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What are the best currency exchange tips in Venezuela ?

The national currency in Venezuela is the Bolívar fuerte (BsF, since January 2008), called bolo and divided into 100 centimos. The is code of the bolivar is VEF

The bolívar was devalued by more than 30% in February 2013.

However you should know that Venezuela is encountering a serious monetary crisis. People from Venezuela are just getting poorer and poorer day after day. They struggle to buy basic necessities such as food. You might encounter empty supermarkets as food prices are set by the government but it is not profitable for the shopkeeper to sell at these prices. On the bright side, it means that with US dollars you will have the purchasing power of a king and luxury hotels and restaurants are affordable for a few dollars. Of course you have to be extra careful, in deseperate times it is tempting to relieve this wealthy tourist from his money.

Besides on December 12th 2016 president Maduro has decided to pull out from circulation the largest denomination bill, 100 bolivars. If you exchange money be extra careful NOT to get these banknotes. They are worth nothing.

It is possible to exchange currency and traveler's checks in currency exchange (casas de cambio), as well as in banks.

Payments by credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express) are only accepted in major restaurants, major hotels and to pay for the flight. Many ATM accept Visa and Eurocard MasterCard, but most operate with the withdrawal cards from the international Cirrus network.

A strict exchange control was introduced in Venezuela in 2003. Only official exchange offices, banks and hotels have the right to carry out transactions in foreign currency, always at the rate fixed by  the government. Currency exchange offers a cheaper rate than hotels.

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Foreigners who agree to buy or sell bolivars to private individuals are subject to criminal penalties and / or scams. But the illegal black exchange is still very widespread because it is very interesting: in most cases, you get twice as much bolivar from a dollar than by going to an official currency exchange place.

Banks are open from Monday to Friday, from 8:30 to 11:30 and from 14:00 to 16:30. Some are open during Christmas and on Saturday mornings.

Tags : currency exchange
Photo credits : Márcio Cabral de Moura