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Money exchange ..black or legal?

Amsterdam
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134 posts
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Money exchange ..black or legal?

I've been hearing that the best thing to do is change euro's for bolivars on the black market.

I'm just wandering, when I arrive in Venezuela, how do I know which exchanger to trust (at the airport, for example) ?

Isn't it dangerous, when police officers notice it for example? And isn't the risk for counterfeit money pretty high?

Caracas, Venezuela
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515 posts
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11. Re: Money exchange ..black or legal?

AT THIS MOMENT (it will drop as soon as the government sells some bonds):

in Caracas, the tourist rate is always the same because it's tied to the official rate. It is BsF 5.00 to the USD.

The black market rate is between 5.50 to 6.00 depending on amounts you change and where. Of course, if you try to trade with the wrong black market guy, the exchange rate is 0.00 because you will lose all your money.

Outside of Caracas, both tourist and black should be between 5.50 to 6.00.

Italy
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12. Re: Money exchange ..black or legal?

thanks!

a.

Philadelphia...
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13. Re: Money exchange ..black or legal?

if anyone is interested i have 440 bolivares fuertes which is a little more than 100 us dollars at todays rate. II have had these for almost 2 years now and have been unable to exchange them, if anyone is interested in purchasing them for dollars, or even euros let me know. This is not a scam and i will send u the bolivares before you send me any money or money orders, so u can examine them and be sure they are legitimate. Or even if theres anyone out there that can exchange these and wants to make a few bucks ill send them to you, then you exchange them and you send me the dollars or money order, Im only asking for half of the exchange rate which is 50 us dollars, so its a quick 50 bucks for anyone interested. I live in New Jersey, call me at (267) 231 2044. or email me at joppatrain@hotmail.com

thanks

mark

USA
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14. Re: Money exchange ..black or legal?

A couple points. Be sure to take a calculator. There are rigged calculators all through latin america. If you run into a money changer with one then 1+1 may equal 3. Dollars are going to be more popular and easier to exchange in more places. BUT... whatever your bring..they most be absolutely mint condition. The slightest smudge or tear or even pencil mark on a foreign bill and it will be rejected. Next door Colombia has the world's finest counterfeitors.... even better than the North Koreans. So folks are on the lookout for bogus US bills. BTW... all that new stuff... threads, ultraviolet inks, pukie colors... the Colombians get that down pat in no time. The one thing that can't be faked on US bills is the feel. The Colombians produce comparatively few crooked Euros. In general Latin Americans haven't bought into the myth of the Euro and don't want to hold on to them for long. These rules hold true if you are visiting any other countries in the region. Except in Peru there is also for some unexplained reason a big production of local bogus currency. No advice as to who to trade with. You take a risk. But, if you do get busted the rule is to pay off immediately. The longer you wait the more folks get involved and the costlier it becomes. Hope you read this soon because we know the TA censors will yank this one.

Caracas, Venezuela
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515 posts
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15. Re: Money exchange ..black or legal?

Avoid everything GTBob said by simply trading ONLY with your tour operators (bb owners, tour guides, etc) and avoiding the black market guys.

Munich, Germany
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16. Re: Money exchange ..black or legal?

Hi, we just got back from Caracas Airport. We changed money at the airport with one of the many men who approached us. He helped us with something else, then asked us if we wanted to change money...and of course we had to to, since even though we were just transferring through Caracas, we had to pay the exit tax.

We changed Euros at 6 Bolivar per Euro. This was also offered by several other guys, so I guess it is the current 'airport rate'.

I normally don't change money like this, but honestly, the person behind the counter where we had to pay told us we needed to change some Euros and pay in Bolivars, and when I asked where the exchange office was, he told me to just 'change your money with one of those guys over there', and watched while we did so.

If I had read Nelven's post, I would have probably been too scared to do so, but we really had no choice because the cash machines would not accept our cards without a Venezuelan ID number.

Joanne

Caracas, Venezuela
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515 posts
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17. Re: Money exchange ..black or legal?

Joanne, you HAD TO change it there (if you have no other choice, then do it) and you were also lucky. It's just like swimming in a Venezuelan jungle river. Hungry piranhas are not ALWAYS around.

Just now I got news of a tourist (staying with a posada owner I know) that got caught by police in a downtown shop buying with fake Venezuelan currency. Guess where he got it! The cops that got him made half a month's paycheck off of him and gave him a day to never forget, oh, and took all his fake bills (and maybe a few not so false).

Recomending to trade at the airport is like recomending you to evade taxes in the US or in England. The revenue service MIGHT not get you.

I insist, even though say 70% of the cases of trading at the airport are OK, you don't want to fall into that other 30%. Counterfeit bills and trade & rob are very common, especially if you take the pirate cabs they also offer you. They buy fake Venzuelan bills for one fourth their face value and then turn them into real and crisp dollars, laundering those counterfeit bills and making a killing in the process.

TRADE WITH YOUR FRIENDLY TOUR OPERATOR. NOT AT THE AIRPORT. If you have no other choice, trade at your own risk hoping that you fall in the hands of an "honest" trader like Joanna did. Wheeew!

Munich, Germany
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18. Re: Money exchange ..black or legal?

Yes, Nelven, we were lucky. I agree! The security police in the airport were very scary, and they delayed our flight by almost 2 hours by calling people 'randomly' from the passenger list and taking them off somewhere at the other end of the airport for a security check. They took them in groups of 2 or 3 men or women at a time, and each group was gone for about 15 minutes. It was ridiculous, since most of the people they took away were over 60, and several were in wheel chairs. The flight attendant told us afterward that they were all Venzuelan citizens. When they finally let us on the plane, it took over an hour to board because the drug police searched everyone again.

The whole airport (outside the security area) is very scary and threatening, because you are constantly harassed by men in uniforms or wearing some kind of official ID who act as if they are trying to help you, but really just want to change money or direct you to a fake taxi.

I think your advice is absolutely the best, and I advise everyone to take it!

Joanne

USA
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19. Re: Money exchange ..black or legal?

Nelven. Don't want you to think that I was encouraging them to deal in the black. Only giving procedures. At least in the airport you can assume the money changers aren't carrying guns. The concept of the rule of law is rapidly vanishing as the thug Chavez tries to hold on to power in the face of a collapsing economy. Sorta like the problem faced by a certain Indonesian muslim. The random questioning of people is partially an attempt to trip up outside help. Somehow, Venezuela has received lists of names from the US of people to detain. I disagree with the suggestion to trust tour guides and such. DISIP is seeding the industry with operatives. If you trade with a tour operative, never give them or anyone an idication of how much money you are carrying. There have been several well publicized robberies of tourists or groups of tourists in Latin America that were traceable to insider info concerning their finances and location.

Amsterdam
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20. Re: Money exchange ..black or legal?

We've been back from Venezuela for about a month now and everything went totally fine. The arrival at the airport was kind of intimidating, like mentioned before. One big chaotic hall full of legit and probably less legit people in uniforms.

We found our pick up guy, who turned out to be someone else than we expected. I went to the bathroom in the airport, called the posada owner and she confirmed this guy was replacing the regular driver.

Since we stayed in Choroni, a small coast town, we had no problem finding a trustworthy changer. But from what I saw, I would never put myself in the position of changing at the airport.

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