Banking In The Sacred Valley

To open a bank account, you’ll first need to have some kind of Peruvian identity card, such as the carnet de extranjeria or a Peruvian passport, and proof of address, such as a current bill or rental contract. Just bring these into the bank and say you’d like to open a current account. If you continue to use your debit card to take money out of cash points with a foreign debit card, you’re likely going to be charged 20 soles for the privilege.

BCP does allow for one ‘free’ withdrawl of up to 700 soles each month, whilst most other banks will only allow you to take out 400 or 450 soles at a time – with a 20 sole charge with each go.

To make or receive cash transfers is generally very costly, and without a Peruvian bank account, you’ll have to use Western Union, which has several offices in Cusco.

Which Bank?

There are several banks to choose to bank with, but the most preferred are BCP, Interbank and Banco de la Nacion, though the latter is always packed with long queues of people, as this is often the only way to pay bills or to cover chits for official services such as driver licence fees, passport fees, etc.

All banks allow for online banking, but you’re planning to link your account to a Paypal account, Interbank is the only one that allows for this, at the time of writing, but the downside is that Interbank has fewer regional offices than BCP or Banco de la Nacion.

Canadians planning to move to the Sacred Valley will be pleased to know that Scotia Bank has a wide presence here, so if you have an account with them, you can save loads on transaction fees.

A Special – But Interesting – Case

At the tender age of only 7, José Adolfo Quisocala Condori rom Arequipa, started a bank for kids.

The Banco del Estudiante Bartselana is a cooperative bank that both helps students save money and recycle. What started with 20 student clients has become a full-on startup with 2,000 members. “In the beginning, professors thought I was crazy or that a kid couldn’t start this type of project,” Quiscala told Peruvian newspaper Correo. “They didn’t understand that we are not the future of the country, we are its present.”

The bank works by a simple process of exchange. Students bring their plastic waste, which is then sold to a recycling company. The proceeds are then deposited into the students’ accounts. The students can only take out the money when they reach their individual savings goal, and only the clients have access to their own accounts.

It’s an idea that’s really grown: at the time of writing, José is meeting with executives from Banco de la Nación to flesh out a project that would bring the Banco del Estudiante Bartselana to the entire country. We hope it comes to the Valley soon!