Nevado del Ruiz – Manizales, Caldas, Colombia.
Snow covered volcano
ATMs in Colombia
ATMs in Colombia are widely available and have an English option; however, be sure to use them in the day, and be aware of your surroundings. When possible, use an ATM inside a branch of a bank. Safety is always a concern for foreigners in Colombia, and tourists tend to be targets for petty theft. So use bank ATMs when you can and don’t carry large amounts of cash on you. Carry what you plan to spend, and keep the rest securely stored.
To find your best ATM options, you can use global ATM locators: Withdrawal fees will vary, but they are expensive and common. As such, it makes sense to withdraw the maximum amount of cash per day. Touristy areas are more likely to let you withdraw a significant amount.
In the worst-case scenario, you will be charged an ATM fee, an international withdrawal fee, and a currency exchange fee at an ATM. Some ATMs might charge an exchange fee, and waive the withdrawal fee. But expect a lot of variation in your fees and charges.
Decline ATM offers to be charged in your home currency
Always select “withdraw in pesos” (the local currency) as opposed to withdrawing or being charged in your home currency. Otherwise, the ATM may mark up the exchange rate you’re getting. This is known as ‘Dynamic Currency Conversion’, and it usually means extra charges placed on you.
Banks in Colombia
There is one central bank in Colombia, the Banco de la Republica. It is run by the state, and functions as a promoter of financial inclusion policy, and an issuer of Colombian currency.
Colombia also maintains many commercial banks and foreign bank branches within its borders. Your home bank may partner with banks abroad to waive fees. Other banks may build in a charge, or take a cut of your withdrawal. Do the research before you leave, and then be on the lookout for partner banks during your trip.
Major Retail Banks in Colombia
Banco de Bogotá
Banco de Occidente
International Banks operating in Colombia
Banco Popular Colombia
Banco GNB Sudameris
But beyond worrying about money, make sure you enjoy your trip. And whenever you’re done, rather than exchanging those pesos back into your home currency and losing money again, treat yourself to something nice.