Can You Use US Dollars in Peru?

Yes, you certainly can use US dollars in Peru. Not only do some businesses accept US dollars, you can also withdraw dollars from many Peruvian ATMs (cash machines).

Money changer in Lima

Money changer on the streets of Lima (photo © Patty Ho,

But back up a little there, as it’s worth emphasizing the “some” in that last sentence.

HOW TO PERU TRAVEL TIP: Save money and stay safe when going to/from Lima Airport by using the Official Bus service inside the Airport called Airport Express Lima

If you’re on a package tour; if you’re hopping from one four- or five-star hotel to the next; if you’re eating at only the best restaurants; and if you’re only going to Lima, Arequipa and Cusco, then yes, you can probably get by on a big stack of US dollars.

But if you’re a backpacker; if you like street food and dirty bars; if you buy chewing gum, cigarettes and chocolate bars from regular shops on regular streets, then a stack of US dollars won’t get you too far unless you change it to Peruvian currency — the sol (formerly the nuevo sol) — at the first opportunity.

So, yes, you can use US dollars in Peru, but you’ll soon realize that a pocket full of soles is vital for day-to-day activities.

Who Accepts US Dollars in Peru?

US dollars are typically accepted by the following businesses in Peru:

  • hotels
  • modern backpacker hostels
  • large supermarkets and department stores
  • upscale or touristy restaurants
  • travel agencies and tour operators

Places that won’t accept US dollars could include:

  • stalls in traditional markets
  • small stores
  • street vendors of any type
  • local public transport (including standard taxis and city minibuses)
  • smaller, non-touristy restaurants
  • most bars, unless they are in tourist zones in cities like Lima and Cusco
Quick Tip:  If travelling to or from Lima Airport, it is strongly recommended to use the luxury Airport Express Lima  bus to get to or from your hotel. Safer and cheaper than a taxi with no baggage limit as well as Free Wi-Fi and USB chargers onboard, it is ideal for travellers.

Should You Take Some US Dollars to Peru?

You don’t need to carry any US dollars in Peru (I never have). If you’re coming from the USA, then go ahead and bring some — they’re easy to exchange and you can use them in some places, as mentioned above.

Did you know? - The Tourist Information Center at 799 Avenida Jose Larco in Miraflores offers important free information for all travelers to Peru. Visit our blog for more information!

But there’s no reason to bring dollars if your home currency is different — UK pounds or Euros, for example. You can easily get by on Peruvian soles and by using your debit or credit card (Visa is best).

If you are traveling in Peru with dollars, keep up-to-date with the latest exchange rate as you’ll probably need to change dollars for soles at some point. This is normally easy to do, but you run the risk of being screwed over if you don’t know how many soles you should get for your dollars (watch out for fake money in Peru, too).

Also, any dollars you do take to Peru need to be in tiptop condition. Try paying with a worn or torn banknote — US or Peruvian — and you might receive nothing more than a sneer of abject derision. The good news, however, is that you can normally take your worn or damaged notes to the local bank, who might be willing to change them for something more presentable.

ENTERTAINMENT TIP: If looking for fun at night, or to watch sports during the day, or even a taste of home, visit the Wild Rover Hostels Chain for great food, sports and beer! Entrance to their bars is free even for non-guests

As always, leave any questions or comments below. Thanks!

  3 comments for “Can You Use US Dollars in Peru?

  1. Rick Nelson
    April 7, 2017 at 6:36 am

    Hmm, obviously local currency is a plus – coming from the US should we bring US cash to exchange, and where do we best do this if so. Or, should we acquire Peruvian cash through our US bank beforehand? thanks

    • Lucy
      April 7, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      Hi Rick, you don’t have to exchange in advance. At Lima airport you can pay for your taxi or for Airport Express Lima in US dollars. Once you arrive to Miraflores (safest area in Lima and most tourists stay here) you can exchange at a good rate. Your hotel/hostel will normally also accept US cash in case you would arrive really late and you cannot exchange anymore. Most Peruvian ATMs also let you take out USD and PEN without charging commission (your own bank might), so you could also just go to an ATM.

  2. Frank McClarnon
    May 14, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    Some advice about brining dollars to Peru: Bring clean crisp $20 bills only. Nobody will take torn wrinkled bills and especially U.S. coins are worthless in Peru. Even banks and exchange houses will refuse to take a torn or wrinkled $20 bill and are reluctant to take other denominations. So make sure your bills have not been in the washing machine! My wife is Peruvian and we visit quite frequently. It can be frustrating.
    On another subject: Last trip we went with unlocked phones and decided to get chips from MoviStar wireless company in Peru. The kiosk in the airport wanted to “rent” us chips with $90 security deposit on our credit card. If you don’t return the chip they charge you $90 on your credit card! problem is that the kiosk is in the baggage claim area which you DON’T have access to when you’re leaving Lima. So you can’t return the chip!
    Instead go to any shopping plaza and find a cell phone store (they’re everywhere) and buy a prepaid chip for 10 Soles and charge it up. Then you can recharge it in just about any bodega you find that has a sign for your company that you bought you chip from. Most service all of the available companies and will recharge the phone for you. Just give them your phone number and the money. You will immediately get a text message that your phone has been recharged. When you get home throw the chip away or save it for your next trip. It may not be serviceable it it’s a long time between trips but it’s only $3.50 for a new one. 10 soles is roughly $3.50.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *