The Colombian peso (COL$) is the official currency. Money is denominated in notes of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, and 50,000, and coins of 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 pesos. At press time, the exchange rate was about COL$2,000 to US$1 and about COL$3,100 to £1. These rates can fluctuate somewhat, so it's important to check the latest exchange rate at www.xe.com/ucc.
Currency Exchange -- Unlike in other Latin-American countries, the U.S. dollar is not widely accepted in Colombia, except in a few super-high-end establishments. You can convert your currency in upscale hotels, at casas de cambio (money-exchange houses), at most banks, and at the airport. It's not recommended to bring traveler's checks to Colombia. They can be exchanged at some banks and used at high-end hotels, but usually they aren't accepted elsewhere. Make sure your bank or issuer has a representative in Colombia before purchasing traveler's checks.
ATMs -- Cash machines are easy to find in urban areas and most medium-to-large-size towns, though they are almost impossible to come across in rural areas. Withdrawing money from ATMs is preferable to exchanging money in banks, which charge a sometimes hefty transaction fee. ATMs also give you the most up-to-date rate of exchange. Thefts at ATMs have been reported, however, so if you are taking out large sums of money, be sure not to put all your cash in one place (spread the bills among your pockets). It's best to use ATM machines located inside a building, as these offer more security. Warning: If you are having trouble with an ATM, do not accept help from anyone, even if he or she seems friendly and honest. This is the easiest way to wipe out your bank account.
Credit Cards -- Credit cards, particularly Visa and MasterCard, are generally accepted in midrange and upscale shops, as well as at upscale restaurants and hotels around the country. In rural areas and small towns, you are unlikely to find establishments that accept credit cards. When booking tours, you're likely to get a better deal when using cash.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.