Important Information For You About Carrying Cash In Iquitos Peru

by Captain Bill

Important Information For You About Carrying Cash In Iquitos Peru

This bill has tears, and tape, and can not be spent in Iquitos

This bill has tears, and tape, and can not be spent in Iquitos

Carrying cash should be one part of your plan to get what you want from your Amazon Adventure. You should always have a back up plan, and preferably a back up for a back up plan. So I recommend an ATM card, a credit card and cash. When I say cash, I mean US dollars. Other forms of currency do not work as well here.

Never rely on just a credit card. Things happen. The credit card company might see a charge from South America where there has never been a charge before, and think a thief has taken over your card and to protect you, will cancel your card, even though it was you that made the purchase. That has happened to me, and several other travelers that I know.

ATM cards are great, but have a minimum amount that you can draw per day which may not be enough for some emergency. Other problems that I know from personal experience are they bend, break, expire, and should not be your only option. ATM cards should be part of your overall plan.

Never rely on Travelers Checks. They are good to have for emergency back up, but they are difficult to use in Iquitos. Changing travelers checks into cash in Iquitos involves wasting  time in a bank dealing with extra red tape, for a lower exchange rate.

So that leaves us cash. Here is the important information for you about carrying cash in Iquitos Peru.

Even with cash there are problems to overcome, starting before you leave home. Go inside your bank to a teller and draw out only brand new US Currency. Examine all of the notes carefully, looking for even the tiniest rip, tear, or staple holes. If you find even the smallest flaw, ask the teller to change it to a new crisp perfect bill.

Difficult to spend in Iquitos

Difficult to spend in Iquitos

Next, examine the serial number on each $100 bill. If the serial number begins with CB…, ask the bank teller to please change to any other serial number except CB…There is an urban legend in Iquitos that all $100 bills with a CB serial number are counterfeit, making them difficult to use.

This bill has a CB serial number, bad enough but it also has tears. Can not be spent in Iquitos.

This bill has a CB serial number, bad enough but it also has tears. Can not be spent in Iquitos.

If the bills have been marked, stamped, stained, or written on; change them for new crisp clean unmarked bills. The very stamps that mean some responsible person in the US checked the bill and determined it was not counterfeit and stamped it, makes it look suspicious to the money changers in Iquitos.

So now you have your fresh off the press cash, your ATM card, a couple of credit cards, and maybe a few Travelers Checks just for more back up insurance. Hopefully you will not need to use the Travelers Checks and you will take them back home with you to use next time.

The next step is to make sure to keep everything safe. I have written more extensively about this in the article, More Than Just A Packing List, and I recommend you follow that link to read the entire article, but let me summarize it here.

  • Divide your cash between your wallet, your most secure pockets, a money belt, possibly a waist pack and your carry on luggage.
  • Put some cash in regular sized security tinted envelops and hide them in your waist pack or carry on luggage.
  • Put some cash and an extra credit card in a zip-lock plastic bag for your money belt to protect against perspiration.
  • Carry enough cash to have $300 left over at the end of your trip to get you back home in case of emergency.
  • Change at least $100 ($200 would be better), into Soles at the Lima airport. Make sure to get at least half of that in small sole bills and change. There are three or four money exchange stalls at the Lima airport. Use them and you will be better prepared for any emergency with the proper currency in your pocket when you reach your destination.

The US dollars you are carrying can only be used at a few places, such as large hotels, or to pay for a lodge or cruise, so you will want to keep changing to a steady supply of Soles as needed. There are many money changers along Prospero. I can not recommend using them. Some are more honest than others, but they can be tricky.

Difficult to change in Iquitos

Difficult to change in Iquitos

I recommend changing your dollars into soles at the Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises office. We call the most honest money changer in Iquitos, he will come to our office within 10 minutes, to change a minimum of $100, and the transaction is done off the street, with an honest man and calculator. I trust him completely.

When our office is closed, use the ATMs to draw out Soles. I use the one on Prospero connected to but outside the Banco de Credito, only a few meters from the Plaza de Armas, but there are several other ATM choices connected to, or outside of the many banks.

Map to the ATM at the Banc de Credito, just a few meters from the Plaza de Armas

Map to the ATM at the Banc de Credito, just a few meters from the Plaza de Armas

The safest, best place on the street to change dollars into soles is catty-corner from the post office, or Serpost, but not after 6:00pm or on Sunday.

A quick rule of thumb is $1 equal S/ 3 soles. That is only approximate, and changes up or down daily, so use a calculator and the correct exchange rate to know exactly how many soles you should receive back. Remember to get around half in small Soles notes and change.

I hope this article provides you with valuable information to make your Amazon Adventure safer and more secure. If you think it does, share this with a friend.

Writing will make it difficult to spend

Writing will make it difficult to spend

Important Information For You About Carrying Cash In Iquitos Peru

Bill Grimes, president of Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cédric November 17, 2009 at 5:02 am

Thanks Bill for these good advices!
Any idea why there is a minimum amount that can be drawn per day with the ATM cards? It’s really frustrating!

2 Ratri Money Changer February 17, 2010 at 1:24 am

Nice page…helpfull..keep update

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