Money & Shopping
One of the best spots in the Colonial District of Santo Domingo to shop is the several blocks long outdoor mall, El Conde Street. It offers everything from street vendors (it is not recommended to eat off these) to knock-off name brand clothing for extremely inexpensive prices. There are some very pleasant outdoor restaurants that serve as perfect spots to people watch and drink Presidente (their most popular beer).
During the day, there are also several touristy shops where you can buy cheap presents for the family back home including authentic paintings and beautiful jewelry. There is also a very nice cigar shop at the end of the mall across from the cathedral. Clothes, however, are generally very economical and often of good quality. Most prices can be negotiated. US dollars are accepted in most areas.
The Dominican currency is the Dominican Peso (DOP). As of February 2016, the exchange rate was 45.72 DOP/$1 USD.
At airports and harbors you can change your US dollars and euros in Dominican Pesos, though the rates there are not great. It makes sense to get only as many pesos as necessary there and change more later on at your destination or to just withdraw pesos from an ATM with your credit- or debit-card. Note that you may not be able to exchange back Dominican Pesos to US dollars and Euros in most countries, so do it before leaving.
In most cities one can find a Banco Popular and Scotiabank - their ATMs allow withdrawals with Visa, Mastercard and Maestro. They usually impose a very low limit but allow several withdrawals at once. Even though it is possible to withdraw money in the bank directly, most will flatly refuse this and point one at their ATMs. Unless one is very proficient in Spanish and willing to fight this out with the staff one has to obey (and thus pay a fee for every withdrawal - between DOP100 and DOP200). Depending on the season the limits change - in high season the limits are higher, in low season they go lower. It always makes sense to try a value that ends in 900 if the 1000 don't work (e.g. if 4000 is over the limit, try 3900 first before trying 3000).