How to get Peruvian Soles

Ain’t no travel without money. On our arrival in Peru, we had some money, yet not in the correct currency: some euros (large notes of 100 and 50) cash, and our bank cards (one Maestro, one MasterCard and one Revolut MasterCard). Belgian financial institutions don’t do South American currencies, so we were looking for our first Peruvian Soles. After traveling for almost 3 weeks in Peru, here are our tips on getting your hands on some Peruvian cash (and we don’t mean by robbing a bank, ha).

How to get Peruvian Soles?

  1. Withdraw from an ATM

Normally, your MasterCard package will charge fees for withdrawing money from an ATM, and there possibly could be an extra commission fee within the exchange rate of your home currency to Peruvian soles.
Therefore, a good option is your Maestro debit card (or any type of debit card, don’t forget to unblock South America). Within Peru, ALWAYS, use an ATM of BCP, Banco de Credito del Peru. They are the only bank which won’t charge you any “withdrawal fees” (at least, from our experience). ATMs of other banks will charge you. For example:

A. At Lima airport, we only found a GlobalNet ATM (recognisable with yellow color), and we needed some cash for the taxi. Costs charged: 16 soles (approx. 4.2 EUR / 4.8 USD)

B. In both Lima and Cusco, we checked ATMs of BBVA, Scotiabank, …, they charged between 14 and 16 soles

Lastly, Peruvian ATMs only allow you to withdraw up to 400-600 soles per time, so all these fees could add up!

2. Go to meet the Cambio guys

On our first day in Lima, we already noticed some guys walking around with flashy blue/green/yellow jackets. We never really noticed them, so we thought they were selling tours. On the second day in the Barranco neighbourhood, we again saw plenty of them, using hanging around at the corner of the street, closely to a bank. They slightly shouted “cambio, cambio, cambio”, and it was then we noticed those flashy jackets had EUR, USD, JPY, … signs.

How does it work?

You approach one of the Cambio guys, some of them can speak some English, otherwise use your Spanish (the basics). Offer your amount in home currency, e.g. 100 EUR. He will offer you a quote (shows calculator), and you can agree.
Is this legal? Doesn’t it sound like some sleazy scam?

Actually, it is legal, and it’s not a scam. We used them once, and their offered rate was better than any money exchange office and very close to that day’s exchange rate (which you’ll never be able to get, it was 3.76, he offered 3.74). He was even so kind enough to explain how the system works (it’s legal, he showed his job certificate) and how to notice the difference between real and fake Peruvian Soles (the easiest way is the number: this should change color, greenish to purplish, if you change the angle and by checking the watermark). So, don’t be scared about the cambio guys!

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3. Go to a money exchange office

Well, choose this only if your really in need of cash. The more sleazy looking ones offer crazily bad bid and offer rates (so you’ll lose a lot of your budget), and the normal looking ones still can’t beat options 1 and 2.

 

That’s it folks! Good luck in finding your pot of Soles, and always keep your money save!

Did you go to Peru? How did you get your Peruvian Soles? or how do you usually exchange for foreign currency?

If you want to read more about our adventures in Peru:

Start of the adventure – Downtown Lima 

If you want to know more about how to detect fake Peruvian currency:

How to avoid fake currency