Unless you are travelling at the high end of a budget Colombia is primarily a cash society for travellers. This means that you’re going to need to access your funds on a regular basis. Most Colombian ATMs have fees associated with taking cash out. So here’s our guide to getting cash in Colombia the cheapest possible way. We cover Colombia ATM withdrawal limits, the best ATM to use in Colombia as well as ATMs that don’t charge for withdrawals in Colombia and the best bank to withdraw money in Colombia.
Our ATM fees Colombia guide is updated on a regular basis, so if you see anything different to the fees posted let us know in the comments and we’ll update for everyone to read.
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED AND AFFILIATE LINKS MORE INFORMATION IN OUR DISCLAIMER
Key Things to Know About Colombia Currency, ATMs and COP
- The Colombian currency is the peso.
- It is usually either called Peso or COP
- There is ALWAYS a line at a Colombian ATM.
- The Spanish word for ATM is Cajero Automatico – but most people will understand if you ask for ATM
- Lines at Cajero Automaticos (ATMS) always move slowly. You’ll be incredulous at how slowly they moved.
- Colombian Peso notes come in denominations of 100,000, 50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, and 1,000.
- You will find old and new versions of these notes. It doesn’t mean (at all) that they are fake, just that they have changed and the old ones have not been taken out of circulation. Older notes have ‘000’ to show the thousands whereas newer notes have ‘mil’ to indicate this.
- All of the zeros on the older notes can make them hard to read in a hurry. Take your time when handing over cash. The advice we were given was to put a finger over the last 3 zeros on a note, which makes them easier to read.
- Colombian Peso coins come in denominations of 1,000, 500, 200, 100, and 50.
- You will also find different sizes of these coins, again, things have changed and the older coins have not been taken out of circulation.
Banks with ATMs in Colombia
All the major banks in Colombia have ATMs, although in some smaller towns and villages you may only find a bank branch and not an ATM. In more remote locations, like Puerto Nariño in the Amazonas region, the closest ATM and bank is a 4 hour round trip on a fast boat (and no, no one takes credit cards there either). Be sure to plan ahead, especially when you understand the Colombian ATM fees that you might be charged.
There are ATMs at all the airports in Colombia – find out more about arriving in Cartagena and what to do there
You find several Bogota airport ATMs, (inside security), we found (and used a BBVA ATM Bogota airport, airport ATMs at Cartagena and Medellin too.
Using your Cash Card or ATM Card the Most Cost Effective Way in Colombia
There are two types of fees charged on the use of a foreign ATM card (whether it is credit or debit).
- The fees charged by your bank or card provider for taking cash out in a foreign currency. You have COMPLETE control over this. If your provider currently levies a charge on taking cash out of your account in a foreign currency then you should get a new account ASAP. It will save you a FORTUNE in fees. We use and recommend Wise (formerly Transferwise) – read our guide to using it here, or learn more and sign up for a FREE Wise Multi-Currency Account here.
- The fees charged by the foreign bank either because they levy a fee on non-in country cards or because they charge a fee to non-client cards. You have a MEASURE of control over this and that’s what this article is about – how to reduce the cost of using ATMs in Colombia.
ATMs in Colombia
There are in general, lots of ATMs in Colombia. Usually, most of them will have a long line of people waiting to withdraw money from them but always check, as it may also be just a random collection of people standing around.
There are three differences between ATMs in Colombia.
- The amount of cash they will dispense at one time
- The number of withdrawals you can make each day
- The fee they charge per transaction
If you are travelling to more remote places like Puerto Nariño there are no ATMs at all and the closest ATM to the Tatacoa Desert is in Villavieja, so you’ll need to plan ahead with your spending. Not all of the ATMs in Colombia are marked on either Google maps or Maps.me. Where we found ATMs that weren’t marked on maps we’ve referenced them in our articles on those particular areas. (So for instance, the Davidienda ATM in Popayan and the Davidienda ATM in Salento are NOT on maps)
We always travel with a portable safe from PacSafe, to secure our cash, electronics and passports in our room, or even attached to a tree when we’re snorkelling.
How to find an ATM in Colombia
ATM’s are rife in Colombia, apart from in some smaller towns or more out of the way places, but just because you see a map entry for a bank in Colombia doesn’t mean that there’s an ATM there. ATM’s and banks don’t necessarily co-locate. ATM’s in Colombia are called “Cajero Automatico”. Or Cajero. You might see signs for Cajera too. If you’re asking for directions, then this phrase will help you.
¿Donde esta un cajero automatico?”
How to Use an ATM in Colombia
Using ATM in Colombia is similar to using an ATM anywhere in the world, but there are some quirks. Each Colombia ATM will have a limit and usually a line next to it (the photo above is an anomaly!)
Unless they are inside a bank, an airport or a shopping map most Colombian ATMs are in a small self-contained room (where there’s likely to be air conditioning) with a door.
Some Colombian ATMs will offer you the option of language when you insert your card.
If no options for language are offered, then English “translations” are usually underneath the Spanish.
- It is normal to leave your card in the machine for the duration of the transaction.
- If you want to make more than one transaction it is usual to have to remove and reinsert your card for the next withdrawal.
- Select withdrawal
- Select which type of card / account (checking/credit etc.)
- Select the amount you wish to withdraw. It is usual for the machine to NOT indicate your or their limit, but just to advise that you can’t take that much out if they don’t allow you to take that much out. Where known we have indicated the limits for foreign cards.
- You may be offered the option to “check the cost of withdrawal”. This never worked for us.
- You will usually be offered the opportunity to be charged in either Colombian pesos or in your home currency. ALWAYS accept Colombian pesos, you will get a MUCH better exchange rate. As an example on a withdrawal of approximately 900,000 COP, by accepting to be charged in GBP, the cost would have been an extra GBP 5.00.
Always ask for a receipt.
Always put your card and your money away, zipped back into your wallet and bag before leaving the ATM.
Comparison of The Best ATMs to use in Colombia
This section outlines the ATM fees in Colombia.
|Bank Name||Maximum amount (per withdrawal) for foreign cards||Fee per withdrawal|
|BBVA||300,000 (x 3 per day)||ZERO fees**|
|Colpatria||900,000 (max 2.7 million/ day)||ZERO Fees***|
|Banco Caja Social||700,000||Reported to be zero fees, although we were not able to use successfully|
|CorpBanco||400,000||Reported to be zero fees although we didn’t find a CorpBanco in our travels|
|ATH Cajeros Automaticos||600,000||10,500 COP|
|Banco de Bogota||600,000||10,500 COP|
|Banco Popular||600,000||10,500 COP|
The following are Colombia ATM fee reports from readers with the date of the note so that you can use this further information to decide on which ATM to use in Colombia.
* 23 Jul 2019 – Davivienda doesn’t charge a fee, but for some reason, they use a terrible exchange rate. Under 3,000 COP per USD when the mid-market rate is 3,200 and all the currency exchange windows offer 3,000.
** 23 Jul 2019 – BBVA only dispenses 50k bills, even for a 100k withdrawal.
*** 23 Jul 2019 – Colpatria – first 100K is dispensed in 20k bills. The current maximums for Colpatria are 900k per transaction and 2.7M per day.
**** 27 January 2020: Pinchita – allowing 800,000 with zero fees.
In the course of our 6 weeks in Colombia, we’ve made a total of 21 ATM withdrawals. We had one hiccough where communications between Starling Bank and Colombia were down and we had to use a backup card, but through management of where we used ATMs, apart from the hiccough, we paid zero fees to Colombian banks.
This meant that we saved USD $87.85 (GBP 65.85) on fees to the Colombian banks by using the table above.
It’s well worth shopping around and spending a few minutes to make your dollars go a little further.
Currency Exchanges in Colombia
You’ll find currency exchanges in all major areas and even on the streets in border towns, but the exchange rate you get won’t be great, it does make an easy option for using up “end of country cash” or making sure you have a few notes in your hand as you walk into a new country.
We always travel with the XE currency converter app loaded on our smartphones, it’s a quick and easy way to understand costs in your home currency. You can download it here.
Travel Tips for Exploring Colombia
- Read about Colombia in these incredible books
- Get insurance for all your adventure Colombia Travel with WorldNomads
- Book the best Colombia tours and guides on GetYourGuide and Civitatis
- Book fabulous Colombia Foodie experiences with locals through Eatwith
- Save money in Colombia with a Wise debit card
- Book Buses in Colombia with Bookaway
- Book accommodation in Colombia with Booking.com and Hostelworld
Final Words on ATMs in Colombia
We hope this article on Colombian ATM costs helps with your budgeting and travel experiences in Colombia. Let us know if your experience is different or if you have updates on the costs of cash withdrawals in Colombia!
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