Currency in Chile

What Currency Does Chile Use Now

Presently, Chile utilizes the Chilean Peso (CLP) as their official currency. The currency manifests itself in both coins and banknotes. Coins range from 1 to 500 Pesos, while the banknotes come in denominations of 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000 and 20,000 Pesos. Interestingly, the banknotes are color-coded: blue for 1000, green for 2000, orange-brown for 5000, red for 10,000, and purple for 20,000 Pesos. This vibrant assortment makes it easier to distinguish between the different denominations. A common symbol for the Chilean peso is the "$", the same as the U.S. Dollar, sometimes causing confusion for travelers.

Credit and Debit Cards in Chile

Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in urban regions of Chile; however, cash is still predominantly used in local markets and small towns, making it essential for tourists to carry a mix of both. International cards, including brands like Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are generally accepted. Remember, though, that if you're using a foreign credit or debit card, every transaction may come with an additional foreign transaction fee, depending on your bank's policies.

In order to mitigate this problem, consider notifying your bank about your travel plans before leaving; they may be able to suggest a card with low or no foreign transaction fees. It's always good to have multiple payment options when traveling, just in case one method doesn't work.

Using Cash in Chile

In Chile, cash transactions are still the norm. It's particularly common in rural areas, small establishments, street markets, and taxi services. Tipping in restaurants, cafes, or to service staff is also usually done in cash. Therefore, always keeping a small amount of Chilean Pesos on hand is suggested.

When changing your home currency to Chilean Pesos, you can use exchange houses ('Casas de Cambio'), commercial banks, or withdraw directly from Chilean ATMs. Exchange houses are generally found in major cities and are open extended hours, whereas banks tend to offer less advantageous exchange rates and have strict opening times.

ATMs in Chile

ATMs, known locally as 'Cajeros Automaticos,' can be found throughout Chile. They're available in both English and Spanish, making transactions easy for tourists. Over the recent years, they have become a common method of withdrawing cash for both locals and tourists.

Most ATMs have a per-transaction limit, usually around 200,000 CLP ($300 USD approx), but you can make multiple transactions per day, though each one typically involves a fee. Please note that, besides the local ATM fee, your home bank might charge a foreign transaction fee as well.

Bank Hours

In Chile, most banks are open from Monday to Friday and operate between 9:00 am and 2:00 pm. Some larger banks may have longer hours and may open on Saturdays for a limited time. Keep in mind that these hours can be subject to change during national holidays or regional festivities.

To sum up, understanding the currency and banking practices of Chile will help ensure a smooth stay as you navigate this stunning nation. Keeping a steady balance of cash and cards, coupled with a basic understanding of the local financial system, will help make your travels effortless and enjoyable.