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Travel money guide: Peru

Traveling to Peru? Read our travel money guide to get the most out of the land of the Incas.

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If you’re traveling to Peru you’ll likely visit Machu Picchu and navigate the Inca trail, but there’s so much more to Peru to see. From the superb surfing and the bustling city of Lima, Peru is a must-see destination for anyone seeking adventure.

Cheaper than it’s neighbors, Ecuador and Colombia, your USD will go far in Peru with 1USD = 3.25PEN. And like its neighbors, cash is king, so be sure to exchange your dollar for sols at the airport in Lima. Though you’ll find places where you can use your Visa or Mastercard, don’t rely on using plastic outside of major shops and hotels. Most restaurants, hostels, ticket offices and tourist attractions are cash only, and you definitely can’t use your card in Machu Picchu.

Fake money in Peru

Counterfeit sols and dollars are a problem in Peru, mostly in the major cities. And spotting a counterfeit note can be hard, so become familiar with the local currency before you arrive. Scams are also common — short changing and pickpockets — so always be on alert.

Our picks for traveling to Peru

American Express® Gold Card logo

Our pick for travel credit card

American Express® Gold Card

★★★★★
TransferWise Borderless logo

Our pick for multi-currency debit card

TransferWise Borderless

★★★★★
SoFi Money logo

Our pick for 0% transaction fee debit card

SoFi Money

Not yet rated

Travel card, debit card or credit card?

Plan to use your debit card to cover most of your day-to-day expenses while traveling in Peru. Visa and Mastercard are accepted by merchants that are set up to handle card payments, though fewer accept American Express. You’ll see those more at luxury hotels and restaurants.

You’ll find ATMs in most cities. Banco de Credito del Peru (BCP) has ATMs throughout the country, while Citi has a small presence in the larger cities of Lima and Cusco. Beware that in Ollantaytambo, home of the great Inca fortress, the ATMs can be unreliable, and there are no ATMs near Macho Picchu — so get cash before you leave.

Wait until you arrive in Peru to exchange you USD. Exchange companies in the US charge high commission, taking a cut of what could go a long way in Peru. You’ll find exchanges at the airport and in the cities or in banks — all offering about the same rate.

There are no travel cards that support Peruvian sols. If you can load another currency, find another card that waives the currency conversion fee so you can use it in Peru.

You will be using cash in Peru. Take a travel card, debit card or credit card that lets you withdraw your money for less from an ATM. Spread your travel budget across a couple of cards so you have access to money in the event of the unexpected.

These are your options for spending money in Peru

Using a credit card

Credit cards are a must for any travel overseas. Besides providing emergency access to a line of credit, use a credit card for deposits and online reservations. Credit cards even have some handy travel features such as complimentary insurance and airport lounge access. But be careful, many credit cards charge a fee of about 3% of the transaction value for currency conversion.

Our comparison of credit cards includes a handful of cards suited for an overseas trip. Among these products is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Pros
  • Rewards program and travel insurance
  • Waived international ATM and conversion fees
  • Interest-free days on purchases
Cons
  • Up to 3% currency conversion fee may apply
  • Cash advance fee

Using a debit card

ATMs are the best ways to get cash in Peru. You’ll find them in most towns and cities, though not on every street corner. You can withdraw both sols and dollars.

A Visa or Mastercard debit card can be used at all ATMs and some merchants throughout Peru. You’ll find that there are fewer places where you can use your card for over-the-counter purchases. Consider debit cards that charge less, or even nothing, for international ATM withdrawals and try to avoid cards with currency conversion fees.

Charles Schwab bank card doesn’t charge for currency conversion, waives the fee for international ATM withdrawals and has no annual fee. It’s good to note that most third-party banks will charge a fee to use their ATMs.

Pros
  • Can be used at all ATM and merchants in Peru
  • Charge less or $0 fee for ATM withdrawals
  • No currency conversion fee
Cons
  • ATM operator fees
  • No access to cash advance

Using a prepaid travel card

No travel cards support Peruvian sols, so look for a card which waives the currency conversion fee, such as Travelex if you’re set on taking a travel card when you visit Peru. These products won’t apply the additional charge for currency conversion when you spend in sols, which can be higher than what you’d pay if you use your regular debit or credit card. The compromise is these cards will charge you to use an international ATM withdrawal in Peru, which is a couple of dollars for each withdrawal. You can load these cards with another currency to use at some merchants— but don’t count on it. And you won’t get the best exchange rate.

  • Tip: When you get a travel card, you’ll get two for the same account. This can come in handy if your first card is lost or stolen, so make sure to keep the second card in a safe place.
Pros
  • Protected by PIN & chip
  • Emergency card replacement and backup cards
  • Reloadable online
Cons
  • Cannot load sols
  • Comes with lots of fees for loading and reloading, inactivity and ATM withdrawals
  • Exchange rates are lower than credit cards and debit cards

Paying with cash in Peru

Cash is king in Peru. Make ATM withdrawals at the many machines in the cities, and some in the smaller towns and villages. In general, Peruvians like small denominations — equal to $20 USD or less so they can make change. If you do pay with larger bills, be sure that you count your change to be sure you’re getting the correct amount.

When you pay by cash, especially in US dollars, be ready for the merchant to scrutinize the condition of your bills. Many merchants will reject torn or overly worn bills.

Pros
  • Accepted anywhere
  • Convenient
Cons
  • More difficult to manage expenses
  • High risk of theft

Using traveler’s checks

Once upon a time travelers checks were a popular way to take foreign currency overseas. Today, this type of travel money has been replaced by plastic. travel cards, debit cards and credit cards offer the same security features and are more convenient. In Peru, traveler’s checks can be cashed at most banks, but be aware that you may wait in long lines and pay a commission.

Pros
  • Accepted at most banks
  • Security
Cons
  • A commission fee applies
  • It can take a couple of hours to cash them at banks

Compare travel credit cards

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
American Express® Gold Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
3x points on directly-booked flights; 4x at restaurants; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points)
$250
Earn up to 4x points on select purchases, a bevy of travel perks, and a welcome offer worth up to $600 with this upper-mid tier travel card. Rates & fees
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a value of up to $750 through Chase Ultimate Rewards
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95
Earn a signup bonus worth $750 with this popular travel card. Combine with other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards for even greater value.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
75,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 6 months, plus 10x points at US gas stations and US supermarkets on up to $15,000 in combined purchases in the same timeframe
10x points at US gas stations and US supermarkets on up to $15,000 combined in the first 6 months, 5x points on directly-booked flights or on flights and hotels on Amex Travel. 1x points on all other purchases. Starting January 1, 2021, your 5x points on flights will be capped on up to $500,000 annually (then 1x points).
$550
One of the most valuable premium travel cards, featuring two welcome offers worth up to $4,500, multiple travel credits and unrivaled lounge access. Rates & fees
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
10x points on Lyft rides, 3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases
$550
Get a generous $300 in annual travel credits, 3x points on travel and dining, and a 50% bonus on point redemptions with Chase's premier card.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
75,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
6x points at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3x at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines and 2x for all other purchases
$450
Earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 or more within your first 3 months. Rates & fees
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Exchange rate history

As one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America, Peru has seen a sharp decline in poverty in recent years. It has one of the most stable currencies and has held steady agains the USD for the past 10 years.

Live Rate

= S 3.6054

Refreshing in: 60s | Tue, Jan 19, 08:26AM GMT

Buying currency in the US

Sols are an exotic currency and you may find it difficult to find a bank or exchange office that can sell you PEN. You will get a far better deal if you wait till you arrive in Peru to purchase sols.

Peruvian currency

Sols are an exotic currency and you may find it difficult to find a bank or exchange office that can sell you PEN. You will get a far better deal if you wait till you arrive in Peru to purchase sols.

10 Peruvian Sols20 Peruvian Sols50 Peruvian Sols
100 Peruvian Sols200 Peruvian Sols

The main banks in Peru are:

  • Banco de Crédito del Perú
  • Interbank
  • BBVA Perú
  • Banco Pichincha
  • Citibank del Peru SA
  • Scotiabank Perú
  • Banco de Comercio
  • Banco Interamericano de Finanzas
  • Banco de la Nacion
  • Banco Santander Peru
  • Scotiabank

ATMS in Peru

Cash pickup services in Peru

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
$1 Within an hour USD 3.99 3.587 PEN 3,573 WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups. Go to site Show details
$10 Within an hour USD 1.99 3.533 PEN 3,526 Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
Go to site Show details
$1 Within an hour USD 8.00 3.524 PEN 3,496 MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide. Show details
$1 3 - 5 days USD 20.00 3.515 PEN 3,445 Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world. Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

How much should I budget to travel in Peru?

As a major tourist attraction throughout the world, there are plenty of opportunities for you to spend a lot in Peru. But the good news is there are less expensive options for budget travelers who can budget as little as $15 dollars a day staying in hospedajes — cheap family owned hotels. Midrange travelers can budget for $50 a day, and a traveler that wants to live it up can plan for $150 a day. All prices are in US dollars.

LimaBudgetMidrangeExpensive
AccomodationHostel dorm bed

$8 per night

2 star hotel

$20 per night

5 star hotel

$100 per night

MealsCeviche

$1.50

Plate of the day

$4

Main dish at world class restaurant

$30

ActivitiesWatch the changing of the guards at the Palacio de Gobierno

Free

Lima bar crawl (plus drinks)

$35 per person

8 day tour of the Amazon and Machu Picchu from Lima

$1,600 per person

Prices are approximate and subject to change

Case study: Amy's experience

Amy profile photo
Amy

Amy shopped like a local in Peru

Amy spent six months in South America, she started her trip in Colombia and finished in Peru after seeing Machu Picchu and walking the Inca trail. In Peru she visited Chimbote, Lima, Cusco and Agua Calientes. We interviewed Amy about her experiences with travel money in Peru.

Do you have any travel money tips?

Always try and get lower denominations from ATMs as it can be hard to break large notes. Also, in Agua Calientes, make sure you have enough cash for your trip to Machu Picchu because banks and ATMs are hard to find.

She also said not to be afraid to haggle over prices, especially in traditional markets. Prices start high, with the expectation that you’ll settle on a price that’s acceptable for both of you. It doesn’t hurt to try negotiating prices for hotel and hostel rooms, especially if you plan on straying there for four or five days.

When it comes to cab rides or another kind of service where the price isn’t plainly displayed, be sure you agree on a price before accepting the service. Taxis don’t have meters to measure the mile per dollar, so negotiating a fair price before your ride will save you money in the end. If you think the fare is too high, find another taxi — it’s easier than arguing a high price at the end of your trip.

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