Exchanging money in Uruguay – it couldn’t be simpler

Did you know that Uruguay money exchanges don't charge commission and that ATMs dispense US dollars? Everything you need to know about exchanging money.
By Karen A Higgs
Last updated on April 27, 2018
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Exchanging 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.

TIP If 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

The airport and ferries have very bad rates (paying out 20% less on average). If you need money straight away, withdraw money at an ATM in the port or airport and plan to exchange in the city centre.

For other money-saving tips like this, check out the Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo. (Click the link to download the digital version or click the image right to buy it on Amazon)

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.

Banks only open in the afternoon from 1-5pm.

So why do the ATMs dispense dollars?

It may seem strange but cash machines in Uruguay dispense both Uruguayan pesos and US dollars.

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

This carnival goer will need to pay 10 pesos to use the bathroom – not 10 dollars! Photo by Gonzalo Viera Azpiroz
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58 Responses

  1. Hello Karen, I have an Indian Forex card with USD loaded in it, can I withdraw US Dollar Bills from ATMs in Colonia or Montevideo? If yes then what would be the daily limit of withdrawal and charges per withdrawal? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Sandeep, I’m afraid I have no idea. You’ll need to check with your bank. Or perhaps another Indian visitor might be able to share their experience? Best, Karen

  2. I have traveled to Uruguay many times with my first trip in 1988 my last trip was in Aug 2022. I have always found Uruguay more expensive than say Argentina, Brazil or Chile. My last trip the hotels were reasonable but restaurants and shopping were more expensive than Spain, the US, France or Portugal. Rent cars were cheap but gas was $8 a gallon. You can easily blow a 20 dollar bill at lunch pretty much anywhere. The difference between a really nice place like Tandory and a average place is not that much. Most of the neighboring countries can’t afford Uruguayan prices. Especially Argentina. I didn’t see many European or Americans…most of the tourists were domestic ones. Still Uruguay is a fantastic place to visit.

    1. Hi there, yes, agreed. Uruguay is a pretty expensive country in general, and particularly by Latin American standards. I’d say that economies (and lives!) are cyclical and that is the case here including where our neighbours are concerned. I’ve lived in Uruguay for 23 years and have relatives in Argentina. There have been times when they’ve come to Uruguay to purchase some particular goods because they were cheaper here. And times when we go there to purchase things more cheaply. But overall we’re more expensive. Fortunately we’re also significantly more stable. Glad you have enjoyed your visits! — Karen

  3. Bonjour,
    Je vous remercie pour les échanges que vous faîtes, c’est super.
    Ns arrivons en Uruguay en Février, avec 60 Euros. Comme j’ai vu qu’on peut retirer des Dollars ou Pesos aux distributeurs, je ne veux pas Prendre trop d’Euros… Est-ce une bonne solution !
    En 2022 aux Mexique, on pouvait changer directement nos Euros, ds des Cabines de change (Il y a en pleins) a des taux très intéressant.
    Pensez-vous que je puisses trouver le même système en Uruguay ?
    Je vous remercie bcp.
    Dommage que le livre ne soit pas en Français.

    1. Bonjour Nikie,
      Non, je crains que ce système n’existe pas en Uruguay. Si vous voulez changer des euros en pesos, vous devrez vous rendre dans un bureau de change (cambio) ou dans une banque.
      Salutations,
      Federico

  4. Hi Guru :)! Thanks for your information. Do you have some updates about this topic? Do you think is better to go directly to the banck and ask for a cash advance or just atm? Thanks a lot!

    1. Hi Florentina, I’m sorry I only just saw your message now. Most people continue to use ATMs, as far as I am aware. Best, best, Karen

      1. Bonjour, impossible d’avoir des Dollars à Montevideo.
        J’ai fait toutes les Banques depuis ,+10 jours
        Conseil, Il y a un seul distributeurs à L’Aéroport international de Montevideo qui donne des Dollars.

        1. Bonjour, c’est bizarre. Dans les banques, êtes-vous passé par la caissière ou par le guichet automatique?

  5. Hello. I’m finding it impossible to buy Uruguayan pesos here in the UK. Is it foolish to bring sterling into Uruguay to buy pesos and hence avoid exchanging twice?

    1. Hi Linda, a great question. Bring US dollars. They are very easy to change once you are here and will give you a much better exchange rate than pounds will (there is a tiny difference between buying and selling dollars). So if you have any pesos left over at the end then you can exchange back into dollars and lose very little. Best wishes and have a great holiday, Karen

      1. Will I receive a better exchange rate if I Western Union Wire myself USD to Montevideo instead of withdrawing from an ATM? Is there a way to find out what the current ATM exchange rate is?

        1. Hi Sue, Western Union charges 10% so I heard last week. Quite hefty. I would have thought it would be overall more expensive than using an ATM. The good news apparently is that the Uruguay bank BROU wrote to me (after I complained to the Ministry of Tourism) to say that they are considering upping the limit for visitor extractions, as it is currently ridiculously low — 7500 pesos or its equivalent in USD, and as dollars are only dispensed in 100 dollar bills, that means just 100 USD – with a 5-6 USD withdrawal fee to boot. As soon as I hear something I will post. Best, Karen

  6. Hello,

    Just a short update on this post. We are currently in Colonia, we tried to get cash (pesos) from several ATMs in town with our Canadian cards (Visa and Mastercard). All transactions were declined. Our debit card worked fine, but with a hefty transaction fee of 225 pesos.

    As for the casa de cambio, they DEMANDED our passports to change our leftover Argentinian pesos. I showed my Quebec driver’s license as an alternative, which was rejected.

    Strange…

    All the best,
    Thierry

    1. Hi Thierry, that is the first time I have heard of ID being asked for, let alone, demanded. Then again, Colonia is a bit of an island in Uruguay, being more closely connected with Buenos Aires than Montevideo… Sorry to read this. Best, Karen

  7. Hi again Karen,
    After reading a few more of your posts I decided to order your book from Amazon. Thank goodness my son has Prime! I’m still hoping you will answer my earlier post about money exchange/ ATMs
    Carol

  8. hi KAREN,
    your articles are very informative! I am a little confused on the money situation. We are landing at the Montevideo airport on Oct 25. We will take a bus to the Tres Cruces station so we will need some pesos immediately. Do I understand that it would be better to just get a small amount from an ATM then exchange some of our dollars at an exchange in town (possibly at Tres Cruces)? After 3 days in Montevideo we will be taking the ferry to Buenos Aires. Is it a good idea to get a small amount of Argentinian pesos while in Montevideo just in case we don’t find a working ATM immediately? I would NEVER have considered an exchange before reading your article… just proves you can’t make assumptions based on experiences in other countries! Thanks for any advice you can give!

    1. Hi Carol, sorry it’s taken me a while to answer your message and thanks for the lovely words. Oh no, I just realised you already arrived. So sorry! I was going to suggest to you to bring a few dollars to change at the airport (biting the bullet) as the ATMs will charge you about 6 USD per withdrawal. Then change the rest at the Tres Cruces bus station where the rate is as good as anywhere in town. Hope you have had a great stay! All the best, Karen

      1. Hi Karen, We had a lovely stay in Montevideo. Your book was very helpful. Before leaving on our trip I opened a Schwab checking account/Visa debit (no annual fee) which refunds ALL ATM fees worldwide…read about it on the travel blog One Mile At A Time. It has worked out very well. Other wise we did change some cash in Tres Cruces. It was especially helpful to get Argentinian pesos in advance. Keep up your good work!

        1. OMG, Carol, I totally have to check out Schwab! Thank you for the kind words, and–if you haven’t already–I’d really appreciate a review on Amazon for the guidebook. Reviews really help us get more readers. So glad you had a great time! — Karen

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

  10. 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

  11. 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.

    1. 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

  12. 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 🙂

  13. 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!?

  14. 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!

    1. 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

  15. 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

      1. 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

          1. 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!!

  16. 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

    1. 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 🙁

  17. 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.

  18. 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?

    1. 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

      1. 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?

    1. 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

      1. 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

  19. 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!

    1. 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.

  20. 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.

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