Currency and Money in Colombia

So, you are traveling to Colombia, or you are already in Colombia, and you are wondering how money works here, or you are wondering how you can best prepare yourself for your trip financially in terms of what to bring, what to leave behind, and what to expect when you get here… Well, wonder no more. Today, I am going to give you the 4-1-1 on currency and money in Colombia.

First of all, you should know a little bit about Colombian currency. The official currency of Colombia is the Colombian peso (COP). The Colombian peso exists in both bill and coin form, and is most commonly found in denominations of hundreds and thousands. The bills you’ll find include a 1.000, 2.000, 5.000, 10.000, 20.000, and 50.000 COP, and the most common coins include a 500, 200, 100, and, occasionally, 50 peso coins. There is also a new 1.000 COP coin that is being circulated to replace the 1.000 COP bill. However, many people are trying to save the 1.000 COP coins, so it’s still somewhat rare to see it in use.

Colombian peso bills

Colombian peso bills

That being said, what kind of cash, if any, should you carry around with you when in Colombia? It all depends on what you’re doing and what you need money for. Know, for example, that you will likely get huffs and puffs from some small store employees, taxi drivers, bus drivers, and street vendors if you try to give them a 50.000 COP bill. For these types of transactions, you’ll want to try and have small bills such as 5.000, 2.000, and 1.000 COP bills, and for buses, you’ll even want to have coins, as most buses cost between 1.300 and 1.700 COP.  When eating in restaurants, shopping in malls, and making larger purchases, all bills are generally accepted and welcomed. Be aware, though, that when you are withdrawing money from an ATM/Cash Point, you will most likely be given larger bills—mainly 50.000 and 20.000 COP bills. You’ll want to make sure and break them before using them on the street.

And, speaking of ATMs (Cash Points), what should you know about using debit and credit cards in Colombia? Most chain stores, restaurants, airlines, and grocery stores take credit and debit cards, and there are ATMs on practically every corner of every street in most major cities in Colombia. Word of caution, though: if you are heading to a small town in Colombia, do not expect an ATM. Many small towns do in fact have at least one ATM, but I have been to towns that have neither a bank nor an ATM. So, to be sure, be prepared to take cash when traveling to smaller towns.

Colombian peso coins

Colombian peso coins

With this brief introduction to currency in Colombia, you should now have a general idea of what the currency is in Colombia as well as when and where to use different denominations of bills as well as different methods of payment. If you still have lingering questions, don’t hesitate to ask it in a comment on this post.

Happy travels folks,

Paige M. Poole

About the author:

“Paige M. Poole is an Alabamian and traveler at heart who has settled, for now, in Barranquilla, Colombia, and earns her living as an English professor at the Instituto de Idiomas (Language Institute) at la Universidad del Norte (University of the North). When not teaching English, she enjoys blogging, traveling, relaxing on the beach, and spending time with her partner and two cats, Milo and Sophie.  You can see more of Paige’s traveling experiences in her personal blog www.trotamunda.wordpress.com 

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2 thoughts on “Currency and Money in Colombia

  1. Any ideas on good places to break large bills from ATMS before going to a small business?
    Also, do ATMs allow you to type in funky numbers so you get coins and even a few smaller bills? That seems to be something totally different in every country. Thanks! 🙂

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