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The currency used in Atacama, as well as throughout Chile, is the Chilean peso. Travelers can find exchange offices in the town of San Pedro de Atacama and also at Calama airport, although the latter does not convert very well.

For those who want to spend a few days in Santiago before heading to the Atacama Desert, the best place to exchange money is Calle Agustinas. The worst place to exchange money is Santiago airport, where the rates are terrible.

If you’re traveling to the Atacama and don’t intend to spend a few days in Santiago, change as little as possible at Calama airport and the rest in the town of San Pedro, which in this case would be the best option.

Another interesting option is Western Union, where you can send your money via the app and withdraw it directly at the Chile Express store on Calle Toconao.


About taking dollars to Atacama

If you choose to take dollars or euros to Atacama, it’s important that the bills are new and undamaged. If the bills are crumpled or torn, they may not be accepted at the bureaux de change – and this is true almost everywhere in Chile.

Do you accept cards in the Atacama Desert?

Credit cards are accepted in high-end hotels, some restaurants, and souvenir stores. It’s important to note that extra fees are often charged for using them or even for a minimum spend, which can make it difficult to use them.

That’s why we always recommend having cash to pay for basic expenses such as food and shopping during your trip.

ATMs in San Pedro de Atacama

The city has three ATMs: two on Calle Caracoles and one near Plaza San Pedro. All three are not always in operation, and it is common, especially on public holidays, for ATMs to run out of cash.

To make a withdrawal, there is a fee, which usually varies from $3,000 Chilean pesos per withdrawal. That’s why we always recommend withdrawing as much as possible in one go, so you can avoid paying this fee on other withdrawals.

Is it better to take dollars or euros?

The exchange rate fluctuates constantly and the difference usually favors taking dollars to Atacama. However, in our experience, it doesn’t pay to exchange dollars or euros if you’re going for a small amount. It’s better to take your own currency, be it dollars or euros, and make a single conversion at your destination into Chilean pesos.

Currency exchange offices in San Pedro de Atacama

To exchange money in San Pedro de Atacama, you don’t have to look far. Most of the exchange offices are concentrated on Calle Toconao, which crosses Calle Caracoles.

From Plaza San Pedro, when you cross Calle Caracoles, you only have to walk a few meters along Toconao to see that the bureaus de change are actually a mixture of souvenir stores, electronics, and currency exchange.

There, you can easily exchange Brazilian reals, dollars, and euros for Chilean pesos and, for those who are extending their trip to Bolivia, Bolivian pesos.

Have you already booked your hotel in Atacama?

It is crucial to have a hotel reservation when you arrive at your destination. This will assist with transportation and immigration in Chile. Inspectors typically inquire about your accommodation details at Santiago airport, so ensure you have your reservation prepared.

San Pedro de Atacama offers a variety of accommodation options, ranging from basic hostels to upscale hotels and resorts. By conducting a thorough search, you can discover comfortable and inviting choices at reasonable prices.

Book your hotel in Atacama

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