Money and Costs
Nuevo sol (S)
Budget: Less than S190
- Inexpensive hotel room or dorm bed: S28–165
- Set lunches: less than S15; supermarkets have takeout
- Entry fee to historic sights: average S10
- Double room in midrange hotel: S85–435
- Main dish at midrange restaurant: S40
- Group tours: from S120
Top End: More than S650
- Double room in top-end hotel: from S250–435
- Private city tour: from S200 per person
- Fine restaurant dinner: from S60
Bargaining is the norm at street stalls and markets, where it’s cash only.
ATMs widely available in larger towns and cities. Credit cards accepted in most establishments.
A Note about Prices
Prices are generally listed in Peruvian nuevos soles. However, many package lodgings and higher-end hotels will only quote prices in US dollars, as will many travel agencies and tour operators. In these cases, we list prices in US dollars.
Both currencies have experienced fluctuations in recent years, so expect many figures to be different from what you have read.
- Cajeros automáticos (ATMs) proliferate in nearly every city and town in Peru, as well as at major airports, bus terminals and shopping areas.
- ATMs are linked to the international Plus (Visa) and Cirrus (Maestro/MasterCard) systems, as well as American Express and other networks.
- Users should have a four-digit PIN. To avoid problems, notify your bank that you’ll be using your ATM card abroad.
- If your card works with Banco de la Nación, it may be the best option as it doesn't charge fees (at least at the time of writing).
- Both US dollars and nuevos soles are readily available from Peruvian ATMs.
- Your home bank may charge an additional fee for each foreign ATM transaction.
- ATMs are normally open 24 hours.
- For safety reasons use ATMs inside banks with security guards, preferably during daylight hours. Cover the keyboard for PIN entry.
The nuevo sol (‘new sun’) comes in bills of S10, S20, S50, S100 and (rarely) S200. It is divided into 100 céntimos, with copper-colored coins of S0.05, S0.10 and S0.20, and silver-colored S0.50 and S1 coins. In addition, there are bimetallic S2 and S5 coins with a copper-colored center inside a silver-colored ring.
US dollars are accepted by many tourist-oriented businesses, though you’ll need nuevos soles to pay for local transportation, meals and other incidentals.
Counterfeit bills (in both US dollars and nuevo soles) often circulate in Peru. Merchants question both beat-up and large-denomination bills. Consumers should refuse them too.
To detect fakes check for a sheer watermark and examine a metal strip crossing the note that repeats Peru in neat, not misshapen, letters. Colored thread, holographs and writing along the top of the bill should be embossed, not glued on.
The best currency for exchange is the US dollar, although the euro is accepted in major tourist centers. Other hard currencies can be exchanged, but usually with difficulty and only in major cities. All foreign currencies must be in flawless condition.
Cambistas (money changers) hang out on street corners near banks and casas de cambio (foreign-exchange bureaus) and give competitive rates (there’s only a little flexibility for bargaining), but are not always honest. Officially, they should wear a vest and badge identifying themselves as legal. They’re useful after regular business hours or at borders where there aren’t any other options.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
Midrange and top-end hotels and shops accept tarjetas de crédito (credit cards) with a 7% (or greater) fee. Your bank may also tack on a surcharge and additional fees for each foreign-currency transaction. The most widely accepted cards in Peru are Visa and MasterCard.
- Restaurants Tip 10% for good service.
- Porters and tour guides Tip each separately at the end of the trip.
- Taxis Tip not required (unless drivers have assisted with heavy luggage).