Foreign Currency Exchange in Sto. Dom.: COP (Colombian Peso)?

Lucas61

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Hello All,

My wife and I are planning a trip to Medellin, Colombia. As you know, it is neither wise nor comfortable to arrive in a foreign country with only a plastic debit card and no cash.
I would like to amass a quantity of COP before we leave. Banreservas, where I have my account, and three Casas de Cambio that I have visited have none.

Any leads or will we have to wait until we go to the airport?
 

Lucas61

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I recommend taking a small pocket size calculator with you. I was there a few months ago and their currency is done in ten's of thousands. Scary at first since it feels like you are spending a fortune. Truth is, it was very favorable to a tourist.
Yes, I have a sense of that based on the reading I've done. For example, if I google 1 DOP to COP I get 82.53. You can just move the decimal point once each for mutliples of 10, so 10 DOP = 825.3 COP; 100 DOP = 8253.00 COP; 1000 DOP = 82,530.00 COP, etc. On Wiki Travel I see a room with A/C in the poorer part of the city, relatively speaking, that costs 35,000 COP per night. 35,000/82.53 = RD$ 424 per day, a great price for us. So when we are their I will be using a calculator on a regular basis for daily purchases to convert to DOP, the currency I think in since I live in the D.R., to know if I'm getting a good deal or a bad deal.
 
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Lucas61

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I just take $US cash and change it in Colombia. https://www.dolar-colombia.com/casasdecambio
This is a great link. Thanks. I have printed it and I'm definitely taking it with me. For other readers, when you click on a city, for example, Medellin, it gives you a map with a list of money exchanges and addresses. Plus it gives you the daily dollar rate. A great URL.

Yes, I think that taking USD and changing to COP, probably at the Medellin airport, is what I'll end up doing. If I lived in the U.S. I'd have USD ready-to-hand. But since I live in the D.R., I don't have access to USD, so I must buy dollars with pesos. And the dollar is weak against the peso at this moment. There's no other way, except to buy dollars with pesos here, right?
 

Lucas61

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Yes, I have a sense of that based on the reading I've done. For example, if I google 1 DOP to COP I get 82.53. You can just move the decimal point once each for mutliples of 10, so 10 DOP = 825.3 COP; 100 DOP = 8253.00 COP; 1000 DOP = 82,530.00 COP, etc. On Wiki Travel I see a room with A/C in the poorer part of the city, relatively speaking, that costs 35,000 COP per night. 35,000/82.53 = RD$ 424 per day, a great price for us. So when we are their I will be using a calculator on a regular basis for daily purchases to convert to DOP, the currency I think in since I live in the D.R., to know if I'm getting a good deal or a bad deal.
OP late edit: Change "their" to "there." What else would you expect from a former Engish teacher?
 

Lucas61

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Yes, I have a sense of that based on the reading I've done. For example, if I google 1 DOP to COP I get 82.53. You can just move the decimal point once each for mutliples of 10, so 10 DOP = 825.3 COP; 100 DOP = 8253.00 COP; 1000 DOP = 82,530.00 COP, etc. On Wiki Travel I see a room with A/C in the poorer part of the city, relatively speaking, that costs 35,000 COP per night. 35,000/82.53 = RD$ 424 per day, a great price for us. So when we are their I will be using a calculator on a regular basis for daily purchases to convert to DOP, the currency I think in since I live in the D.R., to know if I'm getting a good deal or a bad deal.
OP continued: wikitravel.org is one of my "go to" sites for plentiful and detailed and free tourist information. This is the hotel I was referencing:

EL CENTRO
Most of the inexpensive hotels in Medellín are located in El Centro. It's a vibrant area during the daytime, but at night becomes a bit sketchy, be aware.

Hotel Conquistadores, Carrera 54 #49-31, ☎ +574 512 3232, [37]. An affordable and safe hotel in the center of town. All the basic amenities, including broadcast TV, hot water, lockboxes. Restaurant on site. Extremely friendly and helpful staff. Recommended. 36,000 COP for a single room.
 

Lucas61

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OP continued: wikitravel.org is one of my "go to" sites for plentiful and detailed and free tourist information. This is the hotel I was referencing:
Ooops! Could not continue after quote . . . Provided that this information is up to date (need a Plan B at least), to me, this is a great choice for the budget traveler (me, retired on a pension). So, unsurprisingly, "El Centro" is the center of town, a place I always like to check out when I go to a new city. I mean, there are reasons why the center is the center. A restarurant on site is great. As a matter of security, I never go out at night. It'd be great to be able to catch a bite to eat on premises, depending on hours, etc.

As I comb through this website, I take copious notes, then print hard copy and take them with me. That becomes my travel guide that fits me and what I'm interested in. I'm wondering if any members here have recommended or used this site for the D.R. I have not vetted it for that purpose.
 

Lucas61

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For currency exchange or to stay? For currency exchange, it looks like I'll be using the airport with U.S. dollars purchased here. I'll get the final word on that when my wife and I go to the Colombian Embassy in Sto. Dom. to ask a few questions. For example, we want a confirmation that my wife (Dominicana) needs nothing to enter the country except a RT ticket and her passport. So then I'll ask if COP are available in Sto. Dom. I'm tending to think that the answer is no.

If to stay, it looks good, but that's way beyond my budget, the rooms being more than RD$10.000 per day. We're looking at rooms for around RD$500 per night in the area of El Centro. When we splurge in a middle class area, we're looking at around RD$1,500 per night. I have no problem staying in a poor(er) area as long as I obey my one security rule: Don't go out at night. That's one reason why I'm choosing a hotel with a restaurant inside . . .
 

bob saunders

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For currency exchange or to stay? For currency exchange, it looks like I'll be using the airport with U.S. dollars purchased here. I'll get the final word on that when my wife and I go to the Colombian Embassy in Sto. Dom. to ask a few questions. For example, we want a confirmation that my wife (Dominicana) needs nothing to enter the country except a RT ticket and her passport. So then I'll ask if COP are available in Sto. Dom. I'm tending to think that the answer is no.

If to stay, it looks good, but that's way beyond my budget, the rooms being more than RD$10.000 per day. We're looking at rooms for around RD$500 per night in the area of El Centro. When we splurge in a middle class area, we're looking at around RD$1,500 per night. I have no problem staying in a poor(er) area as long as I obey my one security rule: Don't go out at night. That's one reason why I'm choosing a hotel with a restaurant inside
 

D'Arcy (Apostropheman)

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If the Op is concerned about not having the correct currency to cover transport from the airport to the accommodations they choose, which IMO is a fair concern, then it's not unreasonable to take a hit on the airport exchange and get $100 USD worth of local currency, or whatever amount is necessary. Then, once they get to their home base a cambio or bank will be easy enough to find for a larger transaction at current rates of exchange.

As for the costs of accommodation, while it looks like an interesting hotel the OP could easily find a fully furnished apartment for about half of the cost, and have the option to cook. Cheaper accommodation is possible too with not too much effort, with or without a kitchen.
 

Lucas61

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Actually 8000 pesos Dominican, but why quibble over 2000 pesos, https://www.booking.com/searchresults.en-us.html?aid=1250365;label=olr-bing:c768f358fd1d1622594a90472796e853;sid=bee75ff222cec8d46a39249fdde47e9f;checkin=2022-09-20;checkout=2022-09-21;city=-592318;highlighted_hotels=4548074;hlrd=with_av;keep_landing=1;redirected=1;source=hotel&room1=A,A,; Certainly, there are cheaper. When my wife and I went , using our Dominican passports there were no issues in Customs, only fill out the paperwork.
Glad to hear that there were no Customs' issues. I don't like surprises--not of that kind, anyway.
 

Lucas61

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If the Op is concerned about not having the correct currency to cover transport from the airport to the accommodations they choose, which IMO is a fair concern, then it's not unreasonable to take a hit on the airport exchange and get $100 USD worth of local currency, or whatever amount is necessary. Then, once they get to their home base a cambio or bank will be easy enough to find for a larger transaction at current rates of exchange.

As for the costs of accommodation, while it looks like an interesting hotel the OP could easily find a fully furnished apartment for about half of the cost, and have the option to cook. Cheaper accommodation is possible too with not too much effort, with or without a kitchen.
I'm glad you distinguished between currency exchange at the airport versus a different venue. I was planning to change ALL at the airport. Now it seems a better idea to only change a little for a few days, then look for a better place. Do you have a recommendation? It's strange. Here in Sto. Dom. I recently bought Euro with DOP. In some cases I received a better rate of exchange at a private "casa de cambio" on El Conde than I did at Banreservas where I have an account. I thought it would have been the opposite. Lots of "gotchas" in this money exchange business. I suppose that in Medellin, I could query two places, one a bank and the other a currency exchange, private, and compare . . . Oh, forgot to mention, it used to be the case at SDQ (Las Americas) that as soon as you de-boarded the aircraft there was an exchange with an unfavorable rate. But if you walked further and exited the secure area, there was another exchange with a better rate!
 

Riva_31

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I visited Bogota last month and my sugestion its to take dollars and exchange small amounts and pay everything you can with the credit card, at the airport the best rate I get was 3,950 x 1, and to calculate the local prices I used as reference exchange rate 4,000 x 1. Most of the time I used Uber also with charge to my credit card.

Keep in mind always when using your credit card tell local currency and 1 payment, if you tell them charge in dollars you will be paying more dollars as they will be using a 3rd party to make the conversion, when you pay in local currency your bank make the conversion and you get better exchange rate in your favor.
 
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Lucas61

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I visited Bogota last month and my sugestion its to take dollars and exchange small amounts and pay everything you can with the credit card, at the airport the best rate I get was 3,950 x 1, and to calculate the local prices I used as reference exchange rate 4,000 x 1. Most of the time I used Uber also with charge to my credit card.

Keep in mind always when using your credit card tell local currency and 1 payment, if you tell them charge in dollars you will be paying more dollars as they will be using a 3rd party to make the conversion, when you pay in local currency your bank make the conversion and you get better exchange rate in your favor.
Thanks for this. I will hardly use my debit card, if at all. The non-tourist hotels we will stay at cost about 15 USD per day and do not take credit cards. Further, I will take USD cash with me and exchange there. Here's something I can't figure out. Right now, for example, if I buy USD here in the D.R. I will be paying RD$ 54.54 per 1 USD, so I will be paying some commission. Suppose I did not take cash with me and bought COP with my debit card. There will be a commission of some kind. Does it matter whether I pay the commission on this end or the other? I don't know. Anywy, I feel more comfortable taking USD cash with me and exchanging directly for COP there rather than using a card.

Here's something I've never understood. Maybe you or other members can clarify. If I go to a known online entity to determine rate of exchange, say, xe.com, then when I go to buy currency, I never get that rate. So why does it exist if you can never get it? My best guess is that this is the "market rate" and the difference between that and what you get is the profit of the money changer. So that what you must do is: a. Recognize that you will always exchange for less than the market rate, b. if not cost of what you buy is significantly more than what you are expecting from the market rate, than that means that that money exchange is overcharging and you should find another. Am I reading the situation right or am I missing something?

When you said that the value of COP to USD was 4,000:1, were you rounding off? Today that market rate value is 4423:1. When you said that your best exchange rate was 3950:1 versus the market rate of 4000:1, that means that you were paying 50 COP on the dollar right? So the difference was 50. The conclusion I draw from this is that when I go online for the market rate, the amount I should pay should be a little less but very close. Correct?

In your opinion, where is it best to buy USD in Colombia if I do that? The airport or a bank or a money exchange?
 

cavok

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Those online currency exchange rates like XE are international FOREX rates. You usually aren't going to be able to quite get that rate - depending on where you are. In general, you're not going to find the best rate at the airport. Change enough for a day or two the change the rest when you get in town. In general, debit cards are not going to give you the best rate (there are some exceptions).

Below is a link to the central bank in Colombia with the official rate. If you can get within 1% of that(say 50 pesos), you're doing well. That's only about $10USD on every $1000 USD you spend.

 

Lucas61

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Jun 13, 2014
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Those online currency exchange rates like XE are international FOREX rates. You usually aren't going to be able to quite get that rate - depending on where you are. In general, you're not going to find the best rate at the airport. Change enough for a day or two the change the rest when you get in town. In general, debit cards are not going to give you the best rate (there are some exceptions).

Below is a link to the central bank in Colombia with the official rate. If you can get within 1% of that(say 50 pesos), you're doing well. That's only about $10USD on every $1000 USD you spend.

This is very helpful. Thank you for the link. And this too: I will calculate 1% of the current rate, then use this value has my target.
 

HDR

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Nov 21, 2012
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Hello All,

My wife and I are planning a trip to Medellin, Colombia. As you know, it is neither wise nor comfortable to arrive in a foreign country with only a plastic debit card and no cash.
I would like to amass a quantity of COP before we leave. Banreservas, where I have my account, and three Casas de Cambio that I have visited have none.

Any leads or will we have to wait until we go to the airport?

Where are you located? I actually have about 100 USD in COP. I was supposed to go back this year so I did not bother to change them, but then plans changed.