Uruguay is among the most tourist-friendly countries in South America and has a very easy and favorable money exchange policy.
Cash is king in Uruguay. You will need cash to pay for almost everything. The best place to exchange cash is at exchange bureaus ( casa De Cambios) or banks. The rate is almost the same everywhere except in posh neighborhoods such as Carrasco and Pocitos in Montevideo and at airport exchange bureaus. You'll find the best rates in exchange bureaus in Montevideo's city center.
Currency exchange in Uruguay is also cheap since no commission is charged.
The US dollar will give you the best rate, Euros come in second, and eventually Brazilian Reals and Argentina peso.
The money situation is way better in Uruguay compared to her neighbor Argentina. You'll end up getting more money when you exchange money in Uruguay compared to Argentina. It's now becoming increasingly common for tourists heading to Argentina from Uruguay to exchange dollars for Argentina pesos in Uruguay.
Both Uruguay and Argentina use pesos but their currencies have different values.
In Uruguay, the standard currency used is Uruguayan pesos. However, ATMs dispense both US dollars and Uruguayan pesos. Most Uruguayans save their money in US dollars. Property prices in Uruguay are also frequently quoted in US dollars.
Please note that the symbol for Uruguayan pesos is $ while that of the US dollar in Uruguay is the US $.
Dollars can also be used to make payments in supermarkets, high-end stores, and hotels. Expect to be given change in Uruguayan pesos.
Most supermarkets accept dollars at the normal market rate. With hotels it varies, you have to be careful not to be ripped off.
Taxi drivers and market traders only accept in Uruguayan pesos. While some taxi drivers can accept payment in US dollars it's often a rip-off.
The city of Colonia del Sacramento is the exception. Here Uruguayan pesos, Argentinian pesos, and US dollars are all accepted in most stores. Even seaside stalls accept payment in all three currencies during peak season. Most stores in Colonia also give you change in the currency you used to pay. It's only at museums that you'll have to pay in Uruguayan pesos when in Colonia.
ATMs In Uruguay
Uruguay has two ATM networks Banred and RedBrou. Most private banks are members of Banred while RedBrou is a state-owned network by BROU.
The ATM withdrawal limit is $300 and $200 at Banred and RedBrou networks respectively. Withdrawal fees are between $6-10.
If you need lots of cash it's cheaper to make an international wire to Uruguay than making multiple ATM withdrawals.
Visa International and Mastercard international will always give you the best rate at Banred ATMs compare to Visa Uruguay and Mastercard Uruguay. Always use this network as opposed to the local rates in Uruguay.