The Peruvian sol is the official currency of Peru, and you’ll find it everywhere in the South American country, from Lima to Machu Picchu to the Amazon basin. Peruvian currency has changed a lot over the years, and it’s worth knowing more about the currency before you spend it, exchange it, or send money to Peru.
A Brief history of Peruvian currency
Long before Peru declared its independence from Spain in 1821, the city of Cusco was the seat of the Inca Empire. Instead of physical money, the Inca Empire used an accounting system called quipu to keep track of trades and inventory.
This made it possible for the Inca to trade up and down the coast of South America, in the countries now known as Peru, Chile, and Ecuador.
Between the 16th and 19th centuries, during Spanish colonial rule, the Spanish real was the local currency. After its independence, Peru introduced its own version of the real in 1822 and then replaced it with the sol in 1963.
This isn’t the same sol you’ll find in Peru today. That money went out of circulation in the 1980s, and the country introduced the inti currency instead. But an unstable political climate led to mismanagement, hyperinflation, and a short lifespan for the currency.
Because of this instability, officials issued a new currency and returned to the word sol as a nod to the past. Peru’s new monetary unit became the nuevo sol (or nuevos soles in plural); although today, it is more commonly referred to as the Peruvian sol.
Peruvian nuevo sol banknotes and coins
As of 2022, the Central Reserve Bank of Peru (Banco Central de Reserva del Perú) produces coins in the following denominations:
- 10 centimos
- 20 centimos
- 50 centimos
- 1 sol
- 2 soles
- 5 soles
You can find banknotes in these denominations:
- 10 soles
- 20 soles
- 50 soles
- 100 soles
- 200 soles
But how do you know if a banknote is authentic? Peruvian soles have security features to prevent counterfeiting, including three watermarks, a security stripe, and black strips with raised ink.
The mint also uses techniques like microprinting, optional variable ink, and fluorescent features to ensure authenticity.
5 fascinating facts about the Peruvian sol
1. It pays homage to Peru’s history.
The sol gets its name from Peru’s post-independence currency, also called the sol. The word “sol” comes from the Spanish word for sun, and nuevo sol means “new sun.”
2. Sol banknotes feature Peruvian historical figures.
The 10 soles banknote has an image of José Abelardo Quiñones Gonzales, a Peruvian war pilot regarded as a national hero in Peru.
The 20 soles banknote features Raúl Porras Barrenechea, the former president of the Republic of Peru who was also the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.
And on the 50 soles banknote, you’ll see the image of Abraham Valdelomar, a famous Peruvian journalist, essayist, poet, and dramatist who lived from 1888 to 1919. He is often considered the founder of the avant-garde in Peru.
3. The Peruvian sol saved the nation.
In the late 1980s, massive hyperinflation was hurting Peru’s economy and the Peruvian people. The introduction of the new Peruvian sol helped usher in an era of lower inflation and a more stable exchange rate compared to the U.S. dollar.
4. Some Peruvian sol coins were rarely used.
In some countries, low-value coins such as the penny are no longer produced or circulated. Peru has done the same with 1 and 5 centimos coins, discontinuing the 1 centimos in 2011 and the 5 centimos in 2019.
5. The “sol” image was not minted right away.
Despite its name, the original sol currency did not have a symbol of the sun. The sun icon only came into production much later with the nuevo sol.
A brief history of Peru’s economy
After the global economic downfall of 1929, Peru struggled with hyperinflation, as did many other nations. Because of this instability, the government created the Central Reserve Bank of Peru to help control inflation and restore economic prosperity.
Many years later, President Alberto Fujimori implemented a program in the 1990s to help control the country’s hyperinflation by removing the inti and creating a brand-new currency, based on its previous currency: the Peruvian sol.
The currency replacement was so successful in stabilizing the country’s economy that ever since, the country has experienced normal inflation growth and better economic stability as compared to many other countries in South America.
Understanding Peruvian sol currency exchange rates
Although the Peruvian currency is less volatile than it once was, it’s still important to keep exchange rates in mind when sending money to or from Peru. Exchange rates vary based on a wide range of economic and political factors, from global trade to national elections to interest rates.
If you’re sending money to Peru, you have many options for checking exchange rates against the U.S. dollar (USD), the Canadian dollar (CAD), the euro (EUR), the Australian dollar (AUD), the British pound (GBP), and other currencies. Easily find the current exchange rate by using an online currency converter or by checking with your bank or money transfer app of choice.
If you’re visiting Peru, you may save money by withdrawing cash from an ATM rather than exchanging money at a casa de cambio, also called an exchange house or money changer.
Visa and Mastercard are accepted in major Peruvian cities, too. Check on international transaction fees before using your credit card or debit card abroad.
Sending money to Peru
To send funds to a family member or friend in Peru, look for an online money transfer service like Remitly. It allows for faster transfers and lower fees than traditional wire transfers.
With Remitly, you can send money to major Peruvian banks, such as Interbank, BanBif, and Banco Azteca, or arrange for a cash pickup location.
Since 2011, over 5 million people have used our secure mobile app to send money home with peace of mind.
Simply download it and we’ll show you how to get started.