Feb 2, 2023

Getting Cash and Exchanging currency in Colombia.

Medellin attracts over 1.4 million foreigners from around the globe each year and while many places in the city accept credit cards, having cash on hand is essential. Here's a guide on how to get cash and manage money exchange efficiently during your visit to Medellín.

  1. ATMs: Your Best Bet for Cash
    • Widespread Availability: ATMs (Cajeros automáticos) are widely available throughout Medellín. Stick to reputable banks like Bancolombia, Davivienda, and BBVA for reliable and secure transactions.
    • Global Card Acceptance: Most international debit and credit cards are accepted. Check with your bank before traveling to ensure your card will work in Colombian ATMs.
    • Transaction Fees: Be aware of transaction fees. Inform your bank about your travel dates to avoid any disruptions due to security measures.
    • When using the ATM's in Medellin you will need to pay attention to the ATM screen and the specific instructions for removing money.
  2. Special Instructions for ATM's: All ATM's follow this order and progression.
    1. Choose the English option.
    2. ATM will then ask you what you want to do: Example: Withdrawal from checking?
    3. Choose the amount desired.
    4. Accept the charge for the transaction, currently about $26,500 COP or around $6.00-$6.50 U.S. dollars.
    5. You will then be prompted to enter your security code.
    6. Most important. You will be prompted again to accept or decline a conversion of currency. Decline this! OR….you will be charged an additional fee for removing cash.
  3. Currency Exchange Services:
    • Exchange Houses (Casas de Cambio): These establishments can be found in popular tourist areas. While their rates may be competitive, compare them with bank rates to ensure you get the best deal.
    • Airport Exchanges: Though convenient, currency exchange services at airports tend to offer less favorable rates. Consider exchanging a small amount for immediate needs and then use ATMs for the rest.
  4. Credit Cards:
    • Widely Accepted: Major credit cards like Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, and larger establishments. Inform your credit card company about your travel plans to prevent any issues.
    • Small Businesses and Markets: While larger businesses accept cards, smaller establishments and local markets may prefer cash. Always carry some Colombian pesos for these situations.
  5. Safety Tips:
    • Use ATMs in Safe Areas: The malls are the best for this. Stick to well-lit and busy areas when using ATMs. Avoid withdrawing large amounts at once and be discreet with your cash.
    • Notify Your Bank: Inform your bank about your travel plans to prevent your card from being flagged for suspicious activity.
  6. Local Currency: Colombian Pesos (COP)
    • Understanding Denominations: Familiarize yourself with the local currency. Colombian Pesos come in various denominations, ranging from small coins to larger bills.
    • Small Bills for Convenience: Using smaller bills can be more convenient, especially in markets and local transportation.
  7. Mobile Banking Apps:
    • Digital Payments: Some establishments in Medellín accept digital payments through mobile banking apps. Check with your bank to see if they have partnerships with local providers.
  8. Plan Ahead:
    • Budgeting: Plan your daily expenses and withdraw cash accordingly. This helps you avoid unnecessary transactions and potential fees.

By being mindful of these tips, you can ensure a smooth and efficient experience managing cash and money exchange during your stay in Medellín. Enjoy your time exploring this beautiful city!