The Peruvian currency is the Nuevo Sol (S/.). One Nuevo Sol equals 100 céntimos. There are S/. 200, S/.100, S/. 50, S/. 20, and S/. 10 bills. There are coins for 1, 2 and 5 Nuevos Soles, and 50, 20, 10, and 5 céntimos. The exchange rate fluctuates. For exact and accurate currency exchange rates, or if you want to print out a cheat sheet before your trip begins, visit www.oanda.com. As of October 6, 2011, 1 USD = 2.70 Nuevos Soles, and 1 Nuevo Sol = 0.35 USD. Before leaving Peru, it is a good idea to exchange all Nuevos Soles back to dollars.
The US dollar is the most commonly accepted foreign currency. It is accepted in most shops, supermarkets, restaurants and hotels, but it is convenient to exchange them for soles to make smaller purchases. You can change money inside the bank, or if you are in a hurry and changing only a small amount of dollars, you will find cambistas (official money changers) with calculators in-hand outside of any of the large banks, such as the Banco de Crédito or the Banco Continental. Banks are open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
To avoid high exchange rates and commission charges, only exchange a minimal amount of cash at the airport upon your arrival. Exchange only what you will need until you find an ATM machine or bank. At ATM machines and banks you can withdraw Soles (S/.) or Dollars ($). You will find the best rate extracting soles from an ATM and will only incur an small transaction fee. You also will usually find better exchange rates with official money changers, "cambistas", than with banks.
What is the Nuevo Sol worth compared to the dollar? With the Nuevo Sol in constant flux, please see www.oanda.com for up-to-date exchange rates. While traveling, it may be helpful to carry a portable currency converter (found at travel stores). Sometimes in the form of a keychain, this is a handy gadget (like a calculator) into which you enter the exchange rate (depending on the exchange rate at the time and the country in which you are located) save, and then simply enter the prices and the device converts the amounts into dollars.
Cost of Living
Many students find Cusco to be an inexpensive city to live in, especially in comparison to the US. However, it's always a good idea to pay attention to what you are spending and to look out for different deals throughout the city. The ISA Cusco office also has many resources that can help you to budget and still take advantage of the great things that Cusco has to offer. Staying away from more touristy places will definitely help to save you some money!
When budgeting, keep in mind that it is always better to overestimate than to underestimate. To give you an idea of common approximate expenses and commodities a typical student will incur, please see the brief list below.
Additional Estimated Expenses
The ISA program cost includes items such as tuition and fees, housing, insurance, and more. TO view what is included in your program price, please visit the "What's Included" section of the ISA Cusco program page.
The "Additional Estimated Expenses" sheet in the "Accepted Students" section of the ISA website has the following estimated expenses listed:
It is recommended that students look into purchasing an ISIC card for their studies in Cusco. The ISIC card is an internationally recognized student ID card that gives students thousands of discounts worldwide from travel to cinema, meals and more. While you will likely have a student ID from your host university abroad, it may not grant you discounts that an ISIC card could. You will likely be able to purchase an ISIC card abroad, but it is most convenient to purchase this card BEFORE you arrive, as it may grant you travel discounts, and you won't have to deal with the hassle of international delivery. To find out how to get an ISIC card, visit www.isic.org. Once there, you can find information on discounts in Cusco, and what is needed to obtain an ISIC card.