The unit of currency is the peso ($ or CHP), which exists in banknotes of $1000, $2000, $5,000, $10,000, $20,000 and coins of $1, $5, $10, $50, $100 and $500.
Exchange rate: US$1.00 = Ch$561 [June 12, 2009]
Foreign cash is not generally in use, except for hotels that may waive the value-added tax (IVA) if you are a foreigner, when you pay in US dollars or credit card.
Credit cards are widely used and accepted. There is no surcharge for their use. The most commonly accepted cards are Visa, Master Card and Diners Club. In medium to large businesses American Express is also honored. Exchange rates for credit cards are pretty good. Some small, rural towns mostly have cash economies, so have cash handy when going off the beaten track.
In commercial and banking areas, it is easy to find Automatic Teller Machines (Redbanc network) honoring cards of all local banks as well as Cirrus cards, 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Exchange rates are very good.
The government does not regulate the market of foreign currency in Chile. You can exchange money at any established "Casa de Cambio" at market driven exchange rates. They are common in commercial areas (Downtown and Providencia) as well as in Shopping Malls.
The company in charge of the postal service Correos de Mailing is safe, although slow. For example, posting a letter from Chile to the United States takes around 2 to 3 weeks.
Post offices are open during the week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 p.m. to 12 p.m, and there is a guaranteed delivery system. You can post packages of up to 30 kilos (66 lbs) through the main postal system.
In Chile, several companies offer fax, telex and telegraph services; some of them are ENTEL, TelefChilennnica, VTR and T.Is
There are many phone booths throughout the city, so it is useful to buy phone cards or keep CH$100 peso coins. Calling from the hotel room often has a surcharge depending on the Hotel.
From Chile, international calls are cheap and work efficiently. Multi-carrier services are available at almost every phone. It is not advisable to make international calls from your hotel room as it usually has a surcharge. Try to use the public phone in the lobby or the public phone cabins. Most commercial and shopping centers have international call centers where you can obtain information, make collect calls, or buy calling cards.
To make an international call using a specific carrier:
Cellular phones are widely used and can be easily rented. Some services are ENTEL, Telefónica, SmartCom, and BellSouth. Ask for information at the hotel desk or through the Yellow Pages.
Chile has well developed data communications services. The e-mail and Internet are widely spread. Some hotels offer such services in their business centers. You can also check your e-mail and surf the Net in several Cyber cafes throughout the city.