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Culture Corner

Currency

How much is the Chilean peso worth?
The national currency in Chile is the peso. Chilean coins are in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500 pesos; Chilean bills are in denominations of 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, and 20,000 pesos.

Should I bring a credit card?
YES, absolutely! In addition to bringing an ATM card to obtain cash, you should definitely bring a credit card. The majority of credit cards are accepted at hotels, department stores, restaurants, supermarkets, movie theaters,etc., but make sure you ask the credit card company beforehand if there are any additional transaction fees for international purchases. Hospitals often require a credit card number to treat students! ISA resident directors cannot and will not charge student medical visits to an ISA credit card. For this reason, you may need a credit card for medical emergencies.

Conversion Rates

What is the Chilean peso worth compared to the dollar? With the peso in constant flux, please see www.oanda.com for up-to-date exchange rates. While traveling, it may be helpful to carry a portable currency converter, which can be purchased at most travel stores.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Valparaíso and Viña del Mar is comparable, in general, to the cost of living in the United States. This can seem expensive to the untrained traveler, but there are many ways to live comfortably on a budget if you pay attention to what you spend and look out for different deals and events offered throughout the city. Remember that eating and shopping locally will always help you save some money!

Budgeting
Former students have given us some idea of what you should expect to spend per week while in Chile. Due to the fluctuation in rates of exchange and differences in individual spending habits, we can only give you estimated figures. Based on previous experiences, most students seem to spend anywhere from $75 to $250 per week. Of course this amount varies depending on your spending habits, although $75-$150 is recommended for weekly expenses and $100-$250 for traveling on weekends. This figure, of course, does not include extravagant traveling or heavy shopping.

Remember, you will be responsible for all meals not eaten at your host family/pension and for any additional activities, tours, or excursions you wish to participate in. Obviously, if you are looking to keep this figure down, try to find things to do in and around Valparaíso rather than traveling every weekend. Again, keep in mind that these are rough figures and that some students spend less and others more. Many students highly recommend creating a budget for yourself before you get to Chile or soon after you have arrived so that you do not overspend.

When budgeting, keep in mind that it is always better to overestimate than to underestimate. To give you an idea of common approximate expenses and commodities a typical student will incur, please see the brief list below (all costs are in Chilean pesos):

TRANSPORTATION:
Bus ("la micro"):

  • Local (within same city):280
  • Valparaíso to/from Viña 410
  • w/ student discount: 130
Subway ("el metro")
  • Local (within same city): 300
  • w/ student discount: 150
  • Valparaíso to/from Viña: 400
  • w/ student discount: 200
Shared Taxis ("colectivos")
  • Local (within same city): 350
  • Valparaíso to/from Viña: 450

MEALS:

  • Coffee/Tea: 300 to 600 pesos
  • Soda: 250 to 500 pesos
  • Sandwich: 300 to 990 pesos
  • Lunch Specials ("colaciones") at café or university cafeteria: 500 to 1200 pesos
  • Restaurant Meal (lunch or dinner): 2500 to 5000 pesos
  • Meal in a Very Nice Restaurant: 7900 to 11000 pesos

Additional Estimated Expenses

The ISA program cost includes items such as tuition and fees, housing, insurance, and more. To view what is included in your program price, please visit the What's Included section of the ISA Valparaíso and Viña del Mar program page.

The Additional Estimated Expenses sheet in the Accepted Students section of the ISA website has the following estimated expenses listed:

  • Airfare
  • Books and Supplies
  • Meals (3 meals per day are included)
  • Passport
  • Student Visa
  • Entrance Fee
  • Personal Travel

ISIC Card

It is recommended that students look into purchasing an ISIC card for their studies in Chile. The ISIC card is an internationally recognized student ID card that gives students thousands of discounts worldwide from travel to cinema, meals and more. While you will likely have a student ID from your host university abroad, it may not grant you discounts that an ISIC card could. You will likely be able to purchase an ISIC card abroad, but it is most convenient to purchase this card BEFORE you arrive, as it may grant you travel discounts, and you won't have to deal with the hassle of international delivery. To find out how to get an ISIC card, visit www.isic.org. Once there, you can find information on discounts in Chile, and what is needed to obtain an ISIC card.