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American Express® Gold Card
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Colombians have a saying: “No dar papaya”, translated as “don’t let anyone take advantage of you.” Whether you’re walking the street of Bogota or exploring the Colombian Caribbean, know the best ways to use your travel money. Read our guide to save on fees and avoid getting taken for a ride by your bank when you travel to Colombia.
Our pick for travel credit card
American Express® Gold Card
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If you’re planning a trip to Colombia, it pays to do your research before you leave. Colombian pesos (COP) are the currency of the Republic of Colombia and the only currency accepted in Colombian towns and cities.
Credit, debit and travel money cards are accepted in fewer places than the US and ATMs are expensive to use, so compare travel money options and apply for the product that’s going to let you withdraw cash for less.
Visa, Mastercard and American Express are widely accepted in Colombia, though you’ll find it difficult to make any online payments for reservations. Save money by finding a credit card that waives the foreign exchange fee. For added savings, take advantage of the interest-free period by paying your balance in full each month.
Cash advance fees, interest charges, ATM charges and foreign currency conversion charges all apply when you withdraw cash on credit. As a general rule, credit cards should only be used for over-the-counter purchases.
A couple of things to remember when you’re traveling in Colombia:
It’s good to have cash when you’re traveling in Colombia. Keeping a debit card is handy because you’ll have access to your cash each time you come across an ATM. Compare debit cards based on if it waives the currency conversion fee and international ATM withdrawal fees.
There are some restrictions to use travel cards in Colombia, including:
You’ll have a tough time using your credit card off the beaten track so make sure you have cash if you plan on visiting small towns. For example taxis, tiendas esquina (corner shops), and tiendas baratera (discount shops) and cafeterias don’t take cards.
Colombian pesos come in 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 banknotes. Battered and worn 1,000 pesos notes are accepted by vendors within reason.
COP is the national currency of the Republic of Colombia, though Colombian pesos are not the same as Mexican pesos. COP is a volatile currency and exchange rates may change marginally during your trip.
You can get your money changed at a bank or at a dedicated money changer. Banks are everywhere and money changers are found in a shopping centers in all Colombian capital cities.
Foreign exchange offices have a cap on the amount of money you can change at a time. Brush up on some basic Spanish to ask about how much money you can change in one go.
¿Cuál es el máximo? – What is the maximum?
Refreshing in: 60s | Fri, Jul 30, 05:43PM GMT
In the big cities such as Bogota, Medellin (pronounced Med-e-jin), Cali, Ibague, Cartagena and Barranquilla, ATMs and banks are everywhere. Keep in mind that if you need to see a teller, the lines can get be long.
Here’s what to know about using an ATM in Colombia.
Avoid being an easy target for thieves by showing some common sense and keeping your valuables on hand at all times.
Colombia is safer than most people think it is. The civil war is all but finished and the dark days of Colombia’s history are just that: history.
In a country where it costs a couple of pesos for a bed, you’ll have plenty of money to travel around the country. Travel in Colombia is very cheap for Americans, and you could survive on just a few dollars a day. Even the most luxurious vacation can be done for under $100 a day. All prices are in US dollars.
|Budget (Cheap)||Mid-range||Luxury (High-end)|
|Accommodation||Hostel dorm beds per night|
|Hotel rooms per night|
|Hostel private rooms per night (based on double occupancy)|
|Meals||Arepa con queso, boiled/salted potatoes, fresh sliced mango street food|
|Full meals including a meat (chicken) with small side (potatoes, french fries), hot dogs, hamburgers|
|City taxi (metered, average distance)|
Prices are approximate and are subject to change.
What’s your travel money recommendation?
Don’t cary too much cash around with you. Like anywhere else you travel, thieves look for tourists as targets. It’s best to have a variety of money options, and to leave some card in your hotel room safe just in case.
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