Dealing with foreign currency and knowing what to pay for goods and services while traveling can be daunting. But getting cash in Bogotá or throughout Colombia is relatively easy.
Many stores and larger chains now have tap and go payments in Colombia. Meaning you can pay for goods and services using Apple Pay, Android Pay or Google Pay. For everything else I would recommend getting cash from Western Union or through another international transfer service.
Here’s a quick guide with everything you need to know about cash and currency exchange in Bogotá Colombia.
Currency exchange and using cash in Bogotá Colombia
What Is The Currency In Bogotá Colombia?
The currency in Colombia is the Colombian Peso or COP. You will need to pay for goods and services in COP while in Colombia. Dollars and Euros are rarely excepted. You should not expect to pay in an alternate currency while in Colombia.
Beware Of Counterfeit Bank Notes In Colombia
All bank notes no matter how small do have counterfeits in circulation in Colombia. The most common denominations for counterfeits are 20k, 50k and 100k. In order to avoid counterfeit currency in Colombia you should check all of your change thoroughly.
Check all notes you are given have a texture and that one side of the note has a colour change hologram and the other, a metallic strip that changes colour. On the strip you’ll notice that it has BRC printed on it. If the strip is blank the note is a fake.
In the videos below and on the Banco Republica website you can see the bank notes in circulation. Use the videos below and the Banco de la República website to become familiar with the 20k, 50k and 100k bank notes. Particularly where and how to check the security features on the notes.
While in Colombia if you’re unsure if a note you’re being handed is a fake while in a store or at a small bodega, ask the customer behind you. Colombians will tell you if they think a note is fake.
Exchange Rates In Colombia?
Unlike countries such as Argentina, Cuba, Iran and others I regularly write about on this website, there are no black market currency exchange rates in Colombia. The COP is relatively stable against all major currencies (AUD, CAD, Euro, GBP, USD).
You will be able to find businesses specialised in currency exchange in all major airports, shopping centres and in business districts throughout Colombia. They are prolific and can be located on Google Maps.
It’s been my experience that there isn’t a great deal of difference in the exchange rates offered by the different money changers scattered throughout Bogotá. And you should get close to the rate displayed on XE minus the brokers fees and charges.
In Colombia I’ve found that exchanging foreign cash instead of using an electronic means to get cash is less than ideal. And I try to avoid exchanging foreign currency cash for Colombian pesos (COP) wherever possible.
While the ATM’s generally have long lines and high fees, international money transfer services like Western Union produce better rates with lower fees. And they have none of the long lines associated with using an ATM to get cash.
Is There Western Union In Bogotá?
Western Union has many locations throughout Bogotá and Colombia more generally. These can be quickly located on Google Maps. Yet I have a personal preference for Western Union outlets in safer parts of Bogotá that are inside malls.
I use Western Union like an ATM in Colombia. I send myself money and collect it in cash in store. And I will send larger amounts in single transactions in order to minimise transaction fees and charges. I like that Western Union in Colombia has biometric security (finger print scanner) in order to secure transactions.
If you’re going to use Western Union while in Colombia (recommended) I would suggest downloading the Western Union app for your country and becoming familiar with it before traveling. I also suggest using a VPN in Bogotá to protect your banking credentials and passwords when logging in.
I personally use and recommend NordVPN which is available at www.nordvpn.com
Beware Of Cash Machines (ATM) In Colombia
Cash machines or ATMs in Colombia can really scalp you on fees and charges. I personally avoid Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) in Colombia due to their high fees, long lines and lack lustre security. Unless I’m desperate for cash I won’t touch an ATM in Colombia.
I also need to add a warning here for the more novice travellers. Cash machines in Colombia attract criminals. Never use an ATM on the street in Colombia. If you do use an ATM on the street you’re putting yourself at an increased risk of armed robbery.
If you absolutely must use an ATM in Colombia use one that is inside a shopping mall. Check for credit card skimming devices and ensure that nobody is observing you while you’re using the ATM. There are many horror stories online from people who have been followed after using an ATM and robbed.
Where Can I Get More Information On Bogotá?
I’ve made my Bogotá Colombia City Guide available on this website. And I recommend you read it before traveling to Colombia. It will help you navigate Bogotá and Colombian society.
My Bogotá Colombia City Guide will save you a lot of time and a significant amount of money on your trip to Colombia. Colombia is not the sort of destination in which you can just arrive unprepared.
Read the Bogotá Colombia City Guide here.