US Dollars and Euros can be changed in Lima without restrictions in hotels, banks, exchange offices or on the street. Some places don't accept US$ 100 bills. The safest way to change money is in banks and your hotel, but this will result in much lower rates compared to exchange offices and the money-changers on the street. If possible try to avoid changing money at the airport exchange office. The rate is one of the lowest we have discovered in Lima and we think that you shouldn't support this rip-off. When there is absolutely no other chance, just swap the absolute minimum. Taxis from the airport can be paid in US Dollars (again make sure to have enough small change for this purpose).
Exchange rates can be slightly lower on the weekends!
Good exchange rates can be achieved with money-changers on the street. But as with all "street deals" in Peru don't forget to bargain. Inform yourself about the current rate, otherwise you might be ripped-off. The exchange rates will not only vary depending on the amount you are willing to change, but as well on your appearance. If the money-changer thinks you haven´t got a clue, he will of course try to give you a much lower rate and make a good deal for himself. When changing money on the street, remember to keep a watchful eye on your surroundings.
Money Changers or Exchange Offices?
The money-changers (called Cambistas) can be found literally everywhere (where tourists are). Those ones officially registered with the municipality wear color coded vests (each district has a different color) with a "$" sign / EURO written on the back and have proper identification documents. Don't let anybody disturb your transaction. Don't get distracted by a little chat with the Cambistas. Always check for counterfeit money. Tourists are popular victims to circulate phony notes. Have a good look at the notes you receive, but check the coins as well. Count the money carefully. Some Cambistas might accidentally (?) give you a S/. 2 instead of a S/. 5 coin. Quickly the good exchange rate can turn to the opposite.
We recommend the exchange of currency in one of the many exchange offices (called Casa de Cambio). You'll get a fair rate, but again compare to find the best deal. Some places give better rates for Dollars than Euros and vice versa. In every good exchange office you can make the transaction at ease and comfort. You have the time and a place to carefully count and examine the money without anybody looking over your shoulder. We think this is worth more than gaining a few centimos more.