Thursday, September 11, 2008

Money Matters in Peru

Updated 15 April 2014

If you need info about paying taxes in Peru, please see Income Tax.

There are ATMs at all banks. Most banks allow you to make a certain number of withdrawals a month without being charged. After that, you will be charged a nominal fee. If you withdraw money using an ATM that is not your bank, you will also be charged a fee. Paypal is good for taking out money made from abroad.

Be wary of using your home debit card in ATMs here in Peru. Some banks have agreements, but not all do. Fees are often very high, so check with your bank before withdrawing money here. ING Direct allows you to withdraw from BCP banks here in Peru, not all banks do. You could also open an ING Direct Account and then withdraw funds from an ATM without paying fees at BCP or Interbank and Global Net. Some other banks may also allow you to withdraw funds with no fees, but please check before doing so. Charles Schwab doesn’t charge ATM fees, and automatically refunds any charges from the bank where you withdraw money. They also have no monthly fees. Bank of America doesn't charge if you use Scotiabank ATMs.

Bank Accounts
Your employer can open a bank account on your behalf. To open a bank by yourself, most banks require either a DNI (National ID Document-this is for Peruvian citizens) or a carne de extranjeria (foreign resident card) plus a copy of your electricity or water bill that shows your address. Interbank and BCP will let you open an account with a tourist visa. Be aware that every time you take out or deposit money, you have to pay the ITF (tax), which is about 0.1%.

Usually there are two types of accounts: Plazo Corriente (Running) and Plazo Fijo (Fixed). A Plazo Corriente account allows you to withdraw money. A Plazo Fijo means that you shouldn’t withdraw your money for a certain amount of time which varies between one month and two years. Plazo Fijo gives you a higher interest rate. You can withdraw money from a Plazo Fijo, just ask your bank or caja if there are any penalties. Be careful of banks, as they usually charge a maintenance fee if you have less than X in your account. In my opinion, it’s much better to open an account at a “Caja”. If you want to compare different accounts in Peru (interest and cost effectiveness) try SBS.

Best Exchange Rates
  • Casinos
  • The corner of Larco and Benavides in Lima
  • Central municipal in Barranco in Lima
  • First two blocks of Huaylas in Lima
  • Larcomar in Lima
  • Moneygram
  • Petrol Stations
No matter where you live, you'll need a budget. Look at Creating a Budget to find out how to manage your finances. People often say that in Peru, you can leave like royalty on little money. Don't forget about saving for retirement. It's never too early to start saving, so the sooner you can start, the better. Try reading this article about saving for retirement. Lastly, you need to learn how to recognise counterfeit money.

That being said, if you wanted to, you could easily spend a fortune in Peru. Posh flats in Miraflores and San Isidro are easily $1000 and up a month. Shopping at name brand stores will set you back. Dining in alta cocina resturants, and constantly going to upscale supermarkets will leave you wondering how people can live on so little. However, if you budget and plan well, you can live on very little money a month. See Lima on $500 a month for tips and tricks.

Earning Extra Income
Exchanging Money
XE has exchange rates as does the Banco Central. The currency used here is the Nuevo Sol.You can exchange money outside of many banks or at “casas de cambio”. If you change it outside of a bank, only use official money changers who wear vests. You’ll get a better rate than at the bank. Just be careful of counterfeit bills and double count your money before handing it over and use your own calculator. Travellers cheques are difficult to exchange here in Peru, so you’re better off simply bring cash to start off with, or withdrawing money from an ATM. If you're interested in stocks, try the Bolsa de Valores Lima.

How to Save Money in Peru
Paypal Paypal is now available in Peru. You can find more information in the Paypal article.

Transferring Money
If you want to transfer money, you could use the Banco de Credito del Peru, Western Union , Money Gram or Jet Peru (has a few offices in certain countries) Other banks or cajas may also transfer money, so please check with your home bank and bank in Peru. Xoom also works through Interbank. Paypal or Pagum (link provided by fanning. Pagum is the Peruvian version of Paypal, but can't be used for business purposes.) is good as well.

Traveller's Cheques
Some banks have high fees for cashing traveller's cheques. Interbank only charge $10, but you have to change the money into soles. Banco Continental also charges $10. Other places with low rates include Moneygram, Scotiabank and Casas de Cambios (money exchange places)



  1. Hola, can you use an American bank check when you open a bank account? Also, when you buy property in Peru can you pay with an American bank check, especially if it is over $400,000?

    1. No, of course you can't. You can only use American checks on American soil, ie, the US, Guam, military bases, etc. To open an account in dollars, you need dollars. Open it with 50 bucks and then do a bank transfer. About property, you can either pay with cash or get a cashier's check from a Peruvian bank.


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