Money in Peru: Answers to all your questions

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Money in Peru: Answers to all your questions

Nuevo soles of PeruPeru bound traveler, meet Peruvian money.
Photo by Derek Law/Flickr

Getting ready for that dream vacation to Peru? One thing that is often overlooked is the daily act of using money in a foreign country. How much do things cost? What is the exchange rate? Where do I take out money? Can I use my credit card? The daily economic life in Peru is a little different than that of any other country, and it is important to be prepared before you step foot on the plane. Here are some helpful tips and advice to consider when traveling in Peru.

What is the currency of Peru and how much is it worth?

Oreos on sale at a grocery store in PeruMany large grocery stores carry some of the same products as American grocery stores. The only difference is that they are in Spanish.
Photo by David Berkowitz/Flickr

The national currency of Peru is the Peruvian nuevo sol, currency code PEN. In everyday exchanges, you will see prices abbreviated S./ (amount). The Peruvian money is produced in S./ 1, 2, and 5, while the bills are produced in S./10, 20, 50, and 100.  There are 100 centimos in S./ 1.

One important thing to know about Peru is that typically food and services are significantly less expensive. A delicious and filling three course menu can be had for less than US$4, and a taxi ride to anywhere in Lima is no more than US$15. But some products are significantly more expensive, like bath and beauty products (i.e., lotions, shampoos and conditioners, toiletries, sunscreen, insect repellent, etc.). Higher end hotels typically provide complimentary bath and shower products, but it would be a good idea to bring your own sunscreen and insect repellent, since those things are comparatively more expensive in Peru.

Can I use American dollars or travelers’ cheques in Peru?

In major cities, a majority of upscale restaurants, big shopping malls, hotels, and large grocery stores will accept American dollars in lieu of soles, but sometimes it’s a lower exchange rate and expect change back in local currency. Also, it is not always guaranteed that the cashier will have enough bills to give you change, especially if paying with larger bills. The best practice is to use soles whenever possible and save American dollars for exchanging and emergencies. Make sure you have plenty of smaller bills in soles, like 10s and 20s. These bills are easier to handle, especially for small businesses and taxi drivers.

Travelers’ cheques are very uncommon in Peru. Use cash whenever possible.

Where do I take out and exchange money?

Globalnet cajero in PeruATMs in Peru typically dispense nuevo soles and American dollars. Make sure you contact your bank to learn about additional fees for using your card in a foreign country.
Photo by interbank.com.pe

There are 4 major banking companies throughout Peru: BCP, Scotia Bank, BBVA Continental, and Interbank. These banks usually have ATMs (called cajeros automaticos in Spanish) at their branches, large supermarkets, shopping centers, and gas stations. ATMs usually dispense both American dollars and nuevo soles, but always bear in mind there are transaction charges every time you use the ATM. Consult with your bank prior to your trip departure to become aware of these fees as well as any specific instructions for using your debit card in Peru.

People changing money in PeruIt is very easy to change money in Peru. Just look for the guys in the vests with currency decals. They are usually near banks, and they will give you the best rate.
Photo by larepublica.pe

Changing money in Peru is very easy. While you can exchange American dollars at banks and Casas de Cambio, more often than not you get the best rate when you exchange money with cambistas, or money changers. Cambistas wear brightly colored vests displaying a dollar sign and a euro symbol, and they usually stand in front of or very close to banks. Make sure the bills you are exchanging are not torn, ripped, or marked in any way, otherwise the cambistas might not accept them.

Click here to learn how to avoid counterfeit currency in Peru.

Can I use my credit card in Peru?

Lots of restaurants, hotels, and large shopping malls accept credit cards; usually Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover, with Visa being the most widely accepted. Most establishments that accept credit cards will have a sign displaying which types of cards they accept, but it is always a good idea to ask beforehand. In restaurants it is always good to have some cash to tip the waiter and valet because gratuity cannot always be added to the bill. Check out our guide to tipping etiquette when visiting Peru.

Are you ready to experience Peru?

Do you have any other questions about the currency in Peru? Leave a comment in the comment section below! You can also contact us today to speak with an experienced travel advisor to plan all the details of your next Peru vacation!

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About Author

Katy is no stranger to the life of an international traveler. After graduate school, Kathleen worked in California in the legal field, but later realized that life was calling her in a different direction. After a short time in Peru, she fell in love with the culture, the people, the food, and the way of life. Now Kathleen calls Lima her “home away from home,” although she frequently visits the warm, sunny northern Peru to see friends and surf.

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