Colombian Currency

If you travel to Colombia, you will have to exchange money to obtain the country’s legal currency, the Colombian Peso. U.S. Dollars or Euros won’t be accepted. Although credit cards are accepted in major cities and stores, you must have cash if you travel to small towns. If you are visiting Colombia for the first time, you may find getting used to the new currency challenging. 

Colombian bills come in the following amounts:

  • $1,000
  • $2,000
  • $5,000
  • $10,000
  • $20,000
  • $50,000
  • $100,000

Colombian coins come in the following amounts:

  • $50
  • $100
  • $200
  • $500
  • $1,000

While it is true that the U.S. Dollars and Euros (bills and coins) don’t come in such high denominations as in Colombia, it is essential to familiarize yourself with these higher numbers in Spanish and get comfortable with the currency exchange.

Another critical thing to remember is to carry smaller bills as it can be challenging to get change for bills over $50,000 COP in small towns and little shops. 

Be sure to pay close attention to the bills, as some are very similar and can cause you to use the wrong denomination. For example, the $1,000 COP bill is often confused with the $10,000 COP bill as they are similar in color. 

In regards to coins, the easiest way to remember is that the bigger the coin is in size, the more it is worth. 

Periods replace commas

When you are shopping, pay close attention to the prices as in Colombia periods replace commas when it comes to numbers. For example the price $20,000 will be displayed as $20.000. 

What is currency exchange?

A currency exchange is a legal and legitimate company that helps people exchange money from one country for money from another country.

Exchange rates vary depending on many reasons, including political and economic factors. While exchange rates change daily and sometimes by the hour, you can get an idea of what to expect by checking online or at your local bank.

Some US banks will let you order your foreign currency (money) online.  

Bank of America Foreign Currency Ordering: If you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client, you’ll receive a discount off the published exchange rate as well as no fee on standard shipping ($7.50 value) with all orders placed in Online Banking or through the Mobile Banking app.

Wells Fargo Foreign Currency Ordering: As you start your trip, having local currency on hand lets you easily cover immediate expenses without needing to hunt down a currency exchange office. On your return, we can often buy back unused foreign currency cash at a Wells Fargo branch. We offer more than 70 currencies available for use in over 100 countries. Note: Our branches no longer have foreign currency cash on-hand available for over-the-counter same-day purchases. with all orders placed in Online Banking or through the Mobile Banking app.

Us Bank: Traveling to a foreign country requires planning and preparation. Make one of your to-do items easier. Log in to your U.S. Bank checking or savings account and order your foreign currency in advance

Should you exchange money before you get to Colombia?

That depends on your comfort level. Before traveling to any foreign country, I like to exchange a small amount of money at my local bank here in the U.S. Over years of traveling, I have learned that travel day can be chaotic and could include a lot of unexpected situations. So, by exchanging a small amount beforehand, I can be sure to have cash in case I don’t get a chance to exchange money right away. Then, I can exchange more once I am settled in the new country.  

What do I need to exchange money?

To exchange money, you will need cash and a form of identification. Alternatively, you can use your ATM card to withdraw cash from an ATM. The ATM will figure out the current exchange rate, but you will probably have to pay fees for using the card overseas. So it’s worth checking with your bank before you go. 

Where can I exchange money in Colombia?

Most tourists feel more comfortable exchanging money at the airport or hotel. Although they are safe locations to exchange money, the exchange rates tend to be higher due to the convenience offered to the traveler. In big cities, it is easy to find exchange offices at local attractions, tourist spots, etc., where you can exchange your money comfortably. They often offer better rates. In addition, you may find people approaching you to exchange money for you, but I would avoid those situations. Counterfeit bills can be an issue, or you may not get a fair exchange rate. 

Can I use my debit/credit card in Colombia?

Yes, most credit cards are accepted in big cities and are in most major stores. However, having said that, small towns and small stores may not accept credit cards. In addition, you must reach out to your credit card company beforehand to understand any traveling fees and alert them that you will be out of the country so they allow the transactions to go through. 

One of the credit cards I prefer to take while traveling is my Capital One Credit Card. Capital One does not charge extra foreign transaction fees. This is something worth considering. 

How much money do I need?

We recommend budgeting about $150,000 to $300,000 COP per day per person, depending on your needs and travel style. 

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