Jul 12

Colombia Information: Money, Money, Money

Colombian notes and coins
Colombian notes and coins (photo courtesy of  b r e n t)

Since they just brought out some new coins and notes here in Colombia, we thought it would be pertinent to bring you some information about the local currency.

Colombia’s local currency is the Colombian Peso, which is represented by the dollar sign. The lowest note available is $1,000, which seems like a lot but you soon become accustomed to the extra zeros and, frankly, I’ve never felt richer. I am, indeed, a millionaire here in Colombia.

The exchange rate is officially rated against the US Dollar and varies daily, but for a rough estimate as you wander round you ignore the last two zeros, then for USD divide by 2, for Euros by 2.5 and for pounds by 3. For an official exchange rate, be sure to consult the currency calculator over at X-Rates.com.

$1,000, don't confuse it for the $10,000!
$1,000, don’t confuse it for the $10,000! (photo courtesy of olgaberrios)

Coming from the UK it was almost impossible to exchange local currency for Colombian Pesos, so if you’re due to arrive from a country in Europe fear not – upon arrival exchanging your money is easy. From the US most airports will exchange your money for you. ATMs are also found in abundance here in Colombia, especially in bigger cities such as Bogotá, Cartagena and Medellín, so if you don’t mind the relatively small charge, you can just take money out once you arrive. Most restaurants and shops also accept card, so you should find splashing the cash dangerously easy in Colombia.

It’s possible to exchange money on the street, but we strongly advise against it and recommend only using a bureaux de change, bank or hotel. Receiving false money isn’t common, but it’s certainly not unheard of in more popular tourist areas such as Cartagena. Be vigilant. To tell if a note is real you can touch the images and you should feel a slightly bumpy texture. If your note is completely smooth, I’m afraid it’s likely you’ve been duped.

Colombia has $1,000 $2,000 $5,000 $10,000 $20,000, $50,000 and soon $100,000 (ne) denomination notes and $20, $50, $100, $200 and $500, $200, $100, $500 and $1,000 (new) coins. They’re all pretty distinct except for the $1,000 and the $10,000 which are both brownish. That’s a pretty big leap up so be sure about what you’re paying with.

As well as introducing new coins and notes, the design of the current coins will be re-done and replaced by more secure, more decorative coins. Lovely.

And remember, money doesn’t buy happiness. It buys stuff that makes you happy.


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