mid-range Travellers: You can expect to pay between $100-$150 USD per night for a 3-star hotel.
  • Luxury Travellers: You can expect to pay $200 USD or more per night for 4-5 star hotels.

Different accommodation options

  • Hotels: Hotel prices in the US range from $90-$212 USD per night. Standard rooms include a private bathroom, TV, refrigerator, and sometimes a complimentary breakfast. For added comfort, upgrade to a luxury hotel with amenities like pools, spas and gyms.
  • Hostels: They are available in most major cities, with a dorm bed typically costing between $40-$60 USD per night. Private rooms in hostels can range from $110-$140 USD. Prices may be higher in bigger cities or during peak season.
  • Camping: For those who enjoy the great outdoors, camping is a cost-effective option, with basic tent plots for two starting at around $8- $24 USD per night.
  • Motels: For the road-trippers, motels are your haven. These roadside establishments offer basic comforts like TV, Wi-Fi, and air conditioning for a wallet-friendly $55-$80.
  • Airbnb: Private rooms start at $50 but often double that on average. For an entire home or apartment, budget at least $120, with large cities likely demanding double.

Accommodation costs can vary widely across the United States, so it’s always a good idea to check specific city guides for more detailed information.

Our money-saving tips for accommodation costs:

  1. Consider booking your accommodation well in advance.
  2. Look for deals and discounts online.
  3. Consider staying in a hostel or renting an apartment if you’re travelling on a budget.

What is the cost of food in the USA?

American cuisine is a smorgasbord of flavours, with regional specialties adding an extra pinch of delight. Whether your palate yearns for New England seafood, southern BBQ, or west coast kale smoothies, there’s a culinary adventure waiting.

  • Quick Eats: Sandwiches for on-the-go meals typically cost around $4-$7 USD, while fast food combo budget meal costs roughly $8-$10 USD.
  • Casual Dining: Expect to spend between $30-$40 USD for a meal and drink at mid-range restaurants. A three-course meal with a drink can start at $65 USD, with prices increasing for high-end dining.
  • Takeout: Pizzas generally cost around $12-$18 USD, while main dishes from Chinese and Thai takeouts start at about $8-$15 USD.
  • Drinks: Expect to shell out between $5-$12 for beers and wines, $10-$15 for cocktails, and about $5-$6 for a latte or cappuccino. Hydration via bottled water? Approximately $1.75.
  • Groceries: Prefer playing chef? Budget about $55-$70 per week for grocery basics like rice, pasta, veggies, and some protein.

Remember, these are ballpark figures. Prices can swing, especially in larger cities, but this should give you a good taste of what to expect when budgeting for food in the USA.

Our money-saving tips for food costs:

  1. Consider eating at local markets or food trucks for cheap and authentic meals.
  2. Limit fine dining at expensive restaurants.
  3. Buy snacks and bottled water from local grocery stores.

What is the cost of transport in the USA?

The United States vast and diverse landscape means transportation options can vary greatly depending on your location. Here’s a snapshot of what to expect:

  • City Transportation: Most U.S. cities offer public transportation, including metro systems and buses. Single journey fares typically cost around $2-$3 USD, but visitor packages are available for more extensive travel. For instance, a 7-day unlimited MetroCard in New York City costs $33 USD, covering both buses and subway.
  • Taxis: Metered and a tad pricier, taxis start around $3 plus $0.70 per 1/5 mile.
  • Ridesharing: Services like Uber and Lyft are generally cheaper than taxis and offer a convenient alternative if you’re not up for public transport.
  • Buses: Long-distance bus travel is a budget-friendly option, with fares starting as low as $1 USD when booked in advance. Companies like MegaBus, FlixBus, and Greyhound offer services across the country.
  • Flights: Flying is the quickest option for long distances. While fares have increased post-COVID, deals can still be found with budget-friendly airlines like JetBlue Airways, Frontier, Spirit Airlines, and Southwest Airlines.
  • Trains: Amtrak’s rail services aren’t the quickest or cheapest, but their $499 cross-country pass offers 30 days of travel over ten segments.
  • Car Hire: Starting around $35, car rentals are ideal for road trips, offering the freedom to explore at leisure.

Our money-saving tips for transport costs:

  1. Consider using public transportation whenever possible so you can save money.
  2. Share rides with fellow travellers when using taxis or rideshares.
  3. Rent a smaller, fuel-efficient budget car or mid-range car if you’re planning on driving.

What is the cost of activities in the USA?

Activity costs can vary significantly depending on what you plan to do. Here’s a sneak peek:

  • Statue of Liberty: $12 for kids (4-12), $24.50 for adults, and $18 for seniors (62+).
  • Grand Canyon Tours: A wide range from $20 to a whopping $2,500 per person, depending on the tour type.
  • Broadway Shows in NYC: Tickets dance between $20-$145, with premium seats for hit shows commanding more.
  • Baseball Games: Prices usually start under $36 and can swing over $140, depending on the team and venue.
  • Disneyland Day: Ranging from $98-$155 for kids (3-9) and $104-$164 for those ages 10 and up, based on ticket tier.
  • Smithsonian Museums in D.C.: Admission is free, like the best things in life.
  • Alcatraz Island: Adults and juniors (12-17) pay $41, children (5-11) $25, seniors (62+) $38.65, and a family pass (2 adults, 2 kids) costs $119.60.
  • Everglades National Park: Entry is $30.
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame: It’s free to walk among the stars.
  • NBA Games: Standard tickets are around $85-$95, while VIP or meet-and-greet passes can shoot between $400-$27,000.

With myriad activities and national parks, you can expect to shell out anything from a handful of dollars to several hundred, depending on your adventure appetite.

Our money-saving tips for activities:

  1. Search for free or discounted days for attractions.
  2. Consider purchasing city passes that offer access to multiple attractions.
  3. Plan and book activities in advance to secure better deals.

Other expenses to consider for the trip

Don’t forget these extra line items on your budget spreadsheet:

  • Travel Insurance: An absolute must-have to shield you from unforeseen hiccups, be it health scares, trip cancellations or lost luggage.
  • Visa Fees: You may need a visa to enter the country, depending on your nationality. Stay updated on the current regulations and costs.
  • Vaccinations: While the US doesn’t mandate specific jabs, a quick chat with your doc wouldn’t hurt, just to be safe.
  • Tipping: When in the States, budget an extra 15%-20% for services like dining, cab rides, and hotel staff.
  • Souvenirs: Who doesn’t love a keepsake? Be it a kitschy postcard or a hipster tee, factor in some dollars for mementos.
  • Emergency Funds: Always keep rainy day travel money for those “just in case” moments.
  • Connectivity: Consider the cost of a local SIM or data plan to ensure you’re always just a click away from your Insta followers.

What is the most cost-effective way to take USD to the US?

Exchanging your AUD for USD before you leave is usually the most cost-effective option. Visit our AUD to USD page for more information.


Will I need cash for my visit to the US?

Absolutely! While cards are widely accepted, cash can be helpful for tipping or in places that don’t accept cards.

Which currency is used in the USA?

United States Dollar (USD).

Is the USA considered an expensive destination?

The USA can be as expensive or as inexpensive as you make it. With proper planning and budgeting, an affordable American escapade is definitely achievable.

The content of this article is general and provided for information purposes only. Crown Currency Exchange (CCE) doesn’t guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness or currency of the articles.

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