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Cash and ATMs in Bolivia: Fees, limits, currency exchange, cards info for your travel

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Bolivia, a country of diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage, is known for its stunning salt flats, towering Andean peaks, and vibrant indigenous traditions. From the otherworldly beauty of Salar de Uyuni to the bustling markets of La Paz, Bolivia offers a unique blend of natural wonders and cultural experiences. Navigating the financial aspects is key to a smooth journey, so understanding the local currency and cash, ATMs in Bolivia, and payment options is essential for exploring Bolivia with ease and confidence.

Cash or card?

Don’t forget your cash when you’re exploring! In many places, especially outside the big cities, you might find that 85% of the time, cash is your best bet.

Cash in Bolivia for: Visa on Arrival (if applicable, in local currency or USD), Street shopping, local taxis, Small purchases, Street food vendors, Tips and gratuities in many places, Food from local restaurants, especially in less touristy areas, Entry fees for some temples, museums, and historical sites, Public buses, Many hostels and budget hotels, Local trains (in some areas, ticket machines might not accept cards), Many tour operators, especially local or small-scale ones, Local markets and bazaars

Card for:

Good looking coffee shops in major cities
Spas in major cities
Entry fees for major tourist attractions and theme parks in major cities
Expensive tour operators
Online bookings for hotels, flights, and tours
Car rentals
Tailoring services in major cities
Fancy sit-down restaurants in major cities
Shopping in malls and branded stores in major cities
Upmarket hotels
Professional pre-paid taxi booking services (such as in larger cities)

So where to get cash in Bolivia?

There are 2 ways to get the cash in Bolivia. They are:
ATMs, or
Currency exchange
Pro-tip: Avoid buying Bolivianos in your home country. It’s not a popular currency so it’ll be hard to find at home and if you do, the exchange rate will be poor.

Find ATMs in Bolivia at?

Bolivia offers a network of more than 4,000 ATMs across its cities, but we can tell you that this is not enough. They’re not as common in smaller towns.
Look for ATMs at major airports, town squares, tourist areas, and malls.
Finding one might be harder at small airports, regional bus stops, in small towns off the main streets, and in the rural parts of villages, top tourist sights.

Popular banks with ATMs

The most popular ATMs in Bolivia are:
BCP Bolivia
Banca Ganadero
BNB – Banco Nacional de Bolivia
BancoSol
Mercantil Santacruz

There are other banks with ATMs that also accept international debit and credit cards.

Where to find currency exchanges?

To exchange money in Bolivia, you can use:
Authorised currency exchange centres: Found in touristy streets of La Paz, Sucre, and Cochabamba, these centres should have an authorisation certificate. Uyuni has fewer options. Ensure they ask for identification.
Banks: Convert your currency to Bolivianos at bank branches, especially for currencies like US dollars, Euros, Pounds, Japanese Yen, and Singapore dollars. Expect a commission fee of 0.5% to 2% per transaction.
Hotels and airports: Currency exchange services are available, but rates are often less favorable. Some larger hotels may offer rates similar to banks.

Tips:
Avoid airport exchanges for better rates.
Steer clear of the black market to prevent scams.
Bring new notes for better rates or lower fees.
For US dollars, larger bills generally yield higher rates.

Accepted currencies:

Bolivia mainly accepts its local currency Bolivian Boliviano (BOB or Bs.). Note denominations are 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200. 

US Dollar: You use US Dollars for also for Visa on Arrival and Visa Fees (ensure good notes). USD is also accepted by touristic places like shopping markets, tour operators and some hotels and hostels.

Euro: Not accepted

Pound: Not accepted

Know the ATMs in Bolivia

Foreign debit and credit cards usage:  Absolutely, Bolivia’s ATMs are very accommodating to international cards. 

Types of cards at ATMs: ATMs in Bolivia will mainly accept Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus, Plus, and Maestro cards. Dont expect ATMs to accept JCB, UnionPay, Amex, Diners, Discover or RuPay cards.

Types of cards to swipe: Swiping your Visa and Mastercard won’t be a problem as they’re accepted in many places. However, Amex and different card types are accepted in fewer locations.

Opening hours ATMs: are usually operational 24/7, with many being standalone for easy access at any time. However, ATMs inside banks might have restricted hours from 9 am to 3 pm.

Workings and functionalities of the ATMs: Without a doubt, Bolivia boasts modern ATMs that operate on par with those in major countries like the US and the UK. A word of caution: these machines may keep your card during the transaction, so don’t leave it behind.

ATM names: Words Cajero Automatico or ATM are widely used

PIN type: ATMs in Bolivia primarily accept 4-digit PINs. ATMs in Bolivia are generally not configured to accept PINs longer than 4 digits.
Also, many merchants used old machines which require a magnetic stripe on the card and not just a chip-and-pin card.

Language options: Bolivian ATMs generally offer Spanish and English as the default language choices.

Know the foreign exchanges in Bolivia

Foreign debit and credit cards usage: Currency exchanges prefer hard cash for exchange. Visa is accepted at many places, mastercard next. Please be mindful of the fees you will pay if you use your card at a currency exchange.

Opening hours: For exchanging currency, cash is often preferred. Visa is typically accepted at a number of outlets, followed by Mastercard, but remain alert to potential fees attached to card use.

Languages to interact in: Staff at currency exchanges in Bolivia can usually interact in Spanish and English.

Exchange names: Places where you can exchange currency might be labeled as ‘Currency Exchange’, ‘Forex’, or ‘Cambios’.

ATM withdrawal limit and ATM Fees

Withdrawal limit: ATMs typically restrict the withdrawal per transaction from Bs 500 to Bs 2000. One ATM allows upto Bs 5000.

ATM fees: Here’s the good news! In Bolivia, the range of ATM fees goes from Bs. 0 to Bs 69.67. Which means there are some ATM brands that charge absolutely no fees!

Ways to avoid high fees

For ATMs:
Use fee-free ATMs in the country.
Use the ATM Fee Saver app to find fee-free or low-fee ATMs.
Opt for “Decline Conversion” or “Without Conversion” during ATM transactions.
Consider getting fee-free cards from your home country.
For more in-depth insights and alternative methods, check out our detailed article, Withdrawing cash abroad? 9 best ways to save foreign ATM fees.
For currency exchanges:
Avoid no-fee exchange offices at all costs to get money in Bolivia – If they say no fee, which means they account for their fee in the exchange rate. Nothing is ever free in currency exchanges
Avoid using credit and debit cards for direct transactions
Don’t buy Bolivianos in your home country – Its not a popular currency and you’ll get poor exchange rates
Don’t carry a lot of Bolivianos back home – Again, exchange rate to sell will be poor. And mostly, it wont even be bought back by currency exchanges outside of Bolivia.

Ways to find fee-free ATMs in Bolivia

Use the ATM Fee Saver application on both mobile and web to pinpoint ATMs in Bolivia that don’t impose fees, alongside currency exchange and money transfer facilities. This app outlines the costs for foreign cardholders at Bolivia ATMs and their withdrawal limits. It also features an easy calculator to accurately determine the fees for any withdrawal in Bolivia. Once you’ve chosen an ATM, the app will navigate you there and includes data for 50 countries, with Bolivia featured.

Cash in Bolivia and and safety

Carrying cash

In Bolivia, it’s generally not advisable to carry a large amount of cash. Only carry what you need for a few hours or the day. To safeguard your cash:
Distribute your cash in different places.
Consider using a safety belt or fanny pack.
Avoid displaying large amounts of cash in public.
Be discreet when making payments.
Keep your wallet in your front pocket if possible.
Hold your belongings tightly in crowded areas.

Safety at ATMs & currency exchanges

The security of ATM transactions in Bolivia is influenced by the ATM’s location, the time of use, and the immediate environment. Despite a general sense of safety, instances of muggings near ATMs have been reported. To ensure your safety, utilize ATMs in busy, well-lit areas, and exercise caution during nighttime. For more safety advice, check out our articles on ATM safety for travelers.

FAQs

Fee-free ATMs and possible to withdraw cash in Bolivia free of cost?

Yes, You can withdraw cash free of cost at 6 bank ATM brands in Bolivia.

Foreign cards from US, UK, India, China, Europe accepted?

Absolutely yes! You can usually use cards from the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and other countries at ATMs in Bolivia.

Bitcoin ATMs

No, there are no Bitcoin ATMs in Bolivia.

Foreign banks’s presence in Bolivia

Bank of America: None at all

Citibank: None at all

Barclays: Not present

HSBC: None at all

Standard Chartered: None at all

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