Credit Cards and Debit Cards in Chile: how do they work?

Let's have a look at how the credit cards and debit cards work in Chile. What you should know, what you should avoid to do...

Credit Cards and Debit Cards in Chile: how do they work?

14/10/2016, updated 15/06/2023

Several types of cards exist in Chile:

  • Debit cards, available with checking accounts (cuenta corriente) and also with the CuentaRUT of BancoEstado
  • Credit cards, available on request
  • Consumer credit cards, which all big retailers (Falabella, Jumbo) try to sell you

Debit cards

Debit cards allow you to:

  • Withdraw cash from ATM
  • Pay in all shops the accept RedCompra (nearly all of them)
  • Pay online on all websites that use WebPay (the online equivalent of RedCompra)

Credit cards

Credit cards in Chile work like an extra account separated from your current account. The bank gives you a limit (usually $500,000 at the beginning) that you can use as you want in shops or to pay online. This is called your cupon in Spanish.

The amount used is debited from your bank account once a month at a fixed date. If you exceed the limit, the card stops working until the next month. You can still call your bank if needed, they will "force" the debit on your account, and the next day you will have your full "cupon" available again.

Take care:

Do not to use your credit card to withdraw cash at an ATM. The bank will charge you an expensive "cash advance" fee (around 7% of the amount)

Consumer credit cards are very popular in Chile. Yet, you should check the interest rates on these credit cards, which can be very high.

When you pay by credit cards, you will often be asked "con quotas" or "sin quotas". This means "do you want to pay cash, or in installments?" This happens even if you pay 5000/10000 pesos. Again, you should check the interest rate, although most shops offer payments up to 6 installments without interest.

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