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Cash and ATMs in Guatemala: Info you need for ATMs, fees, limits, exchange, cards

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cash currency exchange atms in guatemala

Guatemala, a country of stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, is a mosaic of volcanic landscapes, ancient Mayan ruins, and vibrant indigenous cultures. From the awe-inspiring Tikal to the picturesque Lake Atitlán, and from the colorful markets of Chichicastenango to the colonial charm of Antigua, Guatemala offers a unique blend of history and nature. To ensure a seamless journey through this captivating country, it’s important to understand the local currency and cash, ATMs in Guatemala and the various payment options available. This guide will provide you with the financial knowledge needed to explore Guatemala’s wonders with ease and confidence, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in its diverse and enchanting beauty.

Cash or card?

Out in the countryside, it’s all about cash, with about 80-90% of transactions happening the old-fashioned way.

Cash for:

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

Card for:

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

So where to get cash?

There are 2 ways to get the cash in Guatemala. They are:

ATMs, or
Currency exchange
Pro-tip: Avoid buying Guatemalan Quetzal 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.

Where to find ATMs in Guatemala?

Guatemala has a fair number of ATMs, around 5,000+, primarily in cities and towns. ATMs are not present in small towns so plan accordingly. They’re usually available at major airports, central markets, and main tourist streets.

Popular banks with ATMs

The most popular ATMs in Guatemala are:

5B
Banco Industrial
BAC Credomatic

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

Global ATM alliance: Global ATM Alliance is a partnership among many banks in the world to allow its customers to withdraw cash from all partner banks abroad without any ATM fee. Many banks in the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and Latin America are part of the Global ATM Alliance, including Bank of America, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, and others. BUT, there is no local bank in Guatemala part of this network. So don’t rely on this.

Where to find currency exchanges?

You can exchange cash in Guatemala at:

Authorised currency exchange centres: Found in tourist areas like Antigua’s main street and Guatemala City, ensure they have an authorisation certificate and ask for identification. Local brands are preferred in Guatemala.
Banks: Convert your currency to Quetzal at bank branches, especially for common currencies like US dollars, Euros, Pounds, Japanese Yen, and Singapore dollars. A commission of 0.5% to 2% per transaction is typical.
Hotels and airports: Currency exchange services are available, but rates are often less favorable. Some larger hotels may offer rates comparable to banks.
Tips:

Avoid airport exchanges for better rates.
Stay away from the black market to avoid scams.
Use new notes for better rates or lower fees.
For US dollars, larger bills generally receive higher rates.

Accepted currencies:
Guatemala mainly accepts its local currency Guatemalan Quetzal (GTQ or Q.). Note denominations are Q. 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200.
US Dollar: Some resorts, hotels and local shops that quote prices in US Dollar. If you pay in US Dollar and not in Quetzal, exchange rate in these payments will be poor.
Euro: Not accepted
Pound: Not accepted

Know the ATMs in Guatemala

Foreign debit and credit cards usage: Certainly, in Guatemala, you’ll find ATMs that are friendly to cards from other countries.

Types of cards at ATMs: ATMs in Guatemala will mainly accept Visa and Mastercard. Some of them may accept Cirrus and Plus cards. Do not expect ATMs in Guatemala to accept JCB, UnionPay, Amex, Diners, Discover, Rupay or Maestro cards.

Types of cards to swipe: Visa and Mastercard have extensive swiping acceptance. If you’re carrying an Amex or another type of card, expect fewer places to accommodate them.

Opening hours: ATMs usually operate 24/7. Those inside banks adhere to the regular banking hours of 9 am to 3 pm.

Workings and functionalities of the ATMs: Guatemala’s ATMs are quite contemporary, on par with those you’d find in the US or Europe. Please note – Some machines may fully insert your card during use, so make sure to take it back once done.

ATM names: Words Cajero are used or ATMs are present only with the name of bank. You may need to enter a bank branch to access the ATM

PIN type: ATMs in Guatemala primarily accept 4-digit PINs. Longer PINs are generally not accepted.

Also, many merchants used old machines which require a magnetic stripe on the card and not just a chip-and-pin card.

Language options: Guatemalan ATMs provide services in Spanish and English. If you’re not versed in these languages, the live camera translation feature on Google Translate can be a lifesaver, though it’s important to use it judiciously.

Know the foreign exchanges in Guatemala

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: Most currency exchange centers lean towards accepting cash. Visa is commonly accepted, followed by Mastercard. Remember to consider the fees associated with card usage.

Languages to interact in: Staff at currency exchanges in Guatemala can usually interact in 2 languages– Spanish and English

Exchange names: You can exchange your cash in Guatemala at places known as ‘Currency Exchange’ or ‘Cambios’.

ATM withdrawal limit and Fees at ATMs in Guatemala

Withdrawal limit: ATMs typically restrict the withdrawal per transaction from Q 2000 to Q 3000.

ATM fees: Unfortunately, for most foreign card holders, there are no free ATMs in Guatemala. ATMs fees range from Q 31.2 to Q 67. Only one bank has zero fees for some specific foreign cards.

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 cash in Guatemala – 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 Quetzal in your home country – Its not a popular currency and you’ll get poor exchange rates
Don’t carry a lot of Quetzal back home – Again, exchange rate to sell will be poor. And mostly, it wont even be bought back by currency exchanges outside of Guatemala.

Ways to find fee-free ATMs

Utilize the ATM Fee Saver app to access fee-free ATMs, currency exchanges, and money transfer services in Guatemala. It lists the fees for foreign cardholders at Guatemalaese ATMs, along with their withdrawal limits. The app’s calculator helps you ascertain the precise fees for withdrawals and guides you to your selected ATM with navigation and provides information for 50 countries, including Guatemala.

Money and safety

Carrying cash

To carry a large amount of cash in Guatemala is not considered safe. Carry only what you need for the day or a few hours. Tips for cash safety include:

Distribute your cash in different pockets or wallets.
Use a safety belt or fanny pack for some of your cash.
Avoid flaunting large sums of cash.
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

In Guatemala, ATM safety is influenced by location, time, and nearby people. Muggings are common, especially at night and in secluded or crowded areas. To enhance safety, use ATMs during the day in populated, well-lit locations and remain alert. Follow our travel safety articles for more precautionary measures.

FAQs

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

No, there are no ATMs in Guatemala without fees for most foreign card holders.

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 Guatemala

Bitcoin ATMs in Guatemala?

No, there are no Bitcoin ATMs in Guatemala.

Foreign banks’s presence in Guatemala

Bank of America: None at all
Citbank: Not present
Barclays: Not present
HSBC: None at all
Standard Chartered: Not present

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