Changing U.S. Currency in CA and SA

Discussion in 'Latin America' started by rasjay, Feb 17, 2013.

  1. rasjay

    rasjay Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2011
    Oddometer:
    45
    This summer I'm planning a trip with my son from Minnesota to Buenos Aires on KLRs. During the trip we'll be exchanging some USD. What denominations seem the easiest to exchange along this route based on your experiences?

    Thanks!!!!
    #1
  2. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad n00balicious

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2007
    Oddometer:
    4,541
    Location:
    Santa Susana, CA
    Many travelers now days don't carry Dollars to be exchanged. An ATM machine at a bank will spit out local currency with only a minor ATM fee. But just like a credit card, be sure to notify your bank that you will be traveling out of the country.
    #2
  3. Dr. Benny

    Dr. Benny Enjoying the Journey

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    869
    Location:
    Bay Area, California
    Yup, ATMs are everywhere. Stash away some emergency cash (a few hundred in USD) but otherwise, get out local currency in each country.

    Also, El Salvador, Panama, and Ecuador use the USD as their national currency so it's easy to restock along the way. Nevertheless, it's easy to exchange USD at any border crossing - it's a good idea to use 20s (50s and 100s are not common). Have a great trip!
    #3
  4. tedder

    tedder irregular

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2004
    Oddometer:
    8,800
    Location:
    Portland
    Exactly. Stash the emergency cash in twenties. You'll never use a hundy :evil

    Carry at least two ATM cards (from different banks, not same bank).
    #4
  5. jonz

    jonz Miles are my mantra

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,534
    Location:
    CA dez (it's a dry heat)/West Yellowstone,MT
    Howdy,
    I'm in Colombia right now. My group has had quite a few $20 bills refused because they were dirty or slightly torn. I'm told it's because there is alot of counterfeit money floating around down here.

    + whatever number on using ATM's. You'd be surprised at the number of dusty little villages with ATM machines.

    I didn't go to Argentina but I've been told that the black market exchange rate is something like 50% more than what you get from an bank so if that is still the case, it would make sense to carry enough $$$$ to cover that part of the trip. Or just pick up some dollars in Panama or Ecuador.
    #5
  6. moto-treks

    moto-treks Back Home

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,810
    Location:
    Spokane Washington
    Pretty much what everyone has said above. Get some new US $$ to keep as emergency cash. Use the local ATMs for cash in each country.

    In Central America, use the money changers at each boarder crossing to exchange whatever cash you have from the previous country into the currency for the new country.
    #6
  7. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2002
    Oddometer:
    25,130
    Location:
    out and about
    Always be aware of the 'official' exchange rates before wanting/needing to change your whatevers into different money.
    Some countries don't seem to like their adjacent country's money...:)
    USD are good to go and are the level.
    Banks charge a fee. Money changers can sometimes offer a better than 'official' rate.
    #7
  8. mundobravo

    mundobravo Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Oddometer:
    3,177
    Location:
    new mexico
    Rasjay may be from the " cash economy" . I often have cash I don't want to run into my bank account. In fact that is allot of my traveling money. I carry it in $50's and change them at a bank into local $ . Yes , a ATM is more simple and cleaner this method works for $ you want/need to keep out of the system. $100 bills freak everyone out. I always use local $ and never try to pass US $ anywhere, all ways change at the bank first. Lone Rider makes a good point on using street changers but have your own calculator and get your head on right when changing $ on the street.
    #8
  9. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2002
    Oddometer:
    25,130
    Location:
    out and about
    Distractions are a common tactic used on the street to get over on somebody.
    Zero distractions or don't make a deal then.
    Later can be only a few minutes.
    When changing money, everything else in the world stops dead, and then restarts afterwards.
    A narrow zone, so to speak...
    #9
  10. mundobravo

    mundobravo Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Oddometer:
    3,177
    Location:
    new mexico
    +1 , and really , have your own calculator ... do the math
    #10
  11. Saralou

    Saralou Worldwide Rider

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,583
    Location:
    July 22, 2012 start RTW from Vancouver, B.C.
    We have used only ATM since we left June 22 2012. We have not had any issues getting money. In large tourist centres in Mexico they dispense both USD and Peso. The USD under 50$ is taken in Nicaragua, Panama, and Costa Rica. Even the ATM at the Nicaraguan/Honduras border dispensed USD or Cordoba. Be prepared small towns may not have ATMs or there may not be cash left in them by friday afternoon.

    Sara
    #11
  12. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    5,315
    Location:
    Alaska
    When you get much further south, be prepared for ATM's to be out of cash, especially in Argentina it can be hit and miss.

    In Brazil I had issues finding an ATM that would accept my visa bank card, sometimes it takes several tries to find a machine that works.

    In VZ, the black market exchange rate is about 20 Bs to the dollar, if you can get 18 that's ok as well. Never use an ATM or credit card in Venezuela as the official exchange rate is something like 4 to 1.

    More recently, its better to use the black market in Argentina as well.

    So yes, always have a good supply of US dollars as emergency cash and before entering Argentina or Venezuela. The US dollar is still the standard for many money changers all over Latin America.

    Also when passing through the central american countries, be sure to get rid of all of your cash from the previous country as you cross the border. If you forget, you will be stuck with that cash for the rest of your trip and it will be useless to you unless you are coming back north.

    Some places I was able to re stock with dollars at some ATM machines:

    Mexico tourist areas
    Guatemala City
    Antigua, Guatemala
    El Salvador (US dollar)
    San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
    Costa Rica
    Panama (US dollar)
    Bogota, Medellin, Pasto, Colombia
    Ecuador (US dollar)
    Peru touristy areas
    Santiago, Chile
    #12
  13. Moto Mikey

    Moto Mikey Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    456
    Location:
    Charlottesville, VA

    Good info to know. Saving it to my desktop :deal


    We still need to meet up for some cervezas when your back in AK :freaky I'm leaving for South America the end of this summer.
    #13
  14. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    5,315
    Location:
    Alaska

    Sounds good. I'll be around.
    #14
  15. rasjay

    rasjay Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2011
    Oddometer:
    45
    Thanks for all the great advice - I really appreciate. We roll down our driveway in Minnesota on May 21 and will hopefully arrive in BA in early Aug.
    #15