Taking a trip to Chile anytime soon? While credit and debit cards are picking up steam in Chile, you’re definitely going to need cash while you’re there. Getting cash out is as easy as finding an ATM, and with these tips, that should be no problem for you. Read on to learn what you need to know about using ATMs in Chile.
ATMs in Chile are widespread, easily found at banks, in shopping centers and at gas stations. Even in rural areas, it shouldn’t be too hard to find an ATM when you need one. Most of Chile’s ATMs operate on two main networks: Redf and Redbanc.
Websites for local banks and ATM locators in Chile tend to be in Spanish, so unless you’re fluent, these online tools may not be too helpful. However, you can use these tools to find an ATM that shares your card’s network:
- Maestro ATM locator
- Mastercard and Cirrus ATM locator
- Visa, Plus, and Plus Alliance ATM locator
- Discover ATM locator
- American Express ATM locator
Most US, UK and Australian cards should work in Chile, though they may not work at all ATMs. Check the logos on the ATM to see if it matches your card’s network. When you use a foreign card at a Chilean ATM, you’ll have to select the foreign transaction option on the screen to continue.
Travellers report that both chip and pin and magnetic swipe cards work without issues in most Chilean ATMs. Your card should have a standard, four-digit PIN to increase the odds that it will be accepted.
Typically, the maximum withdrawal at a Chilean ATM will be around 200,000 Chilean Pesos. If you need to withdraw more than that in one day, you may need to visit multiple ATMs and take out a few different withdrawals.
Before travelling to any foreign country, it’s a good idea to get in touch with your bank and let them know where you’re going, when and for how long. That way, you won’t end up with your card shut off for what the bank thinks is suspicious activity, leaving you without access to your money. You can also check to see if your bank has a daily spending or cash withdrawal limit, and ask for a temporary increase for your trip if you need it.
Chilean ATMs are infamous for their steep fees, especially for foreign users. Here’s how you can best avoid or reduce them.
When using your foreign debit card at a Chilean ATM, you may be offered a seemingly helpful service: The ATM will display your transaction in your home currency instead of in Chilean Pesos, saving you from having to do the math of the conversion. This dynamic currency conversion “service” actually allows the ATM to set its own exchange rate, usually poorer than the mid-market rate, or the exchange rate you see on Google, so you end up paying an extra hidden fee. You should always choose to view transactions in the local currency to avoid this.
Almost all local bank ATMs in Chile charge fees for use, especially if you’re completing a foreign transaction. Your best bet to avoid these is to find a card that offers reimbursement for ATM fees. Also, make sure your bank does not charge withdrawal fees or foreign transaction fees -- if it does, you may want to get a new account to use for your travels. Try to make larger, less frequent withdrawals to cut down on per-transaction fees, and always choose to complete the transaction in Chilean Pesos.
If you have access to a Chilean bank account, you can skip the ATM fees and transfer money there ahead of time with TransferWise. TransferWise moves money at the mid-market rate, with no markups or hidden fees. All you pay is a small, fair transfer fee that’s spelled out upfront. You can also use a TransferWise borderless multi-currency account to send money to Chile.
While you’ll likely need to have some cash on hand while you’re visiting Chile, it’s not too hard to get. With these tricks in hand, you should have no problem using ATMs without losing too much to fees. Good luck on your trip, and safe travels!
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