If you are traveling to Guatemala and flying into the Guatemala City airport, you should know there are no ATM’s as you exit the airport. In fact, once you exit the International arrivals area, there aren’t even any currency exchanges.
I was very surprised that none of my friends who had traveled to Guatemala, nor that any of the internet articles I had read on traveling to Guatemala had told me this. This left me and a few other people stranded without the cash we needed to pay a shuttle to leave the airport. Fortunately, our shuttle driver agreed to stop at an ATM en route to Antigua. The shuttle drivers do take US dollars as well as Guatemalan quetzals, but I didn’t have either.
Since the currency exchanges in the airport give a worse than bad rate of exchange, I recommend getting either US dollars or Guatemalan quetzals before you leave when traveling to Guatemala.
Many of the restaurants and shops in the touristy areas such as Antigua do accept US dollars, though not for the greatest rate of exchange. Credit cards are rarely accepted, and, once when I made the mistake of paying with one, I was charged an 8% fee, but I wasn’t told this until the transaction was already processed.
Also, know that the ATM machines in Guatemala are known for ATM scams such as skimming. Most machines now have covers over the keypad to protect you, but I was the victim of an ATM not dispensing the cash but still charging my account anyway. I met others who had the same thing happen in Guatemala. If this happens to you, don’t try to use your card again, as I did. Every time I used my card, money was withdrawn from my account, but I didn’t receive any of it. This happened at one of the 5B ATM machines.
For more information on Guatemala safety and scams, check out this article on my website Travel Scamming.
Have you been to Guatemala? What was your experience like?
Let me know in the comments below!