Money and Currency in Bolivia
The currency used in Bolivia is the boliviano. One United States Dollar is approximately 6.8 bolivianos, one British Pound approximately 11.3 bolivianos and one euro approximately 9.9 bolivianos. To convert your currency into bolivianos with real-time rates click here: South America Living – Currency Calculator.
Boliviano bills come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200. Boliviano coins consist of 1, 2 and 5 bolivianos and 10, 20, and 50 centavos (cents in English). The currency symbol is $b and the currency code is BOB.
Money Exchange & ATMs
Money exchange houses (‘cambios’ in Spanish) are in most locations, often in abundance. Exchanging dollars, pounds or euros into bolivianios should never be a problem. In smaller towns you may have to go into one of these and change your 100 boliviano notes given by the ATM into smaller bills (20 or 10 denomination bank notes) as local shop owners rarely have change (‘suelto’ in Spanish).
ATMs are in all cities and most large towns but not all. As an example, even the popular tourist destination Tupiza does not have an International LINK ATM. Travelers have to go into a bank and withdraw using their debit or credit card.
There is a limit of 300 USD per ATM transaction. This is for your safety, to prevent theives from being able to extort large amounts of cash easily.
Only upscale establishments (restaurants, hotels) will accept credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, Diners, etc. Cash is most often used when making a purchase and if you ask if a shop or store accepts credit cards they will most likely direct you to an ATM where you can go get some
Wire Transfers, Western Union & MoneyGram
You can open up a bank account – U.S. dollar or regular Boliviano account – very easily in Bolivia (valid I.D. plus proof of local address), then have your local bank transfer funds. The standard ITF (International Transfer Fee) is applied to all incoming International transfers.
When accepting an incoming Western Union transfer you need to get the number of the transaction from the sender. They cannot look-up a transaction based on your name alone, as is common in the U.S. and Canada.
Not a great way to get your cash, and charges for the transaction vary and can be high. Businesses – even exclusive hotels – will most likely not accept Travelers Checks for payment. ATM cards are the best way to get cash when living and traveling in Bolivia.
If you use American Express Travelers Checks you can find locations online where you can cash them. For locations in La Paz, click here. On the page you can change the search parameters to whatever town or city you need to find locations in.