The Blog

Exchanging money in Uruguay – it couldn't be simpler

10 pesos for a pee


Uruguay pesos. uruguay money exchangeExchanging cash is cheap and easy. You can change money in an exchange bureau (cambio) or a bank.

  • You do not need to show ID.
  • You won’t be charged commission.
  • The best exchange rate is given for US dollars with Euros a close second. There is very little difference between buying and selling US dollars.

Getting the best rate

The National Bank (BROU) is the classic reference Uruguayans check when they are going to exchange money. To see the regular rates locally, look for the table called “Cotizaciones” (Rates). The rates shown are for buying and selling of US dollars, Argentina pesos, Brazilian reales and Euros.

Generally exchange bureaux (except for the thieving hounds at the airport) offer similar rates. I have noticed that the exchanges in some of the posher neighbourhoods like Carrasco and Pocitos are less competitive than in the city centre.

tipIf you are exchanging more than a hundred dollars ask the teller what their best rate is (say, “Cual es tu mejor cambio para 200 USD?”). You will invariably get up apx 0.25 pesos more for your dollar, which can mount up.

 

No commission charged

Take advantage of this. If you have excess Brazilian reales or Argentinian pesos, it might well be worth your while changing them into dollars before you move on, given you don’t have to pay commission.

If you exchange too many pesos, it is worth changing your excess back into USD before you move on to your next destination.

Do not exchange money at the airport

Best Montevideo GuidebookThe airport has very bad rates (paying out 20% less on average). If you need money straight away, withdraw money at one of the airport ATMs and plan to exchange in the city centre.

For other money-saving tips like this, you should really consider buying my Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo. You’ll be supporting this site and getting a great travelbook that will save you money as well as make your stay in Uruguay really unique.

Withdrawing cash at ATMs

ATMs dispense Uruguayan pesos – and US dollars!

Yes, so different to neighbouring Argentina, where is it virtually impossible to get hold of dollars.

There are ATMs in the airports, bus stations and at the port in Montevideo. Be aware that outside the principal cities and larger towns, ATMs are hard to find. Along the coast in Rocha, pick up cash in Chuy or La Paloma.

Most taxi drivers will not accept 1000 pesos bills. Withdraw an amount that will give you change eg 3800 pesos, rather than 4000.

Are you having problems withdrawing money from ATMs?

Exchange opening and closing times

Exchanges in Montevideo are open regular business hours, typically 9am till 7pm Monday to Friday. To exchange on weekends or until 10pm, go to a shopping centre exchange house.

Note banks only open in the afternoon from 1-5pm.

Do Uruguayan businesses accept dollars or Argentine pesos?

It is best to pay with Uruguayan pesos however many businesses or even taxis are likely to accept smaller dollar bills if you are in a tight spot.

Colonia is the exception as it depends a great deal on day-trip tourism from Buenos Aires. Virtually all businesses there accept Argentine pesos and dollars as a matter of course at a reasonable exchange rate.

During the summer time, beach town businesses are also usually fine to accept non-Uruguayan currencies, but you may want to check the rate that that they will give you.

Larger supermarkets will usually accept payment in dollars, as long as you are ok with receiving your change in pesos. Their rates are normally the market ones.

Don’t fall into the common mistake, thinking that what applies for Argentina is the same for Uruguay. For all the reasons mentioned above, this is just another confirmation that Argentina’s (crazy monetary) situation and Uruguay’s are completely unrelated.

The Uruguayan govt is also offering all tourists the 22% VAT back directly when you pay with your credit card.

10 pesos for a pee. The sign for pesos is the same as the sign for dollars. uruguay money exchange
This carnival goer will need to pay 10 pesos to use the bathroom – not 10 dollars!

Why do I see the price in dollars everywhere?

In Uruguay, $ is the symbol for … pesos!

The symbol for US dollars is U$S or US$ or USD.

However, Uruguayans, like the citizens of many other Latin American nations, typically save in dollars. So don’t be surprised to see property prices, rental values and the price of electrical and luxury goods labelled in dollars.

[Last updated: February 3 2017]

37 Comments

  1. Maria

    August 21, 2017

    Hi Karen. Would you recommend withdrawing USD and then converting to pesos or just withdrawing pesos from an ATM? Thanks!

    Reply
  2. Janey kellock

    April 2, 2017

    Hello Miss Guru, im very happy to have just found your very informative website.
    My partner and I are travelling to Uraguay, and would like to transfer us dollars cash at either a bank or a postoffice. We have several credit cards and an Australian bank account. Lots of ID passports etc. I have a British passport. We dont have Uragyian residency.
    Thankyou so much.
    Kind Regards Janey K

    Reply
  3. Sandra McKenzie

    March 30, 2017

    Can I change australian dollars into uruguayan pesos at the Cambios

    Reply
  4. Karen

    March 8, 2017

    Hi,

    I don’t see any comment about Canadian dollars. Has anyone been able to get pesos in Canada in order to arrive at the airport prepared?

    I’m going to Uruguay for a short holiday. I’ve used my Debit card from the Royal Bank in other countries in the world but wondered if others have also it in Uruguay.

    Are other people generally ( and carefully) carrying “extra” cash because of the limitations? Do the shoestring type hostels take anything except cash? I see the acronym VAT used here. I’m not sure what that means. Visitors pay tax and locals don’t? Odd that plastic is cheaper than cash??

    I have just begun my research so pardon my lack of knowledge…what is a blue dollar?

    Has anyone traveled in April?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • The Guru of Guru'Guay

      March 10, 2017

      Hi Karen, let’s see.. Uruguayan currency bought elsewhere is rare and hence the exchange rate very poor. I suggest you withdraw pesos once you arrive at the airport in Uruguay using an ATM. Debit cards are accepted in most places but I did have a guest who had a problem initially withdrawing from an ATM with a debit card. He was eventually able to though. Try to bring a VISA card. Mastercard and Amex are rarely accepted. It is always a good idea to travel with some dollars on you in my experience – I usually carry between 100 and 300 in a safe place. VAT is value added tax – the tax charged on goods you buy in a shop. Locals of course pay tax. The Uruguayan govt is trying to encourage use of plastic so that they can monitor that businesses are paying their taxes. The blue dollar in Argentina no longer exists. April is a great month to travel – check out when is the best time to travel to Uruguay. Hope this all helps. Remember if you find my stuff useful, you can support Guru’Guay so that I can help you and other travelers into the future! All the best and enjoy your stay — Karen

      Reply
  5. rana

    September 1, 2016

    Is it smarter to get usd from an atm (to later exchange) or the Uruguayan peso?

    Reply
    • Welshwitch in Uruguay

      September 1, 2016

      Hi Rana, definitely smarter to get US dollars and exchange them. You can get out up to 300 dollars in an withdrawal at Banred, whereas you can only get out maximum 5000 pesos. All the best, Karen PS. Help us exist by checking out how you can support our work.

      Reply
  6. Erica

    August 22, 2016

    Hi there! Just to clarify, do the ATMs in Uruguay dispense $100 bills, and if so, is that every single time? If I have a VISA card will I be able to withdraw from the RedBrou ATMs? Does anybody know what the limit is to withdraw from those ATMs if I do not have a limit from my bank in the US? Thanks for the help, this is very enlightening 🙂

    Reply
  7. Julian

    November 20, 2015

    To pay BY card -e.g. at a hostel for a couple of nights, is also a good way to go, I wonder?.
    By the way, last week Santander allowed me to take money out (a tiny bit); then the next day it didn’t. allow me o take more out. Strange
    Apparently, you have to look for the ‘Visa’ sign, but occasionally you see a ‘Cirrus’ or ‘Maestro’ sign… or was I dreaming that!?

    Reply
    • Welshwitch in Uruguay

      November 21, 2015

      Hi Julian, it’s good to use an international credit card to pay for hotels because then you get th 22%VAT off. Best Karen

      Reply
  8. Alun

    November 15, 2015

    Bore da welshwitch!

    We are coming to BA (a few days) from Wales, and spending a week in Uruguay before heading to Patagonia (a few weeks) Would you advise we load up with argentine pesos in Montevideo using us$ at blue rates?

    Diolch a chofion gorau!

    Reply
    • Welshwitch in Uruguay

      November 15, 2015

      Hey Alun, hwyl! The last times I’ve wanted to buy AR pesos in Uruguay, I’ve been able to buy that at almost the blue rate from any exchange here in Uruguay, and here it’s perfectly legal. You could wait to get to Argentina and perhaps get a slightly better rate, but only if you have a reliable place to exchange at. Otherwise, yes, make it easier for yourself and change in Uruguay beforehand. — Have a great stay! Karen

      Reply
  9. Olli

    October 13, 2015

    Hi There,
    last week I visited Colonia also to get some USD. Fortunate, that I found a trustful Porteno to help me with Dollar blue. I am having 13.000 ARS right now. BUT i have to fully cancle my stay plans due to private reasons. How can I go Forward to revert the ARS back to Dollar? On Thursday I am back in Colonia to get back home oversea. ‘Do URU buys back ARS for USD? Or do I Need to go ARS–>URU–>USD? Grateful for any helping Hand/advise. Thanks and best regards, Olli

    Reply
    • Welshwitch in Uruguay

      October 13, 2015

      Hi Olli – any Uruguayan exchange house will exchange you ARS to USD. But as you are probably aware you will not get a great rate. Good luck!

      Reply
      • Carl

        November 14, 2015

        Hi there! Is it still possible to withdraw dollars as a tourist(Swedish) in Colonia? I´ve read that they stopped it for Argentineans but didn’t get if thats for everyone.

        Thanks!

        /Carl

        Reply
        • Welshwitch in Uruguay

          November 15, 2015

          Yes, Carl. Visitors to Uruguay can withdraw both dollars and pesos from the ATMs. Enjoy! — Karen

          Reply
          • Sebastian

            November 18, 2015

            Hello There… WelshWitch? I’m in Argentina and running low on dollars… I’ve a planed trip to Uruguay for new year. Will it be possible for me to withdraw US dollars from ATM’s in there. Using my UK cards? Thank’s for the feedbak!!

          • Welshwitch in Uruguay

            November 18, 2015

            Hello Sebastian, yes, it will be possible! However do remember that there is a limit to the amount of money you can withdraw on any one day. All the best – The Welsh Witch in Uruguay

  10. patrick

    September 18, 2015

    Hi
    I am getting to Uruguay on next november where I have planed to spend one month.
    Do you know what is the ATM fee for withdrawal pesos in ATM.ie I want 4000$ so how much is being my card charged, 4000$ or a little bit more , I have not talked about the fee of my own bank.
    Thanks for you help
    Patrick

    Reply
    • Welshwitch in Uruguay

      September 18, 2015

      Hi Patrick, I’m afraid I don’t know. You can probably expect it to be not more than 4 USD per transaction in the worst case. But maybe someone else who has used the ATMs recently can advise. Best — Karen

      Reply
    • Jacqi

      November 10, 2015

      Im currently in colonia and was just charged a steep $6 ATM fee for making a withdrawal with an USA debit card, in addition to what my own bank will charge me 🙁

      Reply
  11. […] Exchanging money in Uruguay? Essential tips – Guru’guay – Did you know that Uruguay exchange bureaux don’t charge commission and that ATMs dispense US dollars? Everything you need to know about exchanging money. […]

    Reply
  12. Paul

    July 24, 2015

    A bit more information about exchanging Argentinian Pesos in Uruguay.

    The board prices in Cambios are terrible as Karen says. But I asked at some Cambios in Colonia if they could do a better rate for changing a large amount of pesos. The best I was offered was 2 Uruguay to 1 Argentinian (typical board prices were from 1.3 to 1.6). This was when I was getting around 13.0 (blue rate) and the Uru to $US was about 27. So not terrible, but not worth changing your $US into pesos with an aim of winning out.

    Restaurants and souvenir shops in Colonia were also using a rate of 2.0 so if you had a small amount of pesos left over you can use them to buy lunch at a reasonable rate. But overall better to not have any pesos left when you leave Argentina if you can avoid it from what I can gather.

    Reply
  13. Treavor

    December 10, 2014

    Thanks for all the tips! In the post and comments. Considering visiting in March with a friend from Australia and cannot wait!

    Reply
  14. Daniel

    November 20, 2014

    Hey I’m in buenos aires and have been able to take advantage of the blue dollar. I am heading to Montevideo in a week and was wondering how easy it is to exchange ars pesos into uyu pesos. Also would the exchange rate be close to the official rate?

    Reply
    • Welshwitch in Uruguay

      November 20, 2014

      Hi Daniel, US dollars get a really good exchange rate here whereas Argentinian pesos get a terrible rate. I am pretty sure that they have the blue dollar rate clear here and so can’t see you making money that way – otherwise EVERYONE here would be doing this already 🙂 Have a great time while you are here. Oh, what’s actually smart to do money-wise is to use your foreign credit card when you are here in restaurants and get the 22% VAT back. http://guruguay.net/use-credit-card-get-vat-2015/ Best Karen

      Reply
      • ira

        October 27, 2015

        i plan to visit uraguay before argentina. can I purchase argentine pesos at a better than the official rate while there so I have cash when I arrive in argentina?

        Reply
        • Welshwitch in Uruguay

          October 28, 2015

          Hey Ira, yes, your plan is GOOD. A couple of weeks ago I went to Argentina and bought AR pesos with US dollars at a regular exchange house in Montevideo at virtually the blue rate.

          Reply
  15. Lillie Faulkner

    November 14, 2014

    Can I cash an American check in uruguay ?

    Reply
    • Welshwitch in Uruguay

      November 14, 2014

      Hi Lillie, my only experience is with clients at our guesthouse who have wished to change travelers cheques and have only been able to do so in a few specific banks, and then have a substantial commission charged. So I would expect it to be virtually impossible to cash a regular US check in Uruguay. Best, Karen

      Reply
      • Hp

        November 21, 2014

        Yes, it was very hard to find an office who changed me AmericanExpress Travel checks to USD! The official charge is 2% and one requested an additional of 12%, what means a change loss of 14%. This this a rip off! Finally Delta Services Rio negro 1341 (closed to the rip off) did it for totally of 4%.

        The other issue is in case using a Maestro & ATM there will be an additional charge of 145 Uru Pesos and then you have only a maximum of 4000-200 the withdraw. Additional on your home bank a fee about 5USD will also be applied.

        How to deal with Maestro & ATM & USD as a maximum of 300 value I do not know whether this 145 Uru Pesos may still valid.

        Hp

        Reply
  16. Barbie-jo murray

    October 28, 2014

    Hi, I arrived in colonia today and I am trying to withdraw cash from various Atm’s using my uk issued visa debit and also my visa credit card…. Each time it will not allow me to. I have contacted my uk bank and they said that they are allowing transactions on my card. Any ideas please would be greatly appreciated!

    Reply
    • Welshwitch in Uruguay

      October 30, 2014

      Hi Barbie-jo I have seen this happen with some of our guests, it is really annoying. Uruguay has two ATM networks – Red BROU and Banred. Make sure you try out both – and good luck! Karen

      Reply
    • Andres

      November 17, 2014

      Hi, I was able to contact Banred in Uruguay and the problem is that since October there was an “update” with the Visa network and Banred ATM in Uruguay. They told me that they have very few ATM working with Visa International network currently (also PLUS).
      Some of the ATM’s working are: 18 de Julio and Julio Herrera (Santander bank)
      “Tres Cruces” Shopping mall and “Punta Carretas” Shopping mall.
      You can only withdraw from 11 to 7pm! (weird)
      You can call Banred at this number to find more ATM’s connected to Visa in your area:
      29161234 code 171 -173 or 175.

      Hope it helps.
      Andres.

      Reply
  17. Diana Boles

    July 5, 2014

    Very good advice, especially about the airport. They give horrible rates. It takes a little getting used to with the money symbol for pesos and dollars. Thanks, again.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.