Medellin Free City Guide

Currency

The official currency of Colombia is the Colombian Peso which may be abbreviated to “COP”. The Colombian bills are denoted as: 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 Pesos. Coins are denoted as follows: 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000 Pesos. There is talk of a new 100,000 bill being introduced.

It’s important to carry small change with you as much as possible. Many small businesses will refuse to take your 50,000 COP note simply because they don’t have the cash to change it. Try to break your 50,000 COP notes at bigger establishments such as Exito. Try not to accept torn or badly worn notes, you might find it hard to get rid of them as well.

Toucan Tip: Identifying Counterfeit Notes

Colombia like many South American cities has a counterfeit note problem. It won’t cripple your trip but as long as you’re mindful of the quality of the cash you receive, you should be fine. When paying for anything with a 50,000 COP note, shop and restaurant employees will always check that the note is legitimate. Don’t take it personally – it’s a standard procedure and something you should look into doing as well.

How to check if a note is counterfeit: There are quite a few security measures taken to deter counterfeiting – check that the note has a watermark, look for the metallic strip, and scratch the hair of the historic person on the note, it should feel a little bit rougher than normal paper. Lastly, fold the note in half and rub it together, it should feel waxy with raised print scratching together and not like regular printing paper.

One of the most common occurrence of counterfeit notes is with unscrupulous taxi drivers. The majority of taxi drivers refuse to accept more than a 20,000 COP note. If you do get a driver who’s all-to-happy to give you change for a large note, be careful of a “bait and switch.” In other words, when you give them a perfectly good 20,000 or 50,000 COP note, watch a switch to a fake note and then giving it back to you under the pretense that they can no longer change the note for you. A common way to avoid this is making it obvious to you’re checking the note yourself before you give it to the driver and make a note of the number.

Currency
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