Money & costs
The unit of Venezuelan currency is the bolívar, abbreviated to B. There are 50-, 100- and 500-bolívar coins, and paper notes of 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 bolívares. Watch carefully the notes you pay and receive because some notes of various denominations have similar colors and are easily confused.
By far the most popular foreign currency is the US dollar, so stick strictly to the greenback.
The usual official place to change your cash is at a casa de cambio (an authorized money-exchange office). They exist in most major cities and buy foreign currency (but don’t sell it) at the official exchange rate. There are a number of them in Caracas, Puerto La Cruz and Porlamar, but there may be just one or two in other large cities. Italcambio is the biggest and best-known company, with branches all over the country.
By far the most popular foreign currency is the US dollar. Other internationally known currencies, such as the euro or pound sterling, can be exchanged in a casa de cambio, but not all will accept them and the rates are usually poor.
US dollars are normally accepted by tour operators as payment for tours, and hotels may also accept dollars.
Visa and MasterCard are the most useful credit cards in Venezuela. Both are accepted as a means of payment for goods and services (though many tour operators may refuse payment by credit card or charge 10% more for the service). They are also useful for taking cash advances from banks or ATMs. Make sure you know the number to call if you lose your credit card, and be quick to cancel it if it’s lost or stolen. Also remember that just because an establishment claims that it takes credit cards, doesn’t mean that their machine functions correctly.
American Express is the most recognized traveler’s check brand. Corp Banca or a casa de cambio (try Italcambio) will cash your check, but it can be difficult to find one of these locations. Same casas de cambio will charge a commission of about 3% or more. Some tour operators will accept traveler’s checks as payment, but cash is generally preferred.