ATMs in Chile – Can I Use My Australian Debit & Credit Cards in Chile?

With its lively culture, stunning landscapes, and delicious cuisine, Chile is a land where adventure awaits you at every turn, and as you immerse yourself in this South American gem, ensuring you have access to your funds is essential for experiencing all of the wonders Chile has to offer. But what happens when you run out of cash?

At Crown Currency Exchange, you can consider us your guides to a stress-free holiday, and here, you’ll find all of the information you need about using ATMs in Chile. We’ll guide you through potential fees and charges and look at some of the best ways you can save as much money as possible when making cash withdrawals in Chile.

Can I Withdraw Money from ATMs in Chile?

Let’s get straight to the point. In most cases, you will be able to use an Australian debit or credit card to withdraw money from an ATM in Chile, especially if it is part of an internationally known network like Visa or Mastercard. However, you are very likely to be charged when you withdraw cash from a Chilean ATM, and these rates vary depending on the type of ATM you use.

For example, bank-owned ATMs such as Banco de Chile, Banco Santander, and BancoEstado will charge lower fees than independently owned ATMs. However, they aren’t as commonplace and can usually only be found within bank branches and shopping centres, which takes away a certain level of convenience.

Independently owned ATMS are, as their name suggests, operated by independent companies and can be found in tourist areas, convenience stores, airports, and other public places. This makes them much more convenient compared to bank-owned ATMs, but this convenience comes at a price, and you’ll find that an independently owned ATM will charge much higher fees for withdrawing cash using a foreign card. 

It’s also important to note that most ATMs in Chile also have a withdrawal limit of $200,000 Chilean Pesos ($320 AUD), which means that it can be very easy to rack up multiple fees throughout your trip if you’re relying on ATMs. This is one of the reasons why we highly recommend exchanging money before your trip and taking cash with you.

Differences Between Chilean and Australian ATMs

So, now you know that there’s a difference in charges and fees between ATMs in Chile. But are there any differences between Chilean and Australian ATMs that you need to be aware of before making a cash withdrawal? There are a few.

The first is language. Chilean ATMs primarily display instructions and options in Spanish, but many offer the opportunity to navigate in English. This will be on the home screen and be displayed as “Ingles”, or there may also be a flag used to symbolise your language choice. Keep in mind, however, that not all ATMs will have this feature, so you may have to visit a few before finding one you can confidently use.

You may also face some network compatibility issues when using a Chilean ATM, and some will only accept certain cards. If you have a Visa or Mastercard, you have a better chance of being able to use most ATMs, but if you have a card that isn’t issued by these payment networks, there’s a risk that you won’t be able to use that ATM to withdraw cash. The best way of checking this is to look at the compatibility signage you’ll find on the ATM itself.

What Are the ATM Fees and Charges in Chile?

As we’ve explained above, both bank-owned ATMs and independently-owned ATMs in Chile will charge you a fee, and there is a difference in the charges between them. But exactly how much can you expect to be charged?

A bank-owned ATM will charge up to $4,000 CLP ($6.40 AUD) per transaction, while an independently-owned will charge as much as $7,000 CLP ($11 AUD) per transaction. Also, since you’re only able to withdraw a maximum amount of $200,000 CLP ($320 AUD) at a time, you’ll incur multiple fees if you need more than this.

Top Tip: To avoid these fees, it’s best to exchange your Australian Dollar for Chilean Pesos ahead of your trip to Chile. This also offers you peace of mind that you’ll be able to pay for whatever goods and services you use with no risk of embarrassment if a certain vendor doesn’t accept card payments. You can find the best rates on AUD to CLP here.

Safety and Security Tips for Using ATMs in Chile

Should you find yourself with no option but to use an ATM in Chile, there are some basic rules you need to follow to ensure your safety and security. These aren’t dissimilar to the things you’d practice when using an ATM at home, but they are still incredibly important nonetheless.

Notify Your Bank

One of the most important things you can do if you need to use an ATM in Chile is make a quick call to your bank and let them know that you’ll be doing so. This will prevent your card from being flagged for suspicious activity and being blocked, leaving you with no access to your money. 

Trust Your Instinct

Once you’ve told your bank that you’ll be using your card abroad, you need to find an ATM to make a cash withdrawal. Use your best instinct when doing this, making sure you only use ATMs located in a well-lit, populated area, as this will significantly reduce the risk of theft. Likewise, if you can use an ATM attached to a bank or in a secure location, that would be even better.

Check for Devices

Once you’re satisfied that the ATM you’ve chosen feels secure and safe, take some time to inspect it for any skimming devices that might be attached. These will be on the card reader and are designed to steal your card information while you use the ATM. They aren’t always very easy to spot, though, so if the card slot looks tampered with in any way or seems strangely loose, choose a different ATM.

Protect Your PIN

As soon as you insert your card (assuming you’re confident there isn’t a skimming device on the ATM), shield the keypad with your hand when prompted to enter your PIN. Likewise, if it’s a touchscreen ATM, shield the screen with your body to prevent anybody from being able to read it or record you entering it with their phone.

Limit Cash Withdrawals ****

It’s also a good idea to only withdraw the amount of money you need and avoid carrying large sums with you. While this means that you’ll be charged more for making multiple withdrawals, you’ll be keeping your wider finances safe and significantly removing yourself as a target for theft. 

Monitor Account Activity

Following your cash withdrawal, keep a close eye on your account for any unauthorised activity. Even if you’ve been as careful as possible, skimming devices and fraud activity are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and you can never guarantee you haven’t become a victim. If you notice anything out of place on your account, contact your bank or credit card issuer immediately. 

What Should You Do if Your Card is Lost or Stolen in Chile?

While nobody likes to think about this happening, it’s also important to know what to do if your card becomes lost or stolen in Chile. The first thing you need to do if this happens is contact your bank or card issuer, who will be able to freeze and cancel your cards to stop anyone from using them without your authorisation. Most banks have a dedicated 24/7 service for this, so don’t worry about time differences – contact them straight away.

Your bank or credit card company will then go about arranging a new card for you and looking into any transactions you don’t recognise. They may ask for your cooperation with certain elements of this, such as reporting the theft to the police and obtaining a reference number once you have.

Should You Take Cash to Chile?

Knowing what you now know about ATMs and their associated fees, you might be wondering if it’s better to take cash to Chile instead. There are certain things to consider here, but in most cases, you will find that taking cash with you saves you money and offers you more convenience. 

This is because you won’t only be avoiding ATM fees, but you’ll also avoid having to pay expensive International Transaction Fees charged by your bank or credit card issuer when using your card to pay for something. Even if you’ve informed your bank you’ll be using your card abroad, you’re still likely to be charged these fees. 

In terms of convenience, taking cash with you means that you’ll be able to purchase whatever you fancy in rural areas, where card payments are not likely to be accepted. Similarly, you don’t run the risk of not being able to pay for something if a store or restaurant finds that their payment system is down. 

Carrying cash also provides you with a safety net in case of emergencies, whether that’s needing to get a taxi to the airport ahead of your scheduled departure or medical expenses. Put simply, having cash readily available makes it possible to navigate unforeseen circumstances much more effectively. 

Planning Tips For Your Trip to Chile

Along with knowing how to be financially safe and secure while you’re in Chile, it’s important to do some planning ahead of your trip to make every moment as enjoyable as possible. Here are some of our top tips for planning the perfect Chilean getaway.

Obtain Necessary Documents

When visiting Chile from Australia, you will need to apply for a tourist visa. This is also true if you’re only moving through Chile between 8 and 72 hours. Luckily, applying for a visa isn’t overly complicated, and once approved, you can start looking forward to your holiday. As part of your visa requirements, you’ll also need to have at least six months left on your passport, so make sure you check before applying!

Research Destinations

Chile offers a wide range of attractions, from the busy capital city of Santiago to the stunning landscapes of Patagonia and the Atacama Desert, which means there’s something for every explorer to enjoy. However, it is worth researching what you want to do and what you want to see before you visit, as this will make it easier to plan an itinerary. 

Create a Budget

When creating your itinerary, it’s also a very good idea to create a budget for your trip. This should include multiple aspects, including accommodation, travel expenses, food, shopping, and activities. Allocate a set amount of money to each budget, and leave an extra 20% unallocated for emergencies (or if you fancy splurging a little more on something fun!)

Learn Some Spanish

While you can get by with English in major tourist areas, learning some basic Spanish phrases ahead of your trip to Chile can enhance your overall travel experience and make it much easier to communicate with locals. You don’t necessarily need to take a language course to do this, either, and there are some great apps that will teach you basic Spanish in a short amount of time.

Purchase Travel Insurance

Not particularly glamorous or exciting, but essential, a good travel insurance policy will cover you for unforeseen circumstances like emergency medical care, lost luggage, cancelled accommodation, and personal liability. It is also a good idea to have the details of the Australian Embassy in Chile saved, as they’ll be able to help you with things travel insurance can’t cover, like lost passports or criminal charges. 

Get the Best Exchange Rates on Chilean Pesos at Crown Currency

Whether you need cash for a spontaneous adventure or for indulging in some delicious Chilean cuisine, you’ll find ATMs in Chile that you can use your Australian payment cards. However, no matter what type of ATM you use, you will be charged a fee for withdrawing money, which is why it’s best to exchange cash before your trip and take it with you.

At Crown Currency Exchange, you’ll find the best rates on AUD to CLP with no commission fees or hidden costs, giving you the best possible value. Pop in and speak to our friendly team of experts at one of our many locations today, and start looking forward to enjoying everything Chile has to offer!

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