The United States spans six time zones, four on mainland USA and then Alaska and Hawaii also operate on their own time zones. They are :
- Central Daylight Time (5 hours behind GMT)
- Mountain Daylight Time (6 hours behind GMT)
- Mountain Standard Time (7 hours behind GMT)
- Pacific Daylight Time (7 hours behind GMT)
- Alaska Daylight Time (8 hours behind GMT)
- Hawaii-Aleutian time (10 hours behind GMT)
The US also observes daylight savings time during the summer, although not all states observe it.
The currency is the US Dollar (USD) and notes are available in one, five, ten, 20, 50 or 100 dollar denominations. Coins are in one, five, ten, 25 and 50 cents.
Banks are generally open Monday to Thursday from 09:00 to 16:00 or 17:00, and on Friday until 17:00 or 18:00. In big cities, there are banks open on Saturday morning. To withdraw cash, ATMs are widely available (and offer the best exchange rates.
Credit and debit cards are widely accepted across the country although chip and pin is a surprisingly new concept… don’t be alarmed if a waiter disappears with your card and returns with a receipt for you to sign. Even if you have pre-paid for your hotel, many will ask for a copy of your credit card upon your arrival.
Electricity and plugs
The voltage in the US is between 110 and 115 volts so be careful with any appliances you wish to take, although many have the option to reduce the voltage. The US uses both Type A and B plugs so be sure to take an adapter.
Shops are generally open Monday to Saturday, from 10:00 to 18:00. Malls are often open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 21:00, and Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00. Many supermarkets are open 24 hours, seven days a week.
The press in the US is perhaps the most developed in the world; most cities will have their own daily newspapers and there are several national dailies to choose from. The Wall Street Journal is a great business daily while The LA Times, Washington Post, New York Post, New York Times and Boston Globe are some of the biggest general news outlets.
TV is, however, the biggest media form in the USA, with many of its shows exported internationally. Live television is, however, on the decline in the US and it is the frontrunner in on demand television.
There are over 10,000 commercial radio stations in the US. Although the US is renowned for the freedom of its press, over the last couple of years it’s media has become undoubtedly more polarised politically, with most new programmes and channels increasingly adhering to a particular political standpoint.
Post offices are generally open Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 17:00. Some open on Saturday from 09:00 to 12:00, and in the big cities you can sometimes find an office open 24 hours a day. The stamps are on sale in post offices.
To phone the USA from the UK, add 00 1 to the front of the number you’re dialling (removing the first zero from the number you’re dialling). To call the UK from the USA, use 00 44 before dialling the number (again, without the first zero). If you’re phoning a different state within the US, often you will need to dial 00 1 and then the area code. Making calls from hotels can be very expensive and is much cheaper to do so from public telephones.
Internet and Mobile Coverage
WiFi, 4G and mobile coverage is excellent across America.