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Cash & ATMs in Chile: All on cash, cards, fees, limits, money

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cash currency exchange atms in chile

Chile is simply breathtaking, with its incredible contrasts and mesmerising natural wonders. From the dry heat of the Atacama Desert to the cold fjords of Patagonia, and from the vibrant city life of Santiago to the tranquil paradise of Easter Island, Chile is a place where you can experience a diverse range of landscapes and immerse yourself in different cultures. To successfully navigate this diverse terrain, it’s important to have a good grasp of the local cash, how to use ATMs in Chile, and the various payment options available in this country. Discover the financial insights that will make your exploration of Chile’s wonders a breeze. With this guide, you’ll have the confidence to embark on a memorable journey from the Andes to the Pacific.

Do I need to have cash on hand in Chile, or can I rely solely on using my card?

You’ll find that cards are accepted pretty much everywhere in Chile, even in smaller shops. However, this is primarily in large urban areas. In small towns, you’d need cash for hostels and even restaurants because when you swipe cards in towns and villages, tourists indicate that there is usually a surcharge of around 3% if and when it is accepted. Just keep in mind that cash is the preferred method of payment in national parks, restaurants, hostels in small towns, public transport, and small vendors.

You’ll need cash for:

Public transport, as some local and regional bus services
Small local markets and street vendors, particularly in less urbanised areas.
Entrances to national parks
Hostels and budget accommodations
Tips in cafes and restaurants
Taxis in smaller towns and rural areas

You’ll need card for:

Most hotels and large retail stores across the country
Restaurants and cafes in major cities such as Santiago, Valparaíso, Concepción and Puerto Montt.
Intercity bus lines and domestic flights.
Tours, high-end accommodations, and entertainment venues

What types of currencies are accepted? Are US Dollars, Euros, or Pounds accepted in Chile?

Chile’s local currency is the Chilean Peso (CLP), and it comes in note denominations of $1000, $2000, $5000, $10,000, and $20,000. Peso is the most accepted currency for transactions.

Some tourist-oriented businesses, hotels, and tour operators do accept US Dollars. But Euros and Pounds are not accepted.

How to get the local currency in Chile?

In Chile, there are three primary methods for obtaining cash: ATMs, currency exchange, or money transfer services

Note – Avoid purchasing Peso in your home country. It is not a popular currency worldwide and its moderately popular in South America. So it will be challenging to find it at home and even if you manage to, the exchange rate won’t be favourable.

Where can I find ATMs in Chile?

Chile has a wide network of over 3,500 ATMs, which are operated by the country’s top 10 banks. There are plenty of ATMs available in cities and even a few options in smaller towns, including at fuel stations, where you can easily get cash in Chile. However, if you’re planning to visit remote islands or far-off destinations, don’t set your expectations high.

ATMs are commonly found at:

Popular airports
Market and town squares
Popular streets in every big city that attract tourists
Shopping malls
Food lanes
Branches of banks
Few corporate buildings

Here are some locations where finding ATMs might be hard:

Smaller airports
Highways
Islands
Bus stops in the area
The villages’ interiors
Off the main streets in small towns
Secluded getaways
Close to the stunning national parks

Currency exchanges in Chile

You can use these places to exchange cash in Chile:

Authorised currency exchange centres: You will find them in all touristy destinations on the shopping streets in Santiago near the presidential palace, on the main streets of Valparaiso, Puerto Montt, Concepcion and Puerto Natales, branded as currency exchanges. Ask to see their authorisation certificate and check if they ask you for documents.
Banks: Bank branches can also easily convert your currency to Peso, especially from currencies like US dollars, Euros, Pounds, Japanese Yen, Thai Baht, and Singapore dollars. Expect a pay a commission of 1% to 2% per transaction.
Hotels and airports: Airports have lots of currency exchanges and so do many large and small hotels. But the exchange rates are not great.

Pro-tips:

Don’t exchange at airports – Rates are poor
Don’t exchange at black market – You’re likely to be scammed
Bring new notes – Damaged, dirty notes will get you lesser rates or higher fees

What types of cards are accepted in Chile?

In Chile, ATMs primarily accept Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus, Plus, JCB, and UnionPay. They do not usually accept Amex, Diners, Discover, or Rupay cards.

You’ll find that Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted for swiping. It’s worth noting that your Amex card can only be used at a limited number of establishments.

Most currency exchanges prefer customers to pay with physical cash when exchanging currency. Many places accept Visa or MasterCard. It’s important to keep in mind the fees associated with using your card at a currency exchange.

Are ATMs in Chile similar to other countries?

Yes, they are quite similar to ATMs in other countries. The ATMs are sleek and function like the ones you’d find in the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and India. Remember to retrieve your card after withdrawing cash from ATMs that keep your card inside during the transaction.

ATMs also give you the option to choose between currency conversion or not. It’s usually a good idea to choose ‘Without Conversion’ or ‘Decline Conversion’ to avoid any additional fees.

Common banks with ATMs in Chile

Banco Estado
Itau
Banco Condell
Santander
Banco BCI
Banco Internacional
Security Banco

In addition to local banks, there are also ATMs from various international banks available in Chile. These include:

Scotiabank

The Global ATM Alliance is a collaboration between multiple banks worldwide, enabling their customers to conveniently withdraw cash from any partner bank overseas without incurring any ATM fees. A number of banks across different regions, such as the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and Latin America, are members of the Global ATM Alliance. This includes well-known banks like Bank of America, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, and several others. Scotiabank is a member of this network.

What are ATMs called in Chile?

There are 2 main ATM networks in Chile – Redf and Redbanc. So you will see ATMs have a sign with ‘R’ in red and white. Otherwise, you will typically not see words like ‘ATM’ or ‘cajero automático’.

ATMs and PINs type in Chile

In Chile, ATMs typically accept 4-digit PINs.

At merchants, Chip-and-PIN cards are the norm, but they also commonly accept magnetic stripe cards.

Languages at ATMs and currency exchanges in Chile

When using ATMs in Chile, you’ll find two language options as a default – Spanish and English. If you’re not familiar with these languages, that’s fine. Try out Google Translate’s camera feature to instantly translate the text on your phone. Just a heads up – these translations may not always be 100% accurate, so it’s best to take your time and not rush through the transaction.

When you visit currency exchange places, you’ll be able to communicate in Spanish mainly, and sometimes English.

Let’s talk about withdrawal limits and ATM fees in Chile…

Withrawal limits: ATMs typically restrict the withdrawal per transaction to Cp 200,000, with one bank offering up to Cp 400,000 per transaction.

ATM Fees: ATM fees in Chile for foreign card holders range from Cp 5,000 to Cp 8,500. Unfortunately, there are no free ATMs available for most foreigners. One bank is part of the Global ATM Alliance and provides fee-free withdrawals exclusively to other cardholders within this network.

Discover convenient options to get money in Chile using ATM Fee Saver

Locate fee-free and low-fee ATMs in Chile along with currency exchanges, and money transfer services effortlessly in Chile with ATM Fee Saver mobile app or web app. The app provides information on the fees and withdrawal limits for foreign cardholders using ATMs in Chile. Use the app’s user-friendly calculator to determine the exact fees for withdrawals in Chile. After selecting an ATM, the app’s navigation system will provide you with guidance to reach your destination. There is information available for 50 countries, and Chile is one of them.

Tips to avoid high fees when using ATMs and currency exchanges in Chile

Make sure to use ATMs with low fees while you’re in the country.
Discover low-fee ATMs with the ATM Fee Saver app.
Choose the option of “Decline Conversion” or “Without Conversion” when conducting ATM transactions.
Get fee-free cards from your home country.

If you need to exchange currency:

Steer clear of exchange offices that charge fees when exchanging cash in Chile – When they mention no fee, it usually implies that they have factored in their fee within the exchange rate.
Avoid credit and debit cards for currency exchange transactions.
Avoid purchasing Peso in your home country – It’s not a popular global currency and the exchange rates may not be favourable.
It’s not worth bringing back a large amount of Peso when you return home. The exchange rate for selling it will be unfavourable. Plus, it’s unlikely that currency exchanges outside of South America will even accept it for buyback.

Is it safe to use currency exchanges and ATMs in Chile?

The level of safety when using ATMs in Chile is influenced by several factors:

ATM’s location
Time of using the ATM
People in and around the ATM
There have been many cases of tourists being mugged for cash outside ATMs especially during nighttime, on empty streets and even in crowded places. Even though in general you are safe if you follow precautions, Chile does have regular instances of tourists and locals being threatened with knives and guns for stealing valuables and money.

For ATMs:

Try to use the ones found at bank branches – these tend to be more secure and less vulnerable to skimming.
Keep an eye on your card transactions: Make sure to keep an eye on your credit card transactions by regularly checking your bank’s mobile app or online banking platform. Make sure to promptly report any transactions to your bank, that you did not authorise.
Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi for sensitive transactions. Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to enhance your security.
Make sure to keep your card in sight: It’s best to be cautious when giving your card to merchants who take it out of sight.
It’s always a good idea to have two credit cards with you when you’re travelling. Having a backup option is great because if one card encounters an issue, you’re covered.

For currency exchanges,
It is important to only use authorised and registered exchange places for currency exchanges.

Is it safe to carry cash while travelling in Chile?

The answer is no. When you’re travelling in Chile, it’s important to be cautious about carrying a significant amount of cash. Even though different cities and towns have varying levels of safety, as a general rule, it’s advisable to only carry the amount of cash you require for the day or a few hours. Here are some tips to help you out:

Spread out your cash between different pockets or wallets. Distribute it evenly.
Use a safety belt or fanny pack to keep some cash on hand.
Refrain from flaunting a significant amount of money in public.
Be cautious when making payments and do not show all of your cash at once.
Keep your wallets in the front pockets of your pants if you can.
When you’re in crowded areas, such as busy streets or public transportation, it’s important to keep a firm grip on your purses, wallets and bags and keep them close to you.

Preguntas frecuentes relacionadas

Is it possible to withdraw cash in Chile without any fees?

Yes, you can withdraw from Scotiabank if your bank is also part of the Global ATM Alliance without a fee. Otherwise expect to pay a fee.

Can credit cards from the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and other countries be used in Chile?

Definitely. ATMs in Chile generally accept credit cards from various countries including the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and others.

Any Bitcoin ATMs in Chile?

There are a few Bitcoin ATMs in Chile, specifically located in Santiago.

Are there any Bank of America ATMs in Chile?

Unfortunately, Bank of America ATMs are not available in Chile.

Are there any Barclays Bank ATMs in Chile?

Unfortunately, Barclays ATMs are not available in Chile.

Are there any HSBC ATMs available in Chile?

There are a few HSBC ATMs in Chile.

Are there any Standard Chartered ATMs in Chile?

Unfortunately, Standard Chartered ATMs are not available in Chile.

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