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The Complete Guide to Currency in Peru

Many Peruvian and Northamerican bills.

Embark on a journey with Peru Amazon trips to find out where the resilience of currency in Peru intertwines with affordability in this captivating destination.

Peru stands out for its remarkable economic resilience, notably after the pandemic and other chaotic events.

Comparatively, Peru is a more budget-friendly option than other South American counterparts, such as Chile and Brazil. Additionally, when measured against the more expensive European destinations favored by tourists, Peru emerges as a cost-effective choice. Travelers from countries with robust currencies find exploring Peru surprisingly affordable.

While managing Peruvian money generally poses no major challenges, incorporating our currency insights into your plans can greatly enrich your travel experience.

Peruvian money spread over a table.

Current Currency

Peru utilizes the Peruvian nuevo sol (PEN) as its official currency, commonly denoted as S./ followed by the amount. Coins are issued in denominations of S./ 1, 2, and 5, while bills range from S./ 10 to 100, with each S./ 1 being equivalent to 100 centimos.

The Nuevo Sol (S/) stands as Peru’s official currency, with 1 Sol equating to 100 cents.

However, some products like beauty and bath items may be relatively more expensive. Consider bringing your own lotions, sunscreen, and insect repellents to offset potential higher costs in Peru.

Find a breakdown of the coins that are found in Peru below:

Coins

Denomination Earliest Date Latest Date
10 céntimos 1991 Actuality
20 céntimos 1991 Actuality
50 céntimos 1991 Actuality
1 sol 1991 Actuality
2 soles 1994 Actuality
5 soles 1994 Actuality

The current coins that circulate as official currency in Peru.

Bills

Denomination Latest Date Color Character Reverse
10 soles Present Green Chabuca Granda Vicugna vicugna & Ismene amancaes
20 soles Present Orange José María Arguedas Vultur gryphus & Cantua buxifolia
50 soles Present Magenta María Rostworowski Panthera onca & la Puya raimondii
100 soles Present Blue Pedro Paulet Loddigesia mirabilis & Phragmipedium kovachii
200 soles Present Lavender Tilsa Tsuchiya Rupicola peruvianus & Dalechampia aristolochiifolia
The bills series that is currently handled in Peru (except the S/.200.00 bill.
The bills series that is currently handled in Peru (except the S/.200.00 bill.

Usage of Dollars in Peru

It’s no secret that the American dollar stands out as a widely accepted currency around the globe and Peru ain’t an exception.

As a matter of fact, the dollar is the second most accepted currency in the country, however, not every business will accept payments of a hundred dollar bills exceptuating the exchange houses.

Since a vast majority of the country still deals primarily with cash currency, we’d recommend any visitor to keep some change in local currency to avoid issues.

Carrying dollars for their use may be viable only in certain areas in Peru.

In major cities, upscale establishments, malls, hotels, and large grocery stores often accept American dollars, though the exchange rate may be lower.

To navigate this, it is recommended to use soles whenever possible, reserving American dollars for exchanges and emergencies. Carrying smaller bills in soles, such as 10s and 20s, facilitates transactions, particularly with small businesses and taxi drivers. Travelers’ checks are rare in Peru, making cash the preferred and practical mode of payment.

Money Withdrawal and Exchange

Solo travel in Peru is not only secure but also facilitated by numerous exchange houses conveniently located in key tourist areas. These establishments readily accept a variety of global currencies, with the Dollar and Euro being particularly popular, though British pounds may face some reluctance.

Look out for itinerant money changers, or cambistas, recognizable by their colored vests adorned with currency symbols. While they offer on-the-spot exchange services, exercising caution is advised, and opting for established exchange houses, or “casas de cambio,” is generally safer.

In addition to exchange houses, Peru hosts four major banking companies—BCP, Scotia Bank, BBVA Continental, and Interbank—all equipped with ATMs, or cajeros automaticos, at branches, supermarkets, malls, and gas stations. These ATMs typically dispense both American dollars and nuevo soles, albeit with associated transaction charges. Before departure, consult with your bank to understand these fees and any specific instructions for using your debit card in Peru.

Money trading is relatively easy in any major city in Peru, specially around touristic areas.

Regardless of your choice between exchange houses and banks, ensure that the bills you present are in good condition, as street cambistas may reject torn or marked currency. Whether exchanging money or withdrawing from ATMs, staying informed about the current exchange rates is crucial for a seamless financial experience in Peru.

Counter the Counterfeit

Peru faces a persistent issue with counterfeit currency, impacting both nuevos soles and US dollars, especially in major cities. Recognizing fake banknotes can be challenging, stressing the importance of early familiarity with the local currency. Deceptive practices, like deliberate short-changing and swindles, require vigilance.

Identifying counterfeit bills or coins is not always straightforward, prompting both merchants and consumers to carefully verify money. As a foreigner, discerning subtle differences can be challenging, underscoring the need to review cash carefully. While debit or credit cards are recommended, those handling cash should verify authenticity, for example, by holding bills up to the light for watermarks. New banknotes introduced in 2011 incorporate international security measures and feature figures from Peru’s cultural history, offering reassurance.

Beyond currency concerns, travelers may encounter various scams, including corrupt officials imposing unexpected “foreigner taxes” or overcharging by taxi drivers. Vigilance is crucial to avoid falling victim to fraud while exploring Peru. Additionally, staying updated on local news and customs can contribute to a smoother and more secure travel experience.

Money falsification is a generalized problem all across the globe, be careful.

Additonal tips

TEXTURE EXPERIENCE

Peruvian currency diverges from conventional paper; crafted from 100% cotton, it boasts a distinctive texture, enhancing resilience beyond standard printer paper. By running your fingers over specific areas, such as the Central Reserve Bank’s printed name or the National Emblem, you can feel the intricacies of older Nuevo Sol bills. Newer notes introduce raised details adjacent to the portrait.

VISUAL AUTHENTICATION

Unlocking the visual secrets of Peruvian banknotes is an essential skill. When held against a light source, an authentic bill reveals a watermark, showcasing a multi-colored, three-dimensional image of the featured personality. This watermark, distinguished by sharpness and clarity, stands out from blurry imitations. Additionally, observe the visible security stripe, displaying the word “Peru” when old Nuevo Sol bills are held to the light. This feature is exclusive to the new S/. 10, S/. 20, and S/. 50 bills.

KINETIC DISCERNMENT

A subtle tilt adds another layer of security. Horizontally positioning the bill and gently moving it up and down unveils the optical variable ink. This special ink, present in the middle of old Nuevo Sol bills and beside the image on newer ones, changes color with a slight turn. Notably, new S/. 100 and S/. 200 bills feature a mesmerizing moving fish, adding an extra layer of security through dynamic visuals.

Bills are mainly handled by oneself, make sure that you check your bills before continuing with your trip.
Bills are mainly handled by oneself, make sure that you check your bills before continuing with your trip.

Bargain your way

Negotiation is a prevalent practice in Peru, particularly in scenarios lacking clear price labels, such as traditional markets or taxi rides.Foreign tourists face inflated prices, requiring confident haggling for a fair cost in markets and services in Peru.

However, exercise caution to ensure a balanced approach, avoiding excessive bargaining that may negatively impact the livelihoods of local artisans.

Souvenirs without a pricetag are commonly found across Peru.

Shape your Adventure

Embarking on the enigmatic journey of understanding Peruvian currency is an evolving exploration. These insights serve as your compass, guiding you through the intricate financial landscape. For any lingering questions about Peru’s currency, the Peru Amazon Trips team awaits your consultation. Our adept consultants orchestrate seamlessly, weaving the threads of your dream trip for an unforgettable experience. Seize the chance to reserve your forthcoming vacations in a realm where aspirations transform into reality.

Amidst Peru’s abundance of offerings, Peru Amazon Trips’ profound tourism proficiency simplifies the creation of an indelible experience, particularly in the enchanting vicinity of Machu Picchu.

Feel free to drop your queries, we’ll be ready to intricately plan every facet of your upcoming Peru escapade!

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