What is the Currency
The Nuevo Sol (S/.) is the official currency in Peru, and has denominations of 200, 100, 50, 20 and 10 Nuevo Soles in notes, and coins in denominations of 1 Nuevo Sol, 50, 20, 10 and 1 cents. The US dollar is also a legally accepted currency, and can be used in most major cities in Peru, but is typically reserved for more expensive purchases.
Exchanging Money in Peru
US dollars and the Euro are accepted in the many exchange shops you will find in tourist areas. Sterling is no so well accepted and can be harder to change, so it is best to come prepared with some dollars.
Should you wish to change money most hotels offer an exchange service, but better exchange rates can be found at Casa de Cambios (exchange shops) generally found close to the central tourist areas. Avoid using people on the street to change money, as you are advertizing your money, and use a counter inside a shop where less people can see your transaction. Also, do not be afraid to check out a few exchange rates before you hand over your cash, and use their calculator to double check the amount they are giving you.
The current exchange rate at the time of publishing this article is: US$1 = 2.84 Nuevo Soles.
False money in Peru is a common problem both with the Nuevo Sol and the US dollar. As a visitor it is often difficult to know if you have received a false note or coin, so it is important to check any money you receive carefully for signs of falsification.
Defaced, Ripped or old Money
It is important to know that ripped or defaced US dollar notes are not accepted in Peru, therefore when exchanging money or receiving dollars, it is important to be sure that the notes are in good condition.
Often perfectly legal notes are rejected in Peru because the notes are old or dirty. Many shop keepers do not want to be left with a note that they cannot use or the banks may reject. Should you find yourself with an old that no one will accept, then you can take it to the National Bank of Peru to be changed.
ATMs / Cash Points / Credit Cards
There are many ATMs throughout Peru, and cash can easily be obtained with the use of a debit or credit card. MasterCard and Visa are the most common cards used in ATMs with American Express less frequently found. Never use a cash point on the street, always opt for a machine inside a bank.
Credit cards are accepted in most hotels and up market shops, but are generally used less than in western countries. For purchases of snacks, drinks, meals and small items it is always best to use cash. Should you use a credit card in Peru, it is usual to pay a local commission of unto 5 percent.