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The quetzal is the currency of Guatemala. We have heard it called everything from kwet-zals to pretzals, but the proper pronunciation is ket-sahl (sounds like “Kate-Saul”, plural “Kate-Saul-Ace”). It is abbreviated as Q.
FUN FACT: The quetzal is the national bird of Guatemala. The ancient Maya used the quetzals’ tail feathers as currency! (Sorry, feathers won't help you during our trip, though.)
Exchange rate can be checked online at www.xe.com. However, please note that the average exchange rate offered in country is Q7.5 for $1 USD.
Prior to our trip, check with banks in your local area to see if they will exchange dollars for quetzales. Guatemalan bills come in denominations of Q200, Q100, Q50, Q20, Q10, Q5 and Q1. ATMs are very common throughout Guatemala. This liberates you from the responsibility of carrying everything in cash. In fact, in larger cities and particularly in Antigua and Guatemala City, you can just as easily pay with a card! Keep in mind that they have a daily withdrawal limit of Q2,000 (though you can usually charge more), and your bank might charge you a small fee for each withdrawal. Make sure to let your bank know that you will be traveling to Guatemala so that they do not block your card!
While generally any Visa or Mastercard works fine, a prepaid MasterCard Travel Card is a great option for traveling. You can sign up online or at the currency exchange desks in airports. It only takes about 10 minutes to register. You link the card to your bank account, and can thereafter put money on it when needed. You can of course always use your regular card, but prepaid travel cards are great for traveling.
Please do NOT exchange money at the airport because the rate is very unfavorable. In Antigua, there will be banks in Central Park where you can exchange money, but make sure to have your passport with you. It is best not to rely on banks being open or hotels having enough cash, so please come prepared with cash and a credit card for souvenirs and any extra activities. As you know, your lodging, meals, transportation and our team cultural activities are covered in your trip fee.
Christ-follower. Mompreneur. @Habitat_org Global Village Team Leader. Crab claw lover. Advocate for adequate shelter, releasing children from poverty and ending human trafficking and slavery.