There are a few times in life when you’ll have to be aware of the currency exchange rates. One is when you’re going on a trip abroad and want to purchase local banknotes. Another is when you’re sending money to Colombia, either as financial gifts, business investments, or to provide crucial support to loved ones.
For any of these situations, understanding how to interpret and apply currency information will help to ensure that you get the best deal when you convert one currency like USD to COP. Read on for Remitly’s quick guide to converting foreign currencies like the euro, the British pound, or the US dollar to Colombian pesos.
A quick look at COP
As previously mentioned, the abbreviation for the Colombian peso is COP. The official peso symbol is $. When writing monetary amounts, you would place Col$ directly in front of the value. For example, you would write Col$30,000 to represent 30,000 COP.
The COP banknotes currently in circulation include:
- 2,000 COP: Featuring artist Débora Arango on the front and an image of the Caño Cristales river on the back
- 5,000 COP: Displaying poet José Asunción Silva on the front and an image of a moorland landscape on the back
- 10,000 COP: Showcasing anthropologist Virginia Gutiérrez on the front and a winding road with a snake on the back
- 20,000 COP: Decorated with a portrait of President Alfonso López Michelsen on the front and an illustration of the La Mojana canals on the back
- 50,000 COP: Adorned with a portrait of author Gabriel García Márquez on the front and an image of the Lost City on the back
- 100,000 COP: Portraying President Carlos Lleras Restrepo on the front and an illustration of the Cocora Valley on the back
The following are the COP coins currently in circulation:
- 50 COP: A nickel-plated steel coin with a plain edge
- 100 COP: A brass-plated steel coin with a plain edge
- 200 COP: A copper-zinc-nickel coin with a plain lettered edge
- 500 COP: A mixed metal coin with a segmented edge
- 1,000 COP: A mixed metal coin with a security edge
Currency exchange explained
The exchange rate shows you how one particular currency measures up against another in terms of its market value. By looking at a “currency pair,” you can immediately know how much of one currency you can purchase with another.
Say you’re looking to convert US dollars to the Colombian peso, and the current rate is as follows:
1 USD = 4091.68 COP
From looking at this currency pair, you’ll know that every US dollar you send will turn into 4091.68 pesos. It’s important to remember that this exchange rate goes up and down. The rate for exchanging currencies like dollars to Colombian pesos can even fluctuate from hour to hour.
There can be various influences that cause changing rates. These include:
- Government debt
- Economic/political stability
- The ratio of imports vs. exports
- Currency demand by traders
For example, if there’s an upswing in international crude oil demand, the country is rocked by a political scandal, or a major firm goes bust, there can be a huge knock-on effect on how much the Colombian peso is valued on the currency market. The upshot of all of this is that sending money to Colombians will result in your recipient receiving different amounts depending on the state of the market.
Since the rate for exchanging USD to COP or COP to other currencies can vary each time you transfer, it’s important to consult a currency converter each time you need to make a transaction.
Why is the Colombian peso conversion so high?
The Colombian peso has seen ups and downs in value over the past year, which isn’t surprising given the financial uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, in February 2021, the peso experienced a spike in value thanks to oil prices rising in response to the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.
We can contrast this with a weakening of the Colombian peso experienced in September 2020, when the Bank of the Republic, the country’s central financial institution, cut interest rates in response to a strong US dollar.
If you don’t really like the idea of entering the rabbit hole of market forces and the economic intricacies of President Iván Márquez’s government, that’s fine. You already have the ability to get the best possible COP conversion by researching remittance services, consulting a currency calculator, and choosing one that offers low fees and fair, clear rates.
Sending money to Colombia: converting to COP
If you’re looking to convert USD, EUR, GBP, or any other currency to COP, you can choose to do it through your financial institution or through a specialist remittance company.
For many people, the bank is still the obvious “go-to” when it comes to turning dollars, euros, and other currencies into Colombian pesos. Its main plus point is that your funds are right there in your bank account, so you don’t have to go through a third party to make the transaction.
The downside to using your financial institution to convert USD to COP is that you may not get the best possible deal. Rates may be less favorable, and the fee you must pay for the service may be higher. As a result, you may spend more on transfers.
If sending money to Colombia in the most affordable way is important to you, a dedicated digital remittance company might be your best choice. As companies like Remitly don’t have brick-and-mortar outlets, we have lower overhead and can pass savings on to our customers through low fees and a favorable rate.
Plus, it’s a misconception that it’s more difficult to make transactions like dollar-Colombian peso transfers through remittance companies. With the best services, you can register for an account in minutes and initiate transactions on the go using a mobile app.
Using Remitly to send COP to Colombia
Thanks to our network of providers like Bancolombia, Banco de Occidente, and many other financial institutions in Colombia, you’ll be able to use Remitly to send money directly to your recipient’s account safely. Or, if it’s more convenient, you can arrange to have your recipient collect the cash in person at a designated pickup point.
It takes just minutes to create a Remitly account through our app or website. Just enter some basic personal information, select Colombia as the country you’d like to send to, and then tell us some details about your recipient to make the transfer happen.
*We may ask for additional documentation depending on the amount sent or if we are unable to verify your identity.
Sending money from Colombia: converting COP to another currency
When it comes to making transfers from Colombia to another country, whether that’s COP to USD, COP to GBP, or something else, it may be helpful to take the same considerations into account. For example, you can consider services, including fees and rates, available through a Colombian financial institution compared to those offered by online-only remittance companies.
Aside from the potential savings offered by the latter, you may also find it’s quicker and more convenient to use a digital app rather than potentially having to go to a bank in person to complete an international transaction.
Further reading: Safely Send Money to Colombia in 5 Easy Steps
What about exchanging COP outside of Colombia?
There are several ways you can exchange COP when abroad, whether you’re seeking US dollars, euros, British pounds, Saudi riyals, and so on. Popular options include:
- Using an exchange service at a hotel or a brick-and-mortar business
- Purchasing foreign currency at a bank
- Drawing cash from ATM machines
- Wire transfers between accounts
- International money transfer apps
Many people traveling abroad like to use currency services and banks due to the sheer convenience of being able to walk up and handle a transaction. However, you’re unlikely to get the most beneficial exchange rates this way. Meanwhile, sending a wire transfer can be an option if you have an account in both countries you’re currently in, but do check what the processing fees are.
It could also be possible to convert currency simply by using your debit or credit card to make a withdrawal at an ATM. While this is an easy fix for tourists and other short-stay visitors, the transaction costs will rack up for workers and students who’ve relocated to the country. Opening a local bank account could be beneficial if you’ve settled for the foreseeable future.
Finding the best Colombian peso exchange rate
Whichever way you want to exchange currencies, the calculations will be done for you by the remittance service. That said, it can be useful to work it out manually yourself, so you can see what the rate equates to and how much is taken up by fees and commissions. After all, the conversion rate posted by a search engine won’t factor those costs in.
Here’s the formula for working it out:
Send currency x Exchange Rate = Receive Amount
This is easy to understand when we use examples with real numbers. Below are hypothetical scenarios, which you can adjust and adapt using whatever quantities you intend to exchange.
How to find US dollar-to-Colombian peso rates
Let’s say you’re sending 100 USD and using this hypothetical exchange rate:
100 USD x 4091.68 COP
The result would be 409,168 COP from 100 USD. But there’s a bit more to work out, as you’ll have to take away transaction costs.
Say, for example, you’re using a bank or remittance service that charges 61,375.20 pesos, or 15 US dollars, per transfer. In this case, you should deduct that from the total amount in COP to see what your recipient would actually collect:
409,168 – 61,375.20 = 347,792.80 COP
With Remitly, the current maximum fee for a US dollar to Colombian peso transfer would be $3.99, or 16,325.80 COP (using the above exchange rate). As you can see, that can amount to huge savings with every transaction, regardless of the current exchange rate.
How to find British pound-to-Colombian peso rates
Planning to transfer 100 GBP? The calculation using this hypothetical exchange rate is:
100 GBP x 5,307.97 COP
This means you’d get 530,797 COP from 100 GBP. You’d then have to deduct the fees to see what would actually be received back home.
How to find euro-to-Colombian peso rates
For our third example, let’s say you’re sending 100 euros.
100 EUR x 4,570.63 COP
In this case, you’d get 457,063 COP. As with the previous examples, you’d then simply subtract the fees to see how much would be received by your loved one.
Getting the best deal
As our guide has shown, you’ll have a number of ways to make currency exchanges involving Colombian pesos. While they’ll all get the job done, some do provide more value and convenience than others. As every little bit matters when you’re sending money to people who depend on you, it pays to pick a remittance service that offers the best possible deal for you.
Remitly is on a mission to make international money transfers faster, easier, more transparent, and more affordable. Since 2011, millions of people have used Remitly to send money with peace of mind.