Peru FAQ #2 - Money in Peru
The currency of Peru is the nuevo sol (symbol: S/.). Nuevo sol banknotes come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200. One nuevo sol (S/.1) is 100 céntimos. Coins are available in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 céntimos, as well as larger denominations of 1, 2 and 5 nuevos soles. A nuevo sole is it is currently worth approximately $0.35US. You can check the most up to date exchange rate online.
Making change in Peru is often a problem. When receiving local currency, always ask for small bills (billetes pequeñas), as change is always in short supply. You should carry small bills and even then be prepared to wait for change.
Ensure all cash you bring to exchange is in pristine condition. Peruvians are very picky about the condition of currency they will accept for exchange.
The best places to exchange money is normally casas de cambio (foreign-exchange bureaus), which are fast, have longer hours and often give slightly better rates than banks. It is best not to change money on the street as counterfeits are a problem.
Many tourist-oriented businesses accept US dollars. Though, you’ll need nuevos soles to pay for local transportation, entrance fees for example to museums, and puchases in small shops or markets (coins or notes in small nominations!).
Automatic Teller Machines
Automated teller machines (ATMs) are the best way of getting cash in Peru. With your credit or ATM card, you can withdraw money (Soles or US Dollar) in all major cities. Visa and Cirrus (Maestro/ MasterCard) are widely accepted. American Express and other networks are to a lesser extent. Please check with your local bank / credit card provider what fees you have to expect when withdrawing money in Peru.
Remember to notify your bank that you’ll be using your ATM card abroad before you leave home.
You can pay with your "tarjeta" in high end restaurants and shops. Make sure you have your ID or passport with you and be aware a fee may be charged for using a credit card (usually charge you a 7% or greater). Your bank may also tack on a surcharge and additional fees for each foreign-currency transaction. Don’t give your credit card to anyone unless you can watch closely what they are doing with it. For example, in a restaurant, the waiter should bring the credit card machine to your table to process your transaction.