Which bank ATMs give free cash withdrawals in South America & Central America?

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We usually spend the first hour or so of being in a new country hunting around for ATMs that a) work and b) give us the cheapest/free ATM transactions. We’ve made it easier for you by compiling a list of the banks we’ve found that gave us free cash withdrawals in South America and Central America.

By free cash withdrawals, we mean they don’t charge their own fee on top of whatever your home bank charges you for foreign exchange and using your card abroad. Depending on which home bank you use, that fee could even be 0.

Make a note of these banks that give free ATM cash withdrawals in South America and Central America in every new country you go to, and avoid using foreign exchange kiosks altogether as they usually skim all sorts of commissions and/or charges with a poor exchange rate.

After this post on banks that give free ATM cash withdrawals in South America and Central America, you’ll also find these posts useful:

Revolut cards keep our costs abroad down significantly

There’s nothing worse than saving up all your money, then checking a bank statement and realising that a large chunk of it has gone to the foreign bank you withdrew cash from for ‘transaction fees’ on top of FX commission and a transaction fee from your home bank.

Thankfully, with each of our Revolut accounts, we do not pay any transaction fees on the first £5000 card payments and £200 withdrawals on the UK side (and our foreign exchange rates are all commission-free at exactly what the official FX rate is that day), but we can still get charged bank fees on the foreign side if we get unlucky with the ATMs available here in South and Central America.

Revolut began in the UK, but is now rapidly growing in other countries across the world, including the USA, Australia and most of Europe. If you’re a citizen of a supported country, you can get a free Revolut card here, without the usual courier fee:

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Cash or Card in South & Central America?

Whenever someone comes to visit us, we always hear the question, “How much money do I need to exchange to bring with me?” Our answer is usually ‘None!’.

There are always multiple ATMs at the airport, so if you already know from this list of banks that give free cash withdrawals in South America & Central America which cash machine you can use with no foreign transaction charges, you can get money out in the local currency for free.

Why waste money on commission fees at the exchange bureau, and be lugging around a huge amount of cash in a developing country where you already stand out as a gringo target? We’re gonna say it one more time, get yourself a Revolut card! 🙂

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Anyway, let’s get stuck into the list of banks that give free cash withdrawals in South & Central America:

These are the transaction-free banks for a Revolut card, but when speaking to people using other foreign bank cards, they have usually been able to use them for free cash withdrawals as well. Always search around for your best deal!

Argentina:

  • Scotiabank

Note: in Argentina, ATMs have very strict limits on how much you can get out a day, and with the inflation of the Argentinian pesos after the recession that began in 2018, this has only gotten worse. It’s quite normal to see a queue of 30 people waiting to withdraw from one cash point, and then for word to spread down the line that the ATM is out of cash.

We got into the habit of taking cash out whenever we saw a free ATM, whether we needed it that day or not.

Belize:

  • Atlantic Bank

Bolivia:

  • Banco Nacional
  • Banco Mercantil de Bolivia

Brazil:

  • Banco do Brasil
  • Bradesco

Note: there are several banks in Brazil for which Revolut will not work at all, including Itaú and Caixa. In addition to this, any foreign card – whether credit or debit – needs to be put through as a credit card in Brazil card machines.

Card machines supplied to shops that we’ve found not to work are Rede and Stone.

Banks with free atms in South America no transaction fee charges Brazil foreign card

Chile:

  • Scotiabank

Colombia:

  • BBVA
  • Davivienda
  • Caja Social (sometimes)

Costa Rica:

  • Banco de Costa Rica

Note: you can normally withdraw both US Dollars and Costa Rican Colones at most banks, but you normally get a slightly better deal if paying in Colones (and you will always get your change back in Colones, no matter what currency you paid in. They’ll round it down if giving change from US Dollars).

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Ecuador:

  • Banco Internacional
  • Bolivariano

Honduras:

  • Davivienda

Mexico:

Bonus North American addition! Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find a bank in Mexico with free cash withdrawals. However, BanCoppel charges a low-ish fee, at 29 pesos ($1.50) per transaction, and Santander charges 34 pesos (but sometimes only worked with a Starling card instead of Revolut, for some reason that Revolut’s admin team couldn’t work out).

Avoid BBVA as they charge a whopping 174 pesos!

You can pay in US Dollars in Mexico’s Quintana Roo area (Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, etc.), and also find ATMs that stock them, but expect a poor rate when withdrawing or spending US Dollars in Mexico.

Nicaragua:

  • BancaRed – free ATMs that incorporate the banks Ficohsa, BDF and Avanz.
  • If you have a Mastercard with another online bank such as Starling, BAC is free, but this will charge for withdrawals using a Revolut Visa card.

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Panama:

Unfortunately, despite trying 6-7 banks we never found any offering free cash withdrawals in Panama, either.

Expect charges to be around $5.95 USD for a non-Panamanian card.

Peru:

  • Interbank
  • BCP (though it has a monthly limit)
  • Banred cashpoint terminals

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So there you have it! We’ll keep building our knowledge of free ATMs in South America and Central America as we continue to travel the region.

And for now, it’s cheers to over 2 years of hard-cash savings from using this list in combination with our Revolut account!

Now that you’ve read all of this post on banks that give free ATM cash withdrawals in South America and Central America, you’ll also find these posts useful:

 

best of latam travel destination guides blog

 

Found this post on finding no charge cash withdrawals abroad helpful?

Give it a pin on Pinterest to be able to find the list of no-charge banks in LatAm again later!

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Last Updated on 13 February 2023 by Cuppa to Copa Travels

29 thoughts on “Which bank ATMs give free cash withdrawals in South America & Central America?”

      1. Just left Chile and from trying most banks I only got free atm withdrawals from Banco Internacional. Now in Uruguay and I don’t think any have free withdrawals. Damn.

    1. Cuppa to Copa Travels

      WOW, no way! Thank you so much for letting me know (1. for the blog info and 2. because I fly back to Mexico in 2 days!). I’ve updated the post 🙂

  1. Great summary! Update from Nicaragua: BancaRed – Free, but works only for Visa, not MasterCard. BAC has fees even with MasterCard

      1. Second the above. BAC in Granada charged $3 with Mastercard (Starling). The only Bancored machine was off when we went

    1. Cuppa to Copa Travels

      Interesting! Mine is Visa, I’m not aware that Revolut give you a choice in which you get – they originally sent me a Mastercard and then changed it to Visa for my next card without notice. Where are you based?

      1. Sorry for the confusion, the message was a reply to a post from Jay about Citibanamex fees in Mexico. Revolut changed what card they offer, I have Revolut MasterCard (I think they offer it currently) and my wife has Revolut Visa, so we have a chance to try both 🙂

  2. Info on Guatemala as of June 2023 in case it’s helpful:

    Bi (Banco Industrial): 4 USD fee, 2000 GTQ withdrawal limit.

    BAC: 40 GTQ fee, don’t know the withdrawal limit.

    5B (yellow cash machines, most ubiquitous): 33 GTQ fee with Mastercard, 50 GTQ fee with Visa. 2000 GTQ withdrawal limit.

  3. Panama increased the ATM Fees in 2023 to 6,50$. There’s no ATM without or with lower fees. This is not decided by the banks themselves, but the company that handles the ATM network.

    In Mexico Citybanamex is also cheap with 30,75 Pesos

  4. Thought I’d share some Argentina info. As far as I can tell there’s no scotiabank in Argentina. There’s plenty of other banks but all of their ATMs are either Link or Banelco.

    In Link ATMs there is a withdrawal fee of around 13USD and at Banelco ATMs the fee is around 10.50USD. This is accurate for my UK bank issued Visa debit card at least.

    I only withdrew money a couple of times given these excessive fees, but I think both ATM types have a 25,000ARS withdrawal limit, which is only about 70USD. However I only tried the ATMs in Bariloche and Ushuaia so perhaps ATMs in bigger cities let you withdraw more.

    A much better option was to pay by card. Bear in mind I have a UK bank issued Visa debit card, so I can’t say for sure if using other card types is the same. But when paying by card I got the “blue dollar” rate. So for example, I had a steak and glass of wine in Buenos Aires which cost 13,700ARS. At the official rate that is around 40USD, but it shows up on my bank statement as closer to 20USD.

    Another good option is to bring money from a neighbouring country like Chile or Brazil if you are there before going in to Argentina. Like the “blue dollar” gives you a much better rate if you want to change USD to ARS in Argentina, you can also get good rates on other foreign currencies, including Brazilian reals and Chilean pesos.

    Money in Argentina is a bit of a pain, so hopefully someone finds this helpful!

  5. In peru, interbank charges 20 soles.. banco de la nacion is free. I just left peru and am in bolivia.. today i’ll try and find a free atm in la paz… love the blog

  6. First trip (Viking cruise) from Florida to Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rico, and Panama. Are Mastercard and Visa credit cards acceptable pretty much everywhere? Our ATM card is from Frost Bank, which is only in Texas. Will any USA bank ATM Cards work in these central American countries? Is USA currency acceptable?

    1. Cuppa to Copa Travels

      Hi there! What a trip you have planned! Not everywhere will accept credit cards, but a lot of major tourist sites will. However, not worth risking so I highly recommend that before you travel you order one of the free top-up travel cards online banks provide that allow you to pay by debit card or withdraw cash without FX commission and with lower/no ATM fees – from the US, check out Charles Schwab or Revolut.
      You can pay in USD in Panama, Costa Rica and some touristy parts of Mexico, but you won’t always get the best rate, and might receive change in local currency.

      Enjoy your time in this wonderful region!

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