Chile Currency Exchange Guide

Chile, a country known for its breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and delicious cuisine, is a true gem of South America. From the towering Andes mountains in the east to the vast Pacific Ocean in the west, Chile offers a unique blend of nature, history, and adventure. With its vibrant cities, charming towns, and welcoming people, Chile is a destination that leaves a lasting impression on anyone who visits. Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or simply a relaxing getaway, you’ll find it in Chile.

General Chilean Currency Information

What is the currency of Chile?

The official currency in Chile is the Chilean peso (CLP).

What do Chilean notes & coins look like?

Chile Money

Chilean peso banknotes are available in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, and 20,000. The first three denominations are made of polymer, while the higher denominations are made of cotton paper. These Chilean banknotes were released in 2009 under the name “Bicentennial series” to commemorate Chile’s independence process. The front side features famous Chilean figures like Arturo Prat, Manuel Rodríguez Erdoíza, Gabriela Mistral, Ignacio Carrera Pinto, and Andrés Bello. On the back, all the banknotes feature natural protected areas of the country like Nalcas National Reserve, Torres del Paine National Park, Alberto de Agostini National Park, La Campana National Park, and Salar de Surire Natural Monument are portrayed.

Chile Coin

As for Chilean peso coins, they range in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500 Pesos. Although the Central Bank of Chile has ceased to produce 1 and 5 Pesos coins, they are still legal tender, and other available denominations include two sets with various designs. Following the rounding-off policy for transactions, 1 and 5 Pesos coins can still be used for cash payments. The coins depict the National coat of arms, the country’s liberator Bernardo O’Higgins, a Mapuche Indian, and Cardinal Raúl Silva Henríquez.

Economy

Chile boasts a robust economy in South America, ranking high in competitiveness, income per capita, globalization, and economic freedom. The country’s triumph is attributed to its diverse and productive sectors, including agriculture, mining, and fishing. Its top-notch exports comprise high-value fruits like cherry, cranberry, grape, apple, kiwi, peach, plum, and hazelnut, making it one of the world’s leading producers of these goods. Chile is also a leading global producer of salmon, accounting for 38.2% of global sales.

Chile’s mining sector is of considerable significance to its economy, with the government putting in place regulations to entice foreign investors and create a favourable investment climate. The country tops in copper production globally, providing nearly 30% of the world’s output, and produces other minerals such as lithium, molybdenum, iodine, and rhenium. Chile’s economy continues to thrive and is an exemplary model for success in Latin America.

Brief currency history

The history of Chile’s currency began with the country’s War of Independence in 1810. Chile won its independence from Spain in 1826, establishing its own monetary unit, the first Chilean peso, in 1817. Initially, the peso was only produced in coins, but the paper currency was issued soon after its launch because of the scarcity of gold and silver. Despite this, Chilean paper money was used sparingly in the first half of the 19th century. Private banking and the general banking law passed by Chile in 1860 led to an increase in the issuance of private banknotes.

By allowing private banks to issue currency without strict regulations, Chile hoped to promote economic growth, but it led to poor management and a run on banks in 1878. This forced Chile to pass an inconvertibility act and make private banknotes inconvertible to gold or silver. The state became the primary supplier of paper currency and, due to inflation and wars, maintained the stance that banknotes were not convertible until 1895. In an effort to reduce inflation, private banknotes were allowed to be converted to precious metals between 1895 and 1898. However, banks were unable to achieve this, and Chile prevented them from issuing any more notes.

After that, Chile became the sole issuer of banknotes for the country. The Central Bank of Chile was established in 1925, which brought stability to the country’s economy, but inflation continued. To control inflation, the Chilean Peso became the legal currency as it replaced the Escudo in 1960 at an exchange rate of 1 Escudo for 1,000 Pesos. The Escudo was short-lived, and in 1975, a new Chilean Peso was issued at a conversion of 1 Peso for 1,000 Escudos. Since then, the Central Bank’s autonomy from the country has been credited with the relative stability of Chile’s currency.

Taking Travel Money to Chile

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What currency should I take to Chile?

If you’re travelling to Chile, you’ll need to exchange your Australian dollars (AUD) for Chilean pesos (CLP).

Is it better to convert currency in Australia or Chile?

We recommend you buy Chilean peso in Australia before travelling to Chile. This helps to ensure a hassle-free trip and eliminates the uncertainty surrounding the availability of travel money abroad. It also allows you to access the funds immediately.

How much money can I take to Chile?

If you are carrying foreign currencies while travelling, it is permissible to carry up to USD 10,000 without declaring it to the Central Bank. However, amounts exceeding USD 10,000 must be declared. Similarly, you can carry up to USD 10,000 in Chilean Pesos without making any declarations, but for amounts exceeding this limit, a declaration is necessary.

Where to convert currency?

Crown Currency Exchange is a reputable currency exchange provider in Australia. With almost two decades of experience in the business and 50 stores in different states, our services are easily accessible. We offer competitive foreign exchange rates, ensuring that you get the most value for your money. Most importantly, we do not apply hidden fees or commissions when exchanging currency, making us the perfect choice for anyone seeking foreign exchange solutions in Australia.

Is tipping customary in Chile? How much is expected?

Taxi Drivers: Even though it’s not a must, it’s good practice to allow taxi drivers to keep the change as a form of appreciation for their service.

Transfer Drivers: While tipping isn’t compulsory, if you feel like your transfer driver delivered great service, it’s okay to tip them around CLP 1,000-2,000.

Restaurants and Bars: It’s mandatory for restaurants to include a suggested tip of at least 10% in your bill, but you can choose to ignore it, pay less or more, depending on how satisfied you are with the service provided. Waiting staff often rely on tips to earn a good wage, and they are typically underpaid.

Hotel Staff: A friendly porter who assists you with carrying your bags to your room will accept a gratuity of around CLP 500-1,000. Hotel breakfast waiting staff and cleaning staff don’t expect tips, but they will definitely appreciate around CLP 500-1,000 per person per day.

Supermarkets: If a clerk packs your grocery for you, it’s courteous to tip them around CLP 200.

Guides: A fantastic guide on a shared tour should receive a generous tip of approximately CLP 2,000 per person for a half day, and around CLP 3,000 per person for a full day. For private tours, a gratuity of around CLP 10,000 to 15,000 would show your appreciation for a full day. It’s also customary to tip the driver, about half of what you give the guide.

On Treks: If your guide meets your expectations, it’s suitable to pay them around CLP 10,000 to 15,000 a day. For a good cook and/or assistant guide, half the tip given to the guide is affordable, around CLP 5,000 to 8,000 every day.

What is ATM access like in Chile?

Accessing ATMs in Chile is a relatively straightforward matter, as they are prevalent across the country. With ATMs located in banks, shopping centres, and even gas stations, finding one should not be too much of a challenge, even in more remote areas. Two main networks – Redf and Redbanc – power the majority of the country’s ATMs. Overall, ATM access in Chile is highly convenient and relatively hassle-free, making it a reliable option for travellers looking to withdraw cash while on the go.

What should you budget per day?

Budget

On a backpacker’s budget, allocating around 36,000 CLP per day will allow you to have a comfortable stay in a hostel dorm, prepare your own meals, use public transportation to explore the city, and even visit a few museums. However, if you’re planning on indulging in drinking, it’s recommended that you set aside around 5,000-8,000 CLP per day for this activity alone. 

Moderate

To fully enjoy all that this beautiful country has to offer, it’s recommended to budget around 105,000 CLP per day for a mid-range experience. This budget will allow you to enjoy comfortable accommodations through Airbnb, take buses to explore different destinations, sample delicious local street food and meals at affordable restaurants, splurge on an occasional taxi, and indulge in some excursions such as guided hikes and wine tours. 

Luxury

If you’re looking for a luxury experience, you can expect to spend around 205,000 CLP per day. With this budget, you’ll be able to stay in comfortable hotels, rent a car to explore your surroundings, take guided tours, indulge in drinks, and dine at some of the best restaurants in the area. Of course, this is just the starting point for a luxury trip in Chile – the more you’re willing to spend, the more lavish your experience can become.

Currency details

Currency:

Chilean peso

Currency code:

CLP

Currency symbol:

$

Central bank:

Banco Central de Chile

Nickname:

None

Currency sub-unit:

1/100 of a Peso

Bank notes:

1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 pesos

Coins:

1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 pesos

Must-do's while you are in Chile

Valparaiso

Visit Valparaiso

Buckle up for a breathtaking ride to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Valparaiso, just 1.5 hours away from the bustling city of Santiago. Let the colourful houses perched on the hillsides enchant you, and take a funicular or hike to witness the stunning street art that adorns the walls. Admire the art galleries and pottery shops that reflect the city’s bohemian beauty, and savour the delectable seafood at the local fish markets. Valparaiso is an art haven and a must-visit for all the art lovers out there.

Atacama Desert

Explore the Atacama Desert 

Brace yourselves for an experience of a lifetime and a journey to the magnificent Atacama Desert, situated in the northern part of Chile. This awe-inspiring landscape, one of the driest places in the world, is a paradise for explorers. Let the guided tours lead you through the hauntingly beautiful terrain of shimmering geysers, refreshing hot springs, and mysterious lagoons. Witness the clearest skies in the world at night, and let the enchanting starry skies take your breath away.

Go wine-tasting ​

Go wine-tasting 

Chilean wines are known to be some of the best in the world, so make sure you take a tour of one of their many vineyards. Head to the Casablanca Valley or Colchagua Valley, just a few hours from Santiago, to explore their award-winning wineries. You can expect stunning scenery, delicious food, and of course, a variety of wines to taste.

Witness the breathtaking country's glaciers​

Witness the breathtaking country's glaciers

If you visit Chile, you must witness the glaciers that dominate the south, especially in Argentine Patagonia. Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina is one of the most popular places to encounter these natural wonders. Take a guided tour to see the majestic glaciers and admire their reflection in the pristine blue lakes.

Torres Del Paine National Park

Enjoy the national parks 

Get lost in the surreal beauty of Chile’s National Parks, a treasure trove of natural splendour waiting to be explored. The world-renowned Torres Del Paine National Park, with its towering peaks and azure lakes, is a sight to behold. The Conguillio National Park, with its ancient Araucarias, takes you back to a timeless era. Wander through the lush green forests, glistening blue lakes, and majestic mountains, and let nature soothe your soul.

Other helpful guides & resources on travel in Chile

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