Find out which currency to take to Uruguay

Find out which currency to take to Uruguay

South America

It's easy to decide which currency to take to Uruguay: reals and that's it. The Brazilian currency is very well accepted, thank you, in most tourist destinations, from Montevideo to the interior of the country. Several establishments even allow you to pay the bill directly with reais. When this does not happen, there is no shortage of exchange offices that carry out the conversion.

Only take dollars if you already have them in your wallet, saved from other trips. Otherwise you will lose money in the double conversion (from reais to dollars and from dollars to Uruguayan pesos). On the other hand, several establishments also accept you to pay your bills in American currency.

Just because it's close to home doesn't mean you can travel without insurance: find out why you should take out travel insurance to go to Uruguay and how to guarantee one with good coverage (and at a discount).

It is also worth remembering that the price of the Uruguayan peso purchased in Brazil will certainly be much worse than that of the currency in Uruguay, due to the low demand. Therefore, it is not worth exchanging reais for pesos when you are still in Brazil. The exception is if you travel by car and the exchange office is in a border town – then the price charged is similar to what you will find in Montevideo.

See too: Shopping in Uruguay – 7 tips for deciding what to bring from your trip
Where to stay in Montevideo – the best neighborhoods and hotels
Montevideo – what to do in 2 to 5 days in the capital of Uruguay
Uruguay by car – complete guide to organize your trip
Uruguay wineries – the wine map near Montevideo

Is it worth using a credit card in Uruguay?

Use it! Is very! Uruguay offers tourists exemption from a tax, VAT, which reaches 18%! This is valid in bars and restaurants and applied to the price stated on the menu. There is also a discount on car rental and hotels (but then the price stated on websites, such as Booking, is already without VAT). In all cases, the discount only applies to those who pay with international cards.

what currency to take to uruguay

Those who pay with Visa see the discount immediately and take the smaller bill home; Those who use Mastercard pay the total, but only receive the tax amount back a few days later – so it may only be on the next invoice. The discount compensates, with a surplus of around 10%, the Brazilian IOF, making payment by card the best method in Uruguay.

It is worth paying attention to establishments that are not exactly restaurants, but that are registered as such and also offer this discount. This is the case with several wineries on the outskirts of Montevideo. In some of them the discount is even applied to the cost of the visit; in others not.

But is travel money – those reloadable debit cards that can be obtained at exchange offices – worth it? Well, before traveling I asked an attendant at a large exchange office in Belo Horizonte about this. She was very honest: no. Both because of the IOF issue and because of the difficulty of getting the card accepted. Many exchange offices do not recommend that you take travel money for trips to Uruguay and Argentina.

what currency to take to Uruguay

How much money to take to Uruguay?

On my last trip, in 2019, I spent five days in Uruguay. As I was going to use the card a lot, I withdrew 800 reais and carried it in my wallet. On the first day I exchanged 200 reais for Uruguayan pesos at a money exchange office. And I only used half of that. Because all meals are paid for by card, due to the VAT exemption, we hardly spend Uruguayan pesos. I only spent it on trips, shopping at the market and getting around – and this last expense was little, because Uber, which works well there, is also charged to the credit card.

So don't worry about exchanging large amounts of currency at once. The best option is to exchange little by little, but always being careful to have some amount of Uruguayan pesos with you.

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