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joaquin torres

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I grew up and live in Santiago

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Americas > Chile > Useful Info
Updated on Aug 01, 2020 Useful Info

Best way to pay for things when travelling in Chile

  • The official currency of Chile is Chilean Peso, shortened to CLP, and uses the $ sign. When you travel here and see price written like $500 it means 500 pesos. Anything that's priced in US dollars will specifically be written as US$ or USD$. The conversion rate between CLP and USD fluctuates, for the longest time it was around 1 USD = 700 CLP. At the moment it's about 1 USD = 750-800 CLP
  • Credit cards are very popularly accepted in Chile and it's my recommended way to pay for things when traveling here. This will help you avoid carrying too much cash around
  • The most widely used credit card brands are Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. Diner's Club is also pretty widely accepted. Other brands are less used here
  • Credit cards are accepted by many restaurants, shops, supermarkets, gas stations, hotels, long distance coach buses, and of course flights
  • Acceptance are higher in Santiago, but even outside of Santiago they're pretty widely used
  • However, they can't be used to pay for certain things: like taxis, street stalls, public transportation like metro and buses, entrance to public museums, etc.
  • Also, using credit cards will be more expensive than using cash, as some smaller businesses charge 2-4% fee for using credit cards to pay, and many credit cards themselves carry 2-3% foreign transaction fees when used outside the country in which they were issued
  • Credit card fraud happens but it's very rare, and you shouldn't have to worry too much about your credit card information getting stolen. That said, use your judgment if you visit some sketchy-looking places and bars, as police have busted some restaurants in Santiago before that run customers' credit cards through skimmer to steal information
  • Because of all the limitations with credit cards, I still recommend you carrying some cash around for smaller payments and places that don't accept cards
  • I recommend carrying CLP$100,000-CLP$200,000 (USD$130-$260) with you at all times to pay for places that don't accept cards
  • The best way to get cash in Chile is to use your bank card/debit card to withdraw cash money from the ATMs, which are very widely available all over the country. All bank branches have ATMs, and most of them will work with cards issued in North America, Europe, and Australia. Shopping malls and many hotels will have ATMs too. The fees for using ATMs are reasonable, working out to be around 2.5% of the withdrawal amount if you use one of the bank ATMs (non-bank ATMs usually have higher fees), and the exchange rates are usually very close to the market rate
  • Less convenient than ATMs but cheaper way to get cash is to bring foreign currency in to convert to peso. US dollar is the best foreign currency for this purpose and the rates you get will be the best. Followed by Euros. Don't exchange any money before arriving in Chile, because Chilean pesos is a minor currency so the rates you get outside of Chile will be very very bad. With USDs and Euros, you can get great rates at one of the casa de cambios in downtown areas of most cities. In Santiago there are numerous cambios downtown on Augustina street and around Plaza de Armas. Avoid exchanging a lot of money at airports due to unfavorable rates thereUser submitted photo of Chile
  • One thing to keep in mind that US dollars are almost never accepted directly for payment in Chile. I know many other countries in south America many businesses accept USD, but in Chile this is pretty much never the case, with the exception of maybe some major hotels. Carrying USD is very useful here, but only to exchange to pesos at one of the cambios