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I'm traveling to Peru at the end of the year and I recently saw this question: Where to exchange US dollars in Peru?
My question is a bit broader, do I need to change money at all? Can I get by only using credit cards? Would I get more bang for my buck if I brought new dollar bills in cash (like in Argentina or Rwanda)? Is withdrawing at an ATM worth it?

I will be traveling from the Eurozone.

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    In most places, if your card issuer does not charge you through the nose for foreign transactions or foreign exchange, it’s usually the best option to pay with a card and withdraw cash from an ATM. For the latter it’s often better to make few larger withdrawals due to the more and more frequent fees levied by the ATM operator (no idea if that is common or not in Peru).
    – jcaron
    Mar 1 at 22:32
  • I'd agree - using your card and making a few larger withdrawals is usually the best approach. Credit cards are widely accepted in Peru, but you'll want some cash for smaller purchases or places that may charge a fee. A mix of cards and cash is ideal. Maybe bring $100-200 as backup, but focus on your card and hitting the ATM just a couple times should cover you. Smaller, more frequent withdrawals usually cost more in fees. Mar 5 at 1:54

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ATMs are your best bet for getting currency exchanged at a reliable rate. Of course there are fees involved, so making fewer larger transactions is usually advantageous.

It is possible to travel in Peru without using any local currency (Sol or plural Soles) but it is advisable to have some with you. In some places, it is hard to manage completely without but that greatly depends on where you go. I have been to Peru many times during the years and covered the majority of the country. In smaller Andean communities and those in the jungle, there are quite a few places where only cash will do.

Even sticking to the capital and the Andean valley between Cusco and Machu Picchu, there will be vendors of food and crafts that only accept cash. It is optional of course to buy from them but without cash, you could miss some opportunities, not to mention the natives who walk around in traditional dress asking for money in exchange for you taking a photo of them (Whether you consider this ethical or not is another question). There are a number of them that will even take dollars instead of soles but that is cash too.

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  • Thank you for the answer! Could you tell me when where you there, are you Peruvian? In other words, how old is the info in your answer? Also when you mention ATM fees, how much are we talking? Is it more than $2? Does it vary a lot?
    – André
    Mar 3 at 6:25
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    Last time, I personally visited was 3 1/2 years ago, plus I many have friends there. Even though things evolve, changes are quite slow to propagate the further from you go from Lima. ATM fees depend both you bank and the bank from which you take out, about $5-10 per withdraw from a Canadian account. Some banks reimburse some foreign transaction fees but none of the banks I use do, so not sure if that still applies.
    – Itai
    Mar 4 at 4:59
  • I was in Lima in Feb 2024 and I broadly agree with "it's possible but advisable to have some with you", even in Lima. In particular, if you're trying to take public transit, the kiosks at some stations will be cash only. Mar 5 at 8:39
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I have asked someone with recent local knowledge, he spend months traveling through Peru last year.

In Lima you can often pay with your creditcard, outside the city sometimes.
Cash is needed.

Getting cash out of a machine (atm-hole in the wall-flappentapper) is limited to very few banks, cost a big fee and you can only get a relative small amount per day, about €100 worth.

Euros can be exchanged in Lima, US dollars in many places.

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  • When we visited in 2019 we pulled $210 worth of Soles without issue in Cusco. Perhaps using a USA card helped. Mar 6 at 6:23
  • My source mentioned it having changed in the last few years, by all banks. And getting harder to find machines that honor foreign cards at all. His Peru knowledge is about half his time over many years so can compare between 2019 and 2023.
    – Willeke
    Mar 6 at 9:03
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When I visited Peru in 2016, I found that credit cards were accepted almost everywhere, but cash was preferred.

Since my trip was a few years ago, there's a chance that more hotels, tourist agencies, and even small shops or street sellers now accept credit cards or online payments through other carriers.

However, I would still recommend taking a few hundred dollars in cash with you. Try to get smaller bills so you can manage your payments more easily.

Having local currency will also help with tips and small transactions.

Most of the advice in the post you mentioned is correct. I would add that exchanging currency at hotels and airports is less convenient (yet, the most secure environment). They usually offer the worst deals. Again, having small bills will help you change just a few dollars and lose the least when you need to get local currency.

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  • Why not use ATMs? Are there places where having dollars is better than soles?
    – André
    Mar 3 at 6:21
  • This information is from 2016, so things may have changed.
    – Willeke
    Mar 3 at 8:10
  • @André In my experience the bank rates are not that good, and there are charges per transaction as someone else said. Hotels and restaurants had no preference, they would take dollars or soles.
    – onpre
    Mar 6 at 2:33

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