Uruguay currency: Can I use dollars or Argentine pesos in Uruguay?

The answer is: sometimes. You'll want to have Uruguayan pesos but in places like Colonia they'll accept dollars, Brazilian reals and Argentine pesos.
By Karen A Higgs
Changing dollars into pesos
Last updated on April 27, 2018

I get asked this question a lot and my answer is: sometimes. Out and about in the street, use Uruguayan pesos (Uruguay currency). If you try to offer a smaller business or a taxi driver another currency they won’t know what the exchange rate is and, not wanting to rip you off, may not be comfortable accepting them.

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

During the summer time, even small beach town businesses are usually fine to accept dollars and other currencies . Check the rate before but outside of the larger resorts they are very honest and offer you the regular rate.

All over Uruguay larger supermarkets will usually accept payment in dollars, as long as you are fine with receiving your change in pesos. Their rates are normally the market ones.

Highway tolls must be paid in cash but can be paid in dollars, Argentine and Brazilian currencies as well as Uruguay pesos of course.

Argentina and Uruguay – they both use pesos, right?

They do, but they have very different values. Don’t fall into the common mistake, thinking that what applies for Argentina is the same for Uruguay. It doesn’t.

It’s really easy to exchange money in Uruguay. When you read more about the money exchange situation in Uruguay you’ll see it is very simple and straightforward. Just another confirmation that Argentina’s (often crazy monetary) situation and Uruguay’s are completely unrelated. Ha!

And the rates are generally good. In fact Uruguay is a great place to exchange Brazilian reals and Argentine pesos into dollars if you have any left over and don’t need more pesos. Or to exchange dollars into Argentina pesos so you have cash on hand for when you arrive in Buenos Aires.

So why do the ATMs dispense dollars?

It may seem strange but cash machines in Uruguay dispense both Uruguay currency in 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. And you’ll be able to pay hotel bills in dollars.

Guru Money Tip

When not to use cash. When you use your international credit or debit card in restaurants and for care hire in Uruguay, you get the 22% VAT back directly when you pay with your credit card.

It’s a crazy benefit that the Uruguayan government has decided to give to travellers.

For other money-saving tips like this, check out the Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo

Photo: 401(K) 2012




20 Responses

  1. Boa noite, parabéns pela postagen, muito útil para nós viajantes. Tenho uma dúvida, se você acha que compensaria eu trocar real por pesos argentinos utilizando o câmbio blue e ao estar no Uruguai fazer a conversão de pesos argentinos para pesos uruguaios, se eu teria algum ganho nessa conversão do que realizando a conversão direta de real para pesos uruguaios?

    1. Hey Edison, if I were you I would avoid trying to change Argentine pesos here. The exchange rate is very very low. Cheers, Karen

  2. Hi, I enjoyed reading your replies and posts. Here are some questions:

    _if I go to the bank you mentioned and give them 1000 AR PESO how much I get in Uruguay Peso.

    – what is the best way to exchange some AR money left with best rate.

    Please send your reply by email too.

    1. Hi Hany, unfortunately there is a very poor rate for Argentine pesos. At today’s rate you would get about 80 Uruguay pesos.

  3. Karen, I am in San Telmo and on Saturday 25th Jan, I am going to Montevideo via Colonia on Buquebus. I need some Uruguayan cash to pay taxi drivers on arrival. The official Exchange in Plaza Dorego would not give me any Uruguayan money. Is there an exchange on the BsAs side of the Buquebus terminal? or on the boat?
    Is there a PDF version of you Montevideo book?

    1. Hi Neil, there are both exchanges on the boat (notoriously bad rates) and at the port. You can expect to get abt 36.5 UY pesos to the dollar right now. The good news, you can exchange any left over ARG pesos into UY at the same rate you’d get in Argentina.

      THere IS a pdf version of The Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo. THanks for asking!

  4. Hey Karen,
    Really great page!
    I have a question. We have Argentinian Pesos left and are a little bit surprised with the change rate for them in Montevideo (buying: 0.35, Selling: 0.85).
    Do you know where we can get better rates for them?
    Thanks already ?

    1. Hi Pascal, thank you! It’s actually pretty much the rate you will get in Argentina I suspect. I know that when I buy AR pesos here in Uruguay, before I go to Buenos Aires, I get as good a rate as I get when I reach da Big City. Yes, the AR pesos is *really* depreciated 🙁 So… the best advice I can give you is to change them all at once and ask for their best rate – you say “Me puedes dar tu mejor cambio por favor?” You will normally be given a rate that is slighty better than what’s on the board. This works for all currencies btw. Don’t spend your pesos all at once 😉 and enjoy your stay! — Karen

      1. Hey Karen, thanks for your reply!
        We did another thing. Turned out people in our hotel and on a free walking tour will heading to Argentina, so they were happy to change with us.

    1. Hi Elaine, there are exchanges in every town in Uruguay. You just need to go to any Abitab or Red Pagos store. Ask at your hotel. We have eight pages of information about Carmelo in The Guru’Guay Guide to Uruguay. You can buy it on Amazon or for your tablet from our website. It’s an amazing region! All the best, Karen

    1. Heh, heh, thanks, Bea. Yes, VERY COOL name. I owe my old friend from uni a big one. I assume you are going to Colonia if it’s a day trip? In which case you can totally use Argentine pesos in most restaurants. However you will want to use your credit card when you can because you will get the 22% tax BACK!! best best, Karen PS If you want a tip, do have lunch at Las Liebres, the very best restaurant in Colonia. It’s a little way out of town but taxis are cheap and it’s sooo worth it.

  5. Thank you for this useful article! We’re visiting Uruguay soon and were hoping to stock up on US dollars before returning to Argentina (where access to cash is proving problematic) – do the cash machines in Uruguay still dispense US$?

      1. Thank you! We’ve just tried to withdraw $300 and are being charged a $6 fee. Looking elsewhere on your site it seems as though this may be a higher fee than usual, but maybe things have changed? We’re going to try the advice we saw elsewhere on the site and visit RedBrou in MV to ask about a cash advance from a UK bank…

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