The Nuevo Sol (S/.) is the currency of Peru (PEN = International code for the Peruvian currency). It is subdivided into 100 Centimos. There are banknotes for S/.10 , S/.20 , S/.50 , S/.100 and S/. 200. Coins have been issued for 1 Centimo, 5 Centimos, 10 Centimos, 20 Centimos, 50 Centimos, S/.1 , S/.2 , and S/. 5.-.
See our webpage Peruvian Banknotes for images of the notes and information about how to detect counterfeit notes. This page is well worth spending a few minutes reading and may help you to save a lot of money during your visit to Peru.
Still the safest way to travel with large amounts of money. By far the best and most easily changed are American Express, although Thomas Cook, Citibank, and Visa are usually fairly easy to change in the major cities. Try to bring travel cheques in US dollar or Euro currency. To make replacement quicker in case of theft, keep a record of cheque numbers and the original bill of sale in a safe place. Even with proper records, replacement may not always be as quick as the companies promise.
In Peru you will find that the exchange rate for travellers' cheques is 1.5% to 2% lower than for cash - a small price to pay for the added security.
For smaller villages and towns, travellers' cheques may be hard to cash or the rate of exchange is ridiculously poor. For these places bring along cash US dollars. Make sure that the notes that you bring from home or accept are in excellent condition. Even the slightest rip will make exchange almost impossible. Try to get the new style dollars with watermarks and the metallic strip embedded in the note as you're less likely to end up with a counterfeit note.
Credits cards & ATM machines
Of the major credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diner's Club, you'll find Visa the most widely accepted in Peru. All of the major cities have numerous ATMs (automatic teller machines or 'hole in the walls'), so withdrawing cash is easy. Remember that when withdrawing cash using a credit cards you'll start paying interest on the amount from the moment you make the transaction.
Credit cards can also be used to pay shop, hotel and restaurant bills but users should note that they will be charged between 5% and 10% commission, so ask first.
Hint: it is always a good idea to inform your bank or credit card company that you will be visiting Peru. If you don't it is possible that your cards won't be accepted. Keep a note of emergency numbers in case you lose your card or have it stolen.
Direct debit cards
By far the best way to withdraw money from an ATM is by using a direct-debit card such as Visa. On withdrawal, the money is immediately deducted from your bank account and no interest is charged so long as you have sufficient funds back home. The exchange rate is excellent. You may find, however, that like credit cards you may be limited to the amount that you can withdraw each day and if you sit on your card and break it you may be in big trouble!
Try to avoid them if possible. You'll find most of your day queuing!
Casas de Cambio
These 'exchange houses' can be found in just about any town or city on the tourist circuit. They're often open all day and late into the night, are rarely crowded and the exchange rate is nearly always better than the banks.
Changing money on the street is perfectly legal in Peru. Unlike other South American countries, Peru does not have a Black Market exchange rate. In fact the rate on the street differs very little from the Casas de Cambio. Unless you're really stuck for somewhere to change money I don't recommend them.
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