The Value of the Peruvian Nuevo Sol (S/) vs. Other Popular Currencies
Rates fluctuate, so before departing, consult a website such as www.oanda.com/currency/converter to check up-to-the-minute rates. At press time, US$1 equals S/3.29.
On the whole, although prices have risen in the past few years and Peru is slightly more expensive than its Andean neighbors Ecuador and Bolivia (but less expensive now than Chile and parts of Brazil), Peru remains relatively inexpensive by North American and European standards. To those with strong currencies, Peru (outside of top-end restaurants and hotels) is likely to seem comparatively cheap. Peruvians tend to haggle over prices and accept and even expect that others will (politely) haggle, except of course in major stores and restaurants. In the bigger cities, prices for virtually everything—but especially hotels and restaurants—are higher, particularly in Lima. In addition, prices can rise in the high season, such as the Independence Day holidays (late July), Easter week (Mar or Apr), or Christmas, due to heavy demand, especially for hotel rooms and bus and plane tickets.
What Things Cost in Peru S/.
Taxi from Lima airport to Miraflores S/55
Short taxi ride in town S/5–S/10
Double room, inexpensive hotel S/60–S/150
Double room, moderate hotel S/150–S/350
Double room, expensive hotel S/350–S/650
Three-course dinner for one without wine, moderate S/65–S/95
Cup of coffee or bottle of water S/3
Museum admission S/5–S/20
Peru’s official currency is the nuevo sol (S/), divided into 100 centavos. Coins are issued in denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50 centavos, and 1, 2, and 5 soles; bank notes in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 soles. The U.S. dollar is the second currency; some hotels post their rates in dollars, and plenty of shops, taxi drivers, restaurants, and hotels across Peru will also accept U.S. dollars for payment. Note: Because many Peruvian hotels, tour operators, and transportation vendors charge prices solely in dollars, U.S. dollar rates are often listed in this book.
Peru is still largely a cash society. In villages and small towns, it could be impossible to cash traveler’s checks or use credit cards. Make sure that you have cash (both soles and U.S. dollars) on hand. If you pay in dollars, you will likely receive change in soles, so be aware of the correct exchange rate. U.S. dollars are by far the easiest foreign currency to exchange. Currencies other than U.S. dollars receive very poor exchange rates.
Automated teller machines (ATMs) are the best way of getting cash in Peru; they’re found in most towns and cities, although not on every street corner. ATMs allow customers to withdraw money in either Peruvian soles or U.S. dollars. Screen instructions are in English as well as Spanish. Some bank ATMs dispense money only to those who hold accounts there. Most ATMs in Peru accept only one type of credit/debit card and international money network, either Cirrus (www.mastercard.com; tel. 800/424-7787) or PLUS (www.visa.com; tel. 800/843-7587). Visa and MasterCard ATM cards are the most widely accepted; Visa/PLUS is the most common.
Be sure you know your personal identification number (PIN) and daily withdrawal limit before you depart. At some ATMs, your personal identification number (PIN) must contain four digits.
Travelers should beware of hidden credit- or debit-card fees. Check with your card issuer to see what fees, if any, will be charged for overseas transactions. Recent reform legislation in the U.S., for example, has curbed some exploitative lending practices. But many banks have responded by increasing fees in other areas, including fees for customers who use credit and debit cards while out of the country—even if those charges were made in U.S. dollars. Fees can amount to 3% or more of the purchase price. Check with your bank before departing to avoid any surprise charges on your statement.
Banks are no longer the place of choice in Peru for exchanging money: Lines are too long, the task is too time-consuming, and rates are often lower at casas de cambio (exchange houses) or by using credit or debit-card ATMs or money-changers, which are legal in Peru. If you can’t avoid banks, all cities and towns have branches of major international and local banks; see “Fast Facts” in individual destination guides for locations. Money-changers, often wearing colored smocks with “$” insignias, can still be found on the street in many cities. They offer current rates of exchange, but count your money carefully (you can simplify this by exchanging easily calculable amounts, such as $10 or $100), and make sure you have not received any counterfeit bills.
Counterfeit bank notes and even coins are common, and merchants and consumers across Peru vigorously check the authenticity of money before accepting payment or change. (The simplest way: Hold the bank note up to the light to see the watermark.) Many people also refuse to accept bank notes that are not in good condition (including those with small tears, that have been written on, and even that are simply well worn), and visitors are wise to do the same when receiving change, to avoid problems with other payments. Do not accept bills with tears (no matter how small) or taped bills.
Making change in Peru can be a problem. You should carry small bills and even then be prepared to wait for change.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.