Money and Currency in Uruguay
The currency used in Uruguay is the Uruguayan peso (peso Uruguayo in Spanish). One United States Dollar is approximately 20 pesos, one British Pound approximately 31 pesos and one euro approximately 27 pesos.
To convert your currency into Uruguayan pesos with real-time rates click here: South America Living – Currency Calculator.
The Uruguayan peso is subdivided into 100 centesimos. Coins in circulation are 1, 2, 5 and 10 pesos. Bills you will use when traveling or living in the country come in 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 2000 denominations. The currency symbol is $U and the currency code is UYU.
Money Exchange & ATMs
There are ATM machines (cajero automático in Spanish) located throughout Uruguay, just don´t expect to find one if going to a small town. Even popular tourist locations such as Cabo Polonio and Punta del Diablo on the Atlantic coast do not have a bank or ATM.
ATMs have a $300 USD limit per day, and charge a small fee per transaction (in addition to the $2-4 USD fee you most likely are being charged by your bank back home).
Credit cards are widely accepted in Uruguay by hotels, sit-down restaurant establishments and most boutique shops. You will have the most luck carrying Visa and MasterCard, others such as Diners may or may not be able to be used for payment.
To avoid multiple fees at an ATM machine when needing to withdraw over $100 USD, you can use your Visa or MasterCard (or bank debit card Visa, MasterCard) at some local banks to withdraw larger sums of cash. If you have it in your account, they will be able to run it through on your card, have you sign and give you the amount in dollars or pesos, whichever you perfer.
Western Union & Money Gram
Western Union and Money Gram are located everywhere, even in the Tres Cruces bus terminal in Montevideo – Travel in Uruguay – Tres Cruces Bus Station.
Unlike in the USA, Canada, UK or Australia – you will need to have the sender of the cash give you (via phone call or email) the number of the transaction after it has been sent. They will not be able to look up the information using only your name. Save yourself much time and hassle by having it at the ready when going to pick-up your wire transfer.
Search for locations (complete with map and addresses) where you can cash your American Express Traveler Cheques directly online at American Express.com. Enter in the city you are in and then click search: Where to cash American Express Traveler Cheques in Uruguay. I came up with 7 locations for Montevideo.
You Need To Carry Small Change
Very few taxis or shop owners will have change for large denomination bills – anything over 200 pesos. If possible, change 500, 1000 and 2000 bills at the bank.