Right now, the exchange rate is basically $1USD to $3,000COP. ($10USD = aprox. $30,000COP) Without a local bank account you will be limited to withdrawing cash from the ATMS. Often times the withdrawal limit is$300USD. Expect to spend about $10USD each transaction in fees between your bank fees and the Colombian bank fees. In a month of traveling, I spent about $100 in fees. You can avoid them by being smart, use your credit card in the cites and save cash for street vendors and pueblos. When you use your card, the cashier is likely to ask you how many payments that you want to make. It’s like a built in layaway program in their credit system. Unfortunately, Paypal isn’t an option unless you are making international transactions. Domestic transactions aren’t possible because PayPal doesn’t work with the COP, so locals can’t connect their bank accounts.
I did the currency exchange at my local bank prior to departure for two reasons: 1. To have cash on hand when I arrived. 2. So that my bank knew that I was traveling abroad and didn’t lock my account. Since I would have a lot of cash on hand, I started using the two wallet system. You can even add in a third stash spot in your backpack/suitcase. It’s pretty self explanatory, you carry two wallets between which you disperse your money and credit cards. If you get jumped or robbed, you have a better chance of not being totally screwed.