The official currency of Perú is the Nuevo Sol, more commonly referred to as soles. The U.S. Dollar is a widely accepted second currency, particularly at stores and restaurants frequented by tourists.
Credit and debit cards, or “tarjetas,” are accepted at most larger businesses or restaurants in Perú. Small shops, street vendors and taxis, however, usually do not except anything but cash, or “efectivo.”
Both dollars and Soles are available at all ATMs, but be aware that when using an ATM to withdraw funds from a foreign account, you will most likely be charged fees by both your home bank and the institution that owns the machine here.
Whether traveling to Perú for vacation or more permanent relocation, be sure to alert your financial institutions back home, who, without this knowledge may freeze your accounts on suspicion of fraudulent activity.
Due to the double currency economy and the massive amount of tourist traffic that comes through Lima, there is a booming exchange business with several ways in which to exchange Soles for Dollars as well as Euros, GBP, and Yen. You can do so within a bank, at an open-window storefront “Casa de Cambio,” or with an individual moneychanger, known as a “Cambista.” These professionals usually found standing in front of banks or within common tourist areas, wear colored vests with currency exchange symbols on them and typically offer the best exchange rates. As is true with most small businesses in Perú, there is often a bit of negotiating for a slightly better rate possible with Cambistas.
As a result of over a decade of robust economic growth and an expanding middle-class, increased financial prosperity is evident amongst the development of office towers, luxury high-rise buildings and shopping malls featuring high-end international brands.
Although more Peruvians are experiencing a higher level of economic prosperity than previous generations, the wide disparity between the haves and have-nots is very visual between the shantytowns that line the hills on the outskirts of the city and the prevalence of begging in the streets, very often by children.