All you need to know about Iberian America

The High Dollar Standards of Latin Americans

Back in the US, a dollar is a dollar.

That's it.

There's nobody looking at your dollar bills when you use them to pay for things unless they are just checking to make sure it isn't fake.

Like if you give a 100 dollar bill to purchase something.

Otherwise, the bill could have maybe some markings on it, a bent corner, slightly ripped, etc.

Doesn't matter.

Nobody cares.

But, when you begin traveling abroad for the first time, you notice that isn't necessarily the case.

The Struggle to Exchange Dollars in Guatemala

Who knew Guatemala would be so "mala" at exchanging dollars?

Haha jaja haha jaja haha .....

Anyway, I remember my first trip to Guatemala because it was my first time ever being outside of the country alone.

During those months, I happened to have a bunch of USD on me that I carried along.

A good deal of it hidden away in my suitcase where I ripped a tiny hole inside of that was basically not noticable whatsoever.

Where I rolled some dollars up and put them inside the suitcase.

No, I wasn't trying to bring over 10,000 USD into another country.

I was just worried I would get robbed and chose to hide some "emergency money" somewhere where I think someone going through my suitcase wouldn't look.

At any rate, the time flew quickly in Guatemala and I figured I would exchange the USD for Guatemalan quetzales soon enough.

When I first walked into some bank looking area, I was ready.

....Or so I thought.

With very weak Spanish, I explained what I wanted and handed the lady behind the counter my money.

Immediately, she's inspecting my dollar bills like they are baseball cards.

Analyzing every little detail quickly.

Putting them into two separate piles.

One for bills she can accept and another for ones she won't.

The ones she would not were because they had very, very slight issues with them.

Imagine I took a dollar out of your wallet right now and just slightly ripped the upper left corner.

Such a small bit that you would hardly even notice.


And right into the "denied" pile it would go!

No matter how small the error, if she caught it while going through the money quickly, then she's not accepting it!

Now, to be fair, you could take that same dollar and try your luck with someone else.

Maybe it would be accepted if the error was truly ever so slight.

If it was more noticeable though -- but not nearly enough to ruin the damn thing when used in most other countries -- then it's not likely the Guatemalan would accept it.

When I would ask why they wouldn't accept it, they gave an answer but, as I said, my Spanish was so shit that I don't think I understood them in the moment.

Consequently, to this day, I still don't get it.

There were, of course, some ironies with it all.

For one, the local currency they would give back WOULD have errors on them.

Imagine trying to be the gringo who gives them the same treatment!

"Nope, nope, yes, nope, yes, yes, nope, nope, nope."

OK, these bills are dogshit. Go get me some new ones.

Chop chop"

Another thing too is that a lot of countries and individuals in said countries REALLY value having USD on hand.

In case inflation gets worse locally or whatever else.

That's something I've learned over the years traveling that was also another surprise to me regarding how much foreigners love having USD.

You don't realize that too much until you leave the US.

So now imagine some Guatemalan being picky about the bill because it literally has that very, very slight rip near the top left corner that nobody would give a fuck about in the US or in most countries.

And I say most countries because, ever since then, I noticed it does seem to be a peculiar detail for some countries to be picky about the bills when most are not.

After leaving Guatemala, I assumed this might be a standard practice in most countries to be extra picky about the bills they exchange for as I had not really experienced exchanging bills in other countries just yet.

But then, to my surprise, it seemed that most other countries I've now exchanged bills in quite frankly don't give a fuck as long as the bill you give them isn't literally ripped in half with blood of a pig smeared all over it.

Here in Mexico where I am now, I've never had to worry about them taking in my USD.

Granted, I haven't exchanged USD in years but I've never worried about them rejecting any of the bills I'd give them.

At any rate, it's a small detail to life abroad in select parts of Latin America.

I'm not sure actually if there's any other Latin American countries that are picky about the quality of the USD you give them.

Not that I can remember but I haven't traded USD in most countries down here.

Anyway, if you got anything to add, drop a comment below.

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Thanks for reading.

Best regards,


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