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Money and Costs in Peru

The official currency of Peru is the nuevo sol (abbreviated as PEN); since its inauguration in 1991 it has been one of the most stable currencies in Latin America. As of June 2012, it stands at 2.69 nuevo soles to the dollar.

The symbol for the nuevo sol is S/. The nuevo sol is divided into 100 centimos (cents). Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 centimos, and there are banknotes for 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 nuevo soles.


You can exchange both U.S. dollars and Euros (as well as currencies from some nearby Latin American countries) in Casa de Cambios (exchange houses) throughout Peru; these tend to offer better rates than banks. Cash is the most common form of payment in Peru; in small towns and small businesses, it it usually the only way of paying.

U.S. dollars are widely accepted in cities, especially in upmarket restaurants and hotels. Smaller businesses generally only accept soles. Note that U.S. dollars must be in perfect condition in order to be accepted: no business will take a note with even the tiniest tear, as banks will not accept them. If you do happen to damage a note, take it back home with you and change it there.

Change can be an issue in Peru, with businesses reluctant to give away precious coins. Don't try to pay for something that costs 1 nuevo sol with a 20 nuevo sol note. Carry as much small change as you can

Banks, ATMs and Credit Cards

There are several national banks throughout Peru, and many have ATMs which accept international debit and credit cards. Using an ATM is probably the best way of obtaining money in Peru, in order to avoid carrying around large wads of cash.

The bank from which you withdraw money will generally charge you a fee, as may your bank back home-be sure to check with your bank regarding international withdrawal charges. Note that ATMs in Peru usually eject your bankcard after giving you your money, unlike many ATMs abroad. This sometimes results in foreigners walking away from ATMs with their cash but not their card, so be careful.

You will find banks and 24-hour ATMs in all cities, but smaller towns may not have these services (they may have ATMs, but they do not always work), so it is wise to carry extra cash with you if you go outside of the city.

Several hotels and high-end restaurants and shops also accept credit cards, though they charge a fee-check what it is first. Mastercard and Visa are the most common and some also take Diners or American Express. Again, check with your bank regarding any fee you may incur using your credit card abroad.

Traveler's Checks

Several banks in Peru exchange Traveler's Checks; Casa de Cambios generally do not. Banks often charge high commission on traveler's checks, so you may lose out. American Express and Visa Traveler's Checks are the most commonly accepted.

Wiring Money

If for whatever reason you find yourself without access to money in Peru, do not despair. Folks back home can wire you money through Western Union (URL: or MoneyGram (URL: You will find Western Union or MoneyGram in major cities and tourist hubs such as Cusco; check individual cities for listings.


The tourism industry in Peru caters to all budgets, from the shoestring traveler to those who want to travel in style.

Budget Travelers

Budget travelers can budget from around $20 a day. To do this, stay in a cheap hostel (between $6-10) where breakfast is included, and share a dorm room. If the hostel has a kitchen, buy groceries at the supermarket and cook your own meals. Eat lunch at restaurants that serve almuerzo (an inexpensive set-menu lunch that costs between $2-3). Use economy-priced buses (be warned that they're uncomfortable and not as safe though). Travel independently where possible; guides and agencies will cost more.

Mid-Range Travelers

Mid-range travelers should budget from about $45 a day. A double room in a comfortable mid-range hotel will start at around $25 per night (per room: if you're sharing, you'll be laughing!). An entree in a pleasant restaurant will cost you between $6-10. With the extra money you have, you will be able to visit more attractions and use tour agencies to see the sights. Use higher-end buses: the extra comfort (and peace of mind-they tend to be safer) will be worth it.

Luxury Travelers

Travelers without budget restrictions will be able to glide through Peru. There are many top-quality hotels, restaurants, and tour operators that are relatively inexpensive by first-world standards. Luxury hotels start at around $80 for a double room (prices can go into the thousands however). An entree at a top-end restaurant should set you back no more than $15. You will also find travel agencies that cater to luxury travelers, allowing you to see the amazing sights of Peru in comfort-and privately. You can save time (and avoid long journeys) by flying between cities; all major cities and tourist hubs are served by at least one airline.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Peru: Peru-Chile Border Crossings, Holidays and Festivals in Peru, Health in Peru, Teaching English In Peru, Etiquette in Peru, Highlights of the Southern Coast, Literature In Peru, The Economy of Peru, Lake Titicaca Homestays and Gay Arequipa.

By Ricardo Segreda
Growing up in New York, Rick Segreda used to cut out of high school in order to hang out at the Museum of Modern Art and catch foreign-language...
05 Jun 2012

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