The safe and legal way is to use an ATM.
Alternatively you can ask just about anyone at the airport or hotel where you can exchange some money and they'll direct you away from the official exchange to a friend of theirs. You can haggle to a certain extent but in Dec 2009 we were offered 2-3 times the official exchange rate. almost 8 years ago
We have a big problem in Venezuela, we have like 3 different rates. The safe one (but you won't get that much) is at the airport or hotel at an official exchange office. At the airport, there are a lot of people that are going to 'jump' at you asking if you want to exchange, I don't recommend you that, since they could have fake or take advantage of you, although there are a lot of people that do it and you will get more BsF. If you know someone who you can trust 100% try exchanging with that person since it's not the official rate and you can get more BsF. At the ATM, is secure, but you also will get the official rate.
On the other hand, carrying with you cash is not that safe, try having some cash with you and leave other at a safe place at your hotel room. A lot of places (stores, restaurants...) they will accept credit cards as well. Not everywhere, so ask before.
Venezuela is gorgeous, but you have to be careful!
If need more information about Venezuela, let me know, I'll be happy to help you.
www.accesototal29.blogspot.com almost 8 years ago
Please bear in mind that the government here (Venezuela) has imposed exchange controls; that means that it is impossible to get or pay for services in US $ while in the country. The only way to get a better rate for your US $ is on the black market. It is actually illegal, but everyone is in on the act. Bring in US $ cash and exchange them with people you know. No strangers! If you are to withdraw money from an ATM or use your credit cards you will only get Bolivares at the official rate of Bs. 4.3 for US $ 1. If you walk into the bank/exchange house to exchange US $ you will also only get Bolivares at the rate of Bs. 4.3 for US $ 1. Black market rate is about Bs 7.0 for US $ 1. Changing money at banks/exchange houses will make your trip really expensive; therefore, some tour operators have implemented some solutions in order to get you better rates in US $ for your expeditions in Venezuela. For example: Some operators hold foreign bank accounts. You can then transfer funds into their foreign accounts, get a great rate for your US $ and not only reduce the price of your program but also reduce the security hazards of bringing a lot of US $ cash into Venezuela.
As a tip, try not to look to touristy, save your sandals for when you are on tour, don't wear them in the city. Do NOT wear expensive items such as sunglasses or jewelry, and do NOt carry much cash around with you. And always carry a copy of your passport.
Hope you find this info useful.
All the best,
Thomas almost 8 years ago
I have read the other answers and they seems pretty good, the truth is that if you use your credit card you will end up paying near twice the price. Bringing cash its the ideal method, but is always a risk what my american friend do when she comes here is that she brings cash, and also uses her credit card but to buy amazon gift certificates here to her friends and they pay her in cash, that way she doesn't loose money and don't have to bring sooo much cash. Know it doesn't sound that easy but if you have at least just one friend here they would definitely find someone interested. over 7 years ago