The official currency of Venezuela is Bolívar Fuerte (code VEF; symbol BsF), divided into 100 céntimos. Notes are in denominations of BsF100, BsF50, BsF20, BsF10, BsF5 and BsF2. Coin come in denominations of BsF1, and 50, 25, 12.5, 10, 5 and 1 céntimos.
Foreign Currency Exchange
Foreign money can be exchanged at banks and money exchange offices (casas de cambio) at the official exchange rate. Some larger hotels will also exchange foreign currency, but the rates will be less favorable for travelers. Many casas de cambio can be found in most major cities such as Caracas, Puerto La Cruz and Porlamar, but they could be difficult to find in other cities. The largest and best known company is Italcambio, with many branches throughout the country. Recommended currency to bring to Venezuela is US dollar.
Venezuela imposes strict controls on exchanging local and foreign currency. Once cash has been changed to the local currency, it cannot be changed back, so travelers should not exchange more than they plan to spend.
The official exchange rates are much less favorable for visitors with foreign money with the black market offering about twice more BsF than exchange offices or ATMs. Although travelers may be tempted, the black market is illegal and poses a risk of being ripped-off.
Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are available but some of them will only accept cards issued by local banks.
The U.S. Department of State warns about ATMs in Venezuela: '(...) travelers should be careful to use only those in well-lit public places. ATM data has also been hacked and used to make unauthorized withdrawals from user’s accounts. ATMs are also targeted by street gangs in order to rob people making withdrawals.'
Major credit cards, such as Visa, MasterCard, followed by American Express and Diners Club, are widely accepted in main cities and tourist areas. Customers are usually required to show their ID (like passport) when paying by credit card.
Traveler's checks are widely accepted and can be cashed at banks and many money exchange offices. The recommended check in American Express as others may not be accepted. Best rates are given for checks in US dollars and a commission of at least 3% is typically charged. Some places may require check purchase receipt.
Typically banks are open 8:30am to 3:30pm, Monday to Friday.