Money matters

Costs

Over recent years, a stronger peso has increased the costs for foreign visitors to Chile and travelling on a budget has become a bit of a challenge. Still, the city remains a vastly affordable destination by Western European standards, or next to the big cities in the US. For a double room in a mid-range hotel, expect to pay 25,000 CLP – 40,000 CLP a night. For a hostel bed, prices range between 7,000 CLP – 15,000 CLP. Restaurant meals are fairly inexpensive all round, but if you are tempted – as you probably will – to indulge in Chilean wine tasting, allocate between 15,000 CLP – 20,000 a day for food. For travels within the city allow between 2,000 CLP and 4,000 CLP, depending on your reliance on the transport system. An cup of espresso will cost around 600 CLP – 1,000 CLP.

Tipping

Tipping in restaurants is largely discretionary and is seen as proportional to the level of service you have received. Whilst 10% is something of an indicative figure, most Chileans choose to round up the bill rather than make careful calculations. Note, however, that there is a tacit expectancy for foreigners to give a more generous tip. Taxi drivers don’t expect tips, but again, rounding up the fare is appreciated, also for convenience’s sake.

Credit Cards / Cash Machines (ATM)

Outlets other than small shops readily accept Visa and MasterCard, and to a lesser degree American Express and Diners. Discover and JCB are just about useless in Chile. Debit Cards such as Maestro and Visa Electron are widely accepted. For Debit Cards payment, you will be asked to enter your PIN number on a pad (which is that of your Cash Machine, in case your Maestro/Visa Electron does not come with a ‘chip’).

You will normally be required to show ID when paying with a credit card, so carry your passport or national identity card when making a transaction.

Cash Machines (ATM) are ubiquitous in Santiago. They all operate under one network (Redbanc) so it makes no difference where you want to withdraw money. After you’ve inserted your card, remember to select ‘Foreign card’ option. You should note that in Chilean Cash Machines, cash comes out before the card, so don’t forget to collect it.

Consumer rights

Back in the old days, you needed divine intervention to obtain a refund in Chile. With the introduction of customer services standards in departments stores and larger retailers, local shoppers have acquired a taste for consumer justice. Still, it is no easy task to convince a small shop owner to take an article back, but if you’re persuasive (and legally savvy, providing you’re not on the wrong side of the law) you may stand a chance of victory. If that proves fruitless or if you have more considerable disputes with a company, you can always issue a formal complaint to the Servicio Nacional del Consumidor (Sernac). They will require a long time to build up your case, so don’t expect immediate results.

Servicio Nacional del Consumidor
http://www.sernac.cl/
Phone: + 56 (600) 594 6000

Bargaining

Bargaining is not a common practice in Chile and shoppers who insist on endless negotiation are not met with much sympathy.