Travel Money Guide: Peru

Rates and Fees verified correct on December 10th, 2016

Taking a holiday to Peru? Have a read 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.

Which option is right for your next trip?

ANZ Travel Card

ANZ Travel Card

The ANZ Travel Card is a prepaid card that can be loaded with up to 10 foreign currencies to make purchases overseas at over 36 million locations.

  • Lock in your exchange rates and know how much money you have to spend
  • No transaction fees for electronic purchases in Australia and overseas
  • Multiple reload options - online, over the phone or in person
  • Manage your money online or over phone 24/7
  • Spare card if in case one is lost or stolen

    Compare travel cards for Peru

    Rates last updated December 10th, 2016
    Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Reload Fee Initial Load Fee
    ANZ Travel Card
    ANZ Travel Card
    AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD, AUD 3.50, CAD 3.00, EUR 2.20, GBP 2.00, HKD 20.00, JPY 260, NZD 4.50, SGD 4.00, THB 95, USD 2.50 1.1% of the value purchased $0 Go to site More
    NAB Traveller Card
    NAB Traveller Card
    AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD $0 per withdrawal on international ATMs and $3.75 per withdrawal at any Australian ATMs $0 $0 Go to site More
    Cash Passport MasterCard
    Cash Passport MasterCard
    AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD $2.50 for withdrawals made overseas 2.95% of the amount withdrawn for domestic withdrawals $0 $0 Go to site More
    Qantas Card with Qantas Cash
    Qantas Card with Qantas Cash
    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 $0 $0 Go to site More
    Travelex Travel Card
    Travelex Travel Card
    AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD Travelex does not charge an ATM withdrawal fee when you use your Travelex Multi-currency Cash Passport to withdraw currencies that are loaded on the card at overseas ATMs where MasterCard is accepted. The greater of 1.1% of the initial load / reload amount or AU$15.00 $0 Go to site More
    Rates last updated December 10th, 2016
    Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (MC) Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (VISA) Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Annual fee
    Bankwest Zero Platinum MasterCard
    An introductory offer on balance transfers with $0 annual fee. Complimentary travel insurance & 24/7 Concierge service and $0 foreign transaction fees.
    0% of transaction value $0 $0 p.a. Go to site More info
    28 Degrees Platinum MasterCard
    Benefit from no international transaction fees on purchases, no currency conversion fees and no annual fee.
    0% of transaction value $0 $0 p.a. Go to site More info
    Rates last updated December 10th, 2016
    $
    Monthly Account Fee Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Fee Free Deposit p.m. Details
    St.George Complete Freedom Account
    $0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network.
    Visa $0 $2,000 No account keeping fees, if you deposit $2,000 per month plus no minimum balance required. No ATM fees when using St.George, Westpac and BankSA ATMs. Open More
    Westpac Choice
    $0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network.
    Mastercard $0 $2,000 No ATM fees when using St.George, Westpac, BankSA or Bank of Melbourne ATMs in Australia. Deposit at least $2,000 per month and enjoy no monthly service fee. Open More
    Bank of Melbourne Express Freedom
    $0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network.
    Visa $0 $1,000 No ATM fees when you use Bank of Melbourne, St.George, Westpac and BankSA ATMs. No monthly fees if you deposit $1000 into your account each month. Open More
    Bankwest Qantas Transaction Account
    No overseas ATM withdrawal fees (charged by Bankwest), 3rd party ATM fees and international transaction fees may still apply.
    Mastercard $0 $2,000 No monthly fees when you deposit at least $2,000 into your account each month. Free access to Bankwest and CommBank ATMs in Australia. No overseas ATM withdrawal fees (charged by Bankwest) though third party fees may apply. Open More
    Citibank Plus Everyday Account
    No international transaction fees and no overseas ATM withdrawals fees if you use a Citibank ATM overseas.
    Visa $0 $0 No ATM fees using Citibank, Westpac, BankSA and St.George branded ATMs in Australia. Use overseas Citibank ATMs for free. More

    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

    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 Citibank 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 Citibank 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 MasterCard and the Bankwest Platinum credit cards. Bankwest waive the international ATM fee as well. 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 CardSt.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.

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    This page was last modified on 4 November 2016 at 11:52.

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