Peru Currency and Money ChangeThe Peru Currency is called Nuevos Soles, which comes on bills of 10, 20, 50, 100 and (not often) 200. See here the official page of the Central Reserve Bank of Peru to see how the banknotes look: Peruvian banknotes Recently it was announced that new 10 and 20 nuevos soles banknotes will be released, they will circulate together with the ones with the old design. The coins are of 5, 10, 20 cents (céntimos) copper colored or silver colored in the case of 50 cents and 1 sol. Two colored coins with silver color border and copper color inside are the 2 and 5 soles coins. See the coins here: Peruvian coins US dollars can be used especially in places with a lot of tourism or tourist-oriented businesses. The nuevos soles you will need to pay for small businesses as for food, small shops, taxis, bus, and local markets. Try to have some change, as many times for example the taxidrivers do not take much cash with them and they might not be able to give you change; they have to look for somebody to change, and this can take a lot of time.
How to best change your money.The best way is to carry cash, dollars are preferred, but also euros are now accepted better. Other currencies are sometimes not very easy to change. Banks can change your money but are more expensive than money changers on the street, or than the specialized small offices called "casa de cambio". Besides, the waiting time in the bank can be long many times. Money changers on the street, called "cambistas", can be helpfull if no "casa de cambio" is at hand. Try to have somebody with you that knows about changing money and knows the "cambista", especially when changing the first times. It is also good to know the current exchange rate before exchanging your dollars or euros. The "casa de cambio" is always preferable, as the cambistas are not always honest. In the casa de cambio you are ususally inside an office which is saver, and more quiet, also they can put a small stamp on each banknote so you won't have problems with false money. If you would received a fake banknote, you have the proof of where you changed it thanks to the small stamp. A lot of counterfeit money is present in Peru, and therefore in 2010 Peru was named "the Counterfeit Cash Capital of the World". There are many fake 2 and 5 soles coins in circulation. So getting familiar with the banknotes and coins is important. And again; making use of a "casa de cambio" is recommended, especailly if you have not the time to familiarize yourself with the peruvian money. If yo do have the time, please check out the official page of the Central Reserve Bank of Peru (see links above), or here: Detecting fake money in Peru (in Spanish), where you will find indications on how to detect and separate the fake banknotes and coins from the good ones. Important to know before you travel to Peru is that in Peru they make a big deal about money that is not in perfect condition. They do not accept it when a banknote is in bad condition at all, and sometimes even the smallest crack in a dollar bill will be a problem; meaning they won't accept it or they will try to give you a lesser exchange rate. You also should not receive damaged banknotes to avoid these problems, being it the local currency or dollars or euros.
The use of credit cards.An increasing amount of businesses accepts "tarjetas de crédito" (credit cards), but sometimes they might charge you an extra fee, as they normally have to pay extra also to the credit card company. So this is not an intent to rip you of, but it is necessary to assure themselves to get the same price for their services as when charging with cash. This practice is getting less freceunt as the creditcard companies require to charge the same price as when paying with cash. Take care for extra costs the banks at home may charge you when using your creditcard at ATM's. Also take care when they need your creditcard to manually make a receipt; fraud is very easy then. Have a copy of your passport ready, they probably will ask you for that. The most accepted cards in Peru are Visa and MasterCard, and American Express in some businesses also. Most ATM's accept these cards too.
Traveler's checksThese "cheques de viajero" (traveler's checks), can be refunded if lost or stolen, which is their biggest advantage. But the exchange rates for traveler’s checks are quite a bit lower than for dollar or euro cash. Some 10% of the checks’ value you could loose when you exchange them, and you most probably will need a bank for that, so it might be impossible to change in small towns. Many businesses and some casas de cambio refuse to exchange them. American Express checks are the most widely accepted, followed by Visa and Thomas Cook.
Using an ATM machineMore and more ATM machines are available in Peru, especially in the mayor cities, and now also in places as Aquas Calientes near Machu Picchu and small towns like Pisac and Ollantaytambo. But do not count on them; reports are known of these machines being out of service, also electricity falls out sometimes and then they won't work either. A new service called reloadable traveler’s check could be used like ATM cards. They give protection like traveller's checks, and can be more easily replaced than a normal bankcard from your home bank account. You can add more funds to your card online or by making an international collect call, or you can authorize someone else at home to do this for you. No need for emergency wire transfers. For availablity of ATM's for your specific bankcard, consult your bank at home before travelling. Some more details to consider: You can withdraw money in either Peruvian soles or U.S. dollars. Instructions are in English as well as Spanish. Some bank ATM's are only for people that hold accounts there. Most ATM's in Peru accept only one type of credit/debit card. International money network are either Cirrus or PLUS. Visa and MasterCard ATM cards are the most widely accepted; Visa/PLUS is the most common. Remember that many banks impose a fee every time you use a card at another bank's ATM, and that fee can be higher for international transactions (up to $5 or more) than for domestic ones (where they're rarely more than $2). In addition, the bank from which you withdraw cash may charge its own fee. For international withdrawal fees, ask your bank. Many credit and debit cards have a 1% to 3% transaction fee on all charges you incur abroad (whether you're using the local currency or your native currency. Again. conslut yur local bank before leaving.
Wire transfers or emergency transfers.If you are in need of more money because of for example an emergency, or a robbery, you could have money transferred to you by Moneygram, or Western union. Their costs are higher than with wire transfers by bank, but you could dispose immediately of the cash if you have an office of Western Union or Moneygram at hand. See here the availabilty in Peru of both companies: Moneygram in Peru and Western Union in Peru A new, fast and cheap way of sending money is with xoom, see Xoom in Peru Wire transfers take normally at least 4 days, normally a week. You will need an account where the money can be sent to, or ask one of the banks how the transfer can be realized. It is normally a lot cheaper than Western Union or Moneygram but depends on the costs of both the bank in your homecountry and the bank in Peru.
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