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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.

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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

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Name Product Foreign currency conversion fee Interest-free period Purchase rate p.a. Annual fee
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1 - 2 of 2
$
Name Product Card access ATM Withdrawal Fee Monthly Account Fee Internatonal ATM Fee Foreign transaction fee
HSBC Everyday Global Account
Visa
$0
$0
0%
Earn 2% cashback on tap and pay purchases. T&Cs apply.
Enjoy no minimum ongoing balance or transaction requirements and the flexibility to hold up to 10 currencies. Apple Pay and Google Pay available.

Westpac Choice
Mastercard
$0
$5
3%
Take advantage of Westpac's Global Alliance and save on overseas ATM fees at over 50,000 locations worldwide with fee-free cash withdrawals.
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1 - 1 of 1
Name Product Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Initial Load Fee Reload fee
7-Eleven Just Go Pre-Paid Travel Card
AUD,USD,EUR,GBP,NZD
EUR €0, GBP £0, AUD $0, USD $0, NZD $0
$0
$0
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Name Product Minimum Order Amount Maximum Order Amount Delivery/Pickup Method Commission Fee
Foreign Xchange Travel Money
$0
$9,999
In Store,Home Delivery
$0
Order multiple currencies in one transaction and have it delivered directly to your door anywhere in Australia. No delivery fee for orders over $1,000. A $10 flat fee applies to orders less than $1,000.
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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-sleepHostel dorm bed:$8 per night2 star hotel:$50 per night5 star hotel (Marriott Hotel Lima):$220 per night
to-eatCeviche:$1.50Plate of the day:$4Main dish at world class restaurant:$40
guardWatch the changing of the guards at the Palacio de Gobierno:Free Lima bar crawl (plus drinks):$45 per person8 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.

YearAverage exchange rate
20122.733072
20132.609311
20142.586607
20152.394752
20162.481992
20172.57757

*Exchange rates are accurate as of 5 September 2017Today's exchange rate AUD to PEN

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 optionsProsConsiderations
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 Latitude 28° Global 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.

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.

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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?

    • Avatarfinder 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

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