Travel Money Guide: Peru

Taking a holiday to Peru? Have a read of our travel money guide to get the most out of the land of the Incas.

Peru is home to the treasures of South America, and tons of Australians heading to Machu Picchu, surfing the coast and navigating the Inca Trail. A cheaper destination than it’s neighbours Ecuador and Colombia, in Peru they use the nuevo sol (PEN). One sol is worth about 40 Aussie cents.

Like other destinations in South America, Peru is a cash based economy. You may find places where you can use your Visa or Mastercard but you shouldn’t rely on using plastic to pay for purchases outside major shops and hotels. Most restaurants, hostels, ticket offices and tourist attractions are cash only, and you definitely can’t use your card in Agua Calientes (Machu Picchu). You’ll need to find a card you can use to withdraw soles for cheap.

Compare travel cards for Peru

Rates last updated September 21st, 2018
Name Product Foreign Currency Conversion Fee Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Cash Advance Fee Annual fee Product Description
28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
3% of the cash advance or $4 (whichever is greater)
$0 p.a.
No foreign transaction fees on international purchases including international purchases online, together with a no annual fee.
Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
2% of transaction amount or $4 (whichever is greater)
$0 p.a.
Offers a $0 annual fee, 0% foreign transaction fees, complimentary international travel insurance and a balance transfer offer.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
2% of transaction amount or $4 (whichever is greater)
$99 p.a.
Receive a 0% p.a. interest rate on purchases and balance transfers for 13 months, complimentary travel insurance and 0% foreign transaction fees.
ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card
0% of transaction value
$5
$0
$225 p.a.
Receive 40,000 bonus Velocity Points, 2 yearly Virgin Australia lounge passes, plus enjoy $0 overseas purchase transaction fees.
Bankwest Qantas Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
2% or $4, whichever is greater
$160 p.a.
Enjoy 0% foreign transaction fees, complimentary travel insurances and earn 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases.
Bankwest More World Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
2% of transaction amount or $4 (whichever is greater)
$270 p.a.
Earn 115,000 bonus points when you meet the spend requirement, receive complimentary travel insurance and a LoungeKey membership.
Bankwest More Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
2% of transaction amount or $4 (whichever is greater)
$160 p.a.
Earn 2 More Rewards Points per $1 spent, 75,000 bonus points when you meet the spend requirement and save with 0% foreign transaction fees.

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated September 21st, 2018
$
Name Product Product Description Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Monthly Account Fee Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Eftpos Fee
ING Orange Everyday Account
Receive a rebate on any international transaction fees and international ATM fees when you deposit at least $1,000 a month and make at least 5 card purchases.
Visa
$0
$2.50
2.5%
NAB Classic Banking with Platinum Visa Debit Card
$10 cashback on contactless purchases, $0 foreign transaction fee and complimentary travel insurance.
$10 monthly account fee.
Receive $10 cashback when you spend $1000 on contactless purchases. Complimentary travel insurance, transport accident insurance, purchase protection insurance and more when you meet eligibility criteria.
Visa
$0
$5
0%
HSBC Everyday Global Account
No foreign ATM or transaction fees.
$0 monthly account fee.
Enjoy no minimum ongoing balance or transaction requirements and the flexibility to hold up to 10 currencies. Apple Pay and Google Pay available.
Visa
$0
$0
$0

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated September 21st, 2018
Name Product Description Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Reload Fee Initial Load Fee
Hold up to 11 currencies, with $0 reload options and get a locked-in exchange rate.
AUD, AED, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD
AUD 1.95, CAD 2.00, EUR 1.50, GBP 1.25, HKD 15.00, JPY 160, NZD 2.50, SGD 2.50, USD 1.95, THB 70.00, AED 6.50

1%
$0
Hold up to 10 currencies and lock in your exchange rate. No load, reload or transaction fees on purchases and part of a worldwide ATM alliance.
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD
AUD 3.50, USD 2.50, GBP 2.00, EUR 2.20, NZD 4.50, CAD 3.00, HKD 20.00, SGD 4.00, THB 95, JPY 260

0%
$0
Load up and lock in up to 10 currencies and benefit from no fees for reloading funds. Comes with a secondary card for added security.
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD

Overseas: $0 per withdrawal via international ATMs


Domestic: $3.75 fee applies

$0
$0
Offers $0 reload options and locked in exchange rates. Use the Currency Pass to spend in up to 10 currencies everywhere Mastercard is accepted.
AUD, USD, EUR, GBP, NZD, THB, CAD, HKD, JPY, SGD
AUD 3.50, USD 2.50, EUR 2.50, GBP 2.00, NZD 3.50, THB 80.00, CAD 3.50, HKD 18.00, JPY 260.00, SGD 3.50
1.1%
$0

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated September 21st, 2018
Name Product Description Minimum Order Amount Maximum Order Amount Delivery/Pickup Method Commission Fees
Travelex makes it easy to exchange and get the best rate on over 40 currencies so you can be prepared for your next holiday.
$500
$5,000
In Store or At Airport
$0

Compare up to 4 providers

How many soles do I need to bring?

The sol is cheaper than Australian dollars and the cost of living in Peru is cheaper than Colombia and Ecuador.

Lima Budget Midrange Expensive
to-sleep Hostel dorm bed:$8 per night 2 star hotel:$50 per night 5 star hotel (Marriott Hotel Lima):$220 per night
to-eat Ceviche:$1.50 Plate of the day:$4 Main dish at world class restaurant:$40
guard Watch the changing of the guards at the Palacio de Gobierno:Free Lima bar crawl (plus drinks):$45 per person 8 day tour of the Amazon and Machu Picchu from Lima:$2,100 per person

*Prices are approximate and subject to change

Exchange rate history

The AUD has been steadily gaining on the PEN for the past two years to the value of about two cents. You can lock in an exchange rate when loading currency onto a travel card or when you purchase traveller’s cheques.

Year Average exchange rate
2012 2.733072
2013 2.609311
2014 2.586607
2015 2.394752
2016 2.481992
2017 2.57757

*Exchange rates are accurate as of 5 September 2017

Travel card, debit card or credit card?

You will need to make ATM withdrawals to cover your day-to-day expenses while travelling in Peru. Visa is accepted by all merchants set up to handle card payments, though fewer vendors accept Mastercard or American Express.

ATMs are common in the cities; Banco de Credito del Peru (BCP) operates ATMs throughout the country and Citi has a small presence in Lima and Cusco. The maximum you can withdraw in one transaction is 700 soles, or about $300 Australian dollars, and there is a charge of 7 soles from the local ATM operator each time you make a withdrawal.

Travel money options for Peru at a glance

Travel money options Pros Considerations
Prepaid travel cards
  • No currency conversion fees
  • Loadable with Australian dollars
  • No international ATM withdrawal fees
  • Cannot load nuevo soles
Debit cards
  • Can be used at all ATM and merchants in Peru
  • Charge less or $0 fee for ATM withdrawals
  • No currency conversion fee
  • ATM operator fees
Credit cards
  • Complimentary insurance
  • Access to airport lounges
  • ATM withdrawal fees can be waived
  • up to 3% currency conversion fee may apply
Travellers cheques
  • Secured
  • Can be converted to cash in most banks within Peru
  • A commission fee applies
Cash
  • Handy
  • Useful for small purchases and payments
  • Security
  • Foreign exchange fee may apply

How each travel money option works

Prepaid travel cards

There are no prepaid travel cards that let you load nuevo soles. Consider a travel card with no currency conversion fees if you’re going to take one of these products to Peru. There are a couple to choose from including the:

These products don’t charge for currency conversion, so you can load them with Australian dollars and withdraw soles without paying the additional fees. However, these cards do charge for international ATM withdrawals. You can avoid both the currency conversion fee and international ATM withdrawal fee by using debit or credit cards.

Debit Cards

A Visa or Mastercard debit card can be used at all ATMs and merchants throughout Peru. Compared to Australia, you’ll find that there are far fewer places where you can use your card for over-the-counter purchases. Consider debit cards that charge less, or even nothing, for international ATM withdrawals and try to avoid cards with currency conversion fees too.

One product on the market that fits this description is the Citibank Plus Everyday Transaction Account. This account doesn’t charge for currency conversion, waives the fee for international ATM withdrawals and has no annual fee. It’s good to note that most third-party bank operators will charge a fee to use their ATMs, so if you can find a Citi ATM, you’ll avoid ATM withdrawals fees altogether.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are a must for any overseas holiday. As well as providing emergency access to a line of credit, you can use a credit card for deposits and online bookings. Credit cards even have some handy travel features such as complimentary insurance and airport lounge access, though most credit cards charge a fee of about 3% of the transaction value for currency conversion.

Our comparison of credit cards includes a handful of products suited for an overseas trip. Among these products are the 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard and the Bankwest Platinum credit cards. It is possible to preload these cards with your own money, which makes credit card withdrawals significantly cheaper. The cash advance fee may still apply; however, you can avoid the cash advance rate of interest.

Travellers Cheques

Once, travellers cheques were a popular way to take foreign currency overseas. Today, this type of travel money has been replaced by plastic. Travel cards, debit cards and credit cards offer the same security features and are more convenient. In Peru, traveller’s cheques can be cashed at most banks, but be aware that you may pay a commission when you do this.

Cash

Cash is king in Peru. You will need to make ATM withdrawals so that you can use cash to pay for your travels throughout Peru. You can make an ATM withdrawal or exchange foreign cash at one of the many money changers located throughout the towns and cities.

Exchanging money

In the Miraflores region of Lima, look for the men wearing blue jackets standing in the street. They’re legitimate and there are a lot of them so they offer a decent rate and don’t charge a commission on currency exchange. Make sure you have good US dollar bills if you need to exchange money. Licenced (and even unlicensed) money changers won’t take torn or damaged notes. Many travellers put in the extra work to find quality notes in Ecuador before heading to Peru.

  • Tip: ATMs dispense $100 notes and it can be very difficult to find a place to get them broken. Pay for your big ticket purchases using your $100 notes.

Amy shopped like a local in Peru

Amy spent six months in South America, she started her trip in Colombia and finished in Peru after seeing Machu Picchu and walking the Inca trail. In Peru she visited Chimbote, Lima, Cusco and Agua Calientes.

What cards did you take with you to Peru?

Amy took her NAB Traveller Card, St.George Visa Debit Card and St.George Vertigo Platinum. She used the NAB Traveller Card for ATM withdrawals as it doesn’t charge international withdrawal fees. She transferred money from her St.George transaction account to her NAB Travel Card when she needed travel funds and she used her St.George credit card for big ticket purchases.

Where were you able to use your cards?

Amy didn’t use her cards for over the counter purchases at all; she used cash the entire time she was in Peru, and almost the entire time she was in South America. She found that high-end retailers, expensive restaurants and hotels were the only places where she could use her cards.

What about ATM withdrawals?

Amy made withdrawals every week-and-a-half or so. She was able to get 700 soles from the machine at a time and she paid 7 soles for each withdrawal. The NAB Traveller Card does not charge for international ATM withdrawals so the local ATM operator fee was the only charge.

Do you have any travel money tips?

Always try and get lower denominations from ATMs as it can be hard to break large notes. Also, in Agua Calientes, make sure you have enough cash for your trip to Machu Picchu as banks and ATMs are hard to find.

Buying currency in Australia

Soles are an exotic currency and you may find it difficult to find a bank or exchange office that can sell you PEN. You will get a far better deal if you wait till you arrive in Peru to purchase soles.

peru-nuevos-soles-banknote

Find bank, cash and ATM in Peru

Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options

You will be using cash in Peru. Take a travel card, debit card or credit card that lets you withdraw your money for less from an ATM. Spread your travel budget across a couple of cards so you have access to money in the event of the unexpected. If you have a question about taking and using travel money in Peru, get in touch with us using the form below.

Find cheap travel insurance options for your next trip to Peru

Made a search before? Retrieve your search results

At least one destination is required
Both dates are required
Add more travellers
Enter the age of each traveller between 0 and 99

Enter a valid email address

At least one destination is required
Starting date is required
Add more travellers
Enter the age of each traveller between 0 and 99

Enter a valid email address

Type or Select your destination(s)

Popular Destinations

Americas
Asia
Europe
Pacific
Africa
Can't find your destination? Just type it in the box above.

We compare products from

By submitting this form, you agree to the finder.com.au Privacy & Cookies Policy and Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy.
Back to top
Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Related Posts

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Privacy & Cookies Policy and Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy.

2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    CathyMay 14, 2018

    Just reading through your information regarding travel cards in Peru and notice that a person used the NAB travel card with ease, from what I’ve been reading, Peru prefers visa and the NAB travel card is a Mastercard. Does this matter? Am I better to find a visa travel card for travel in Peru to access money?

    • finder Customer Care
      JeniMay 15, 2018Staff

      Hi Cathy,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      Visa is the most widely accepted card (tarjeta) in Peru, and nearly all ATMs accept Visa for cash withdrawals. You’ll also find some ATMs that accept Cirrus/MasterCard, but Visa is the most common.

      While we are not allowed to provide specific recommendation, I suggest that you pick which do you think will make you more comfortable using in Peru. You may also contact NAB directly if you are considering getting a prepaid travel card with them or you may look around for other prepaid travel cards.

      I hope this helps.

      Have a great day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

Ask a question
Go to site