Mexico is a country with many great places to visit and things to experience. With that in mind, you’ll need to take care of your money before traveling there.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the most convenient ways and places to exchange money in Mexico to get the best conversion fee.
Other than that, safety is important when traveling and we’ll walk you through important tips that you have to know. From withdrawing and exchanging money in your country to all the tricks in Mexico, this is your full guide.
Mexico’s Currency – The Mexican Peso
The first step to familiarize yourself with Mexico is the country’s currency – the Mexican Peso. When visiting Mexico for the first time, you may not know what a dollar sign means, so it can be confusing when you see prices quoted as with $. These actually mean Mexican pesos, although they use the dollar sign.
Exchange Rate – USD to MXN
First things first, the exchange rate of MXN, the Mexican peso, to the US dollar has varied numerous times in recent years. And it comes with no surprise that it’s expected to continue fluctuating.
There are several ways to find out the updated currency exchange rate to have a better idea when traveling.
The most convenient way is to use official and authoritative sources such as XE, typing your search on Google, or using the Yahoo Currency Converter. For instance, you can type “100 USD to MXN” to get the most updated and reliable exchange fee.
Exchange Currency Before Getting to Mexico
One of the best ways to be prepared for your trip down south is by getting some Mexican pesos before you go. While you may not know where to secure the very best exchange rate, this can save a lot of hassle when landing in the country.
On a side note, and since you’re required to pay a tourism tax when entering Quintana Roo, we advise you to get it done ahead of time. It’s a simple process and doing it in English on Visitax will also help you pay in USD rather than MXN.
Is it Better to Exchange Money in the US or in Mexico?
While it is much more convenient to exchange your dollars when in Mexico, we highly encourage you to do it back in the States.
You will get, in general, a better exchange rate when you’re in Mexico. However, especially when withdrawing a smaller amount at your own bank in the US, you will also get a great exchange rate.
All in all, exchange a small amount of cash in the States for convenience when arriving. Once you land, convert your USD into pesos in Mexico directly.
Safety Tips About Money in Mexico
Every traveler should be careful about their money while they’re abroad, no matter where they’re from and where they’re heading to. In Mexico, there are several common scams and ways for your card information to get into the wrong hands.
First and foremost, avoid paying with dollars as stores will most likely give a bad exchange rate. Instead, get some Mexican pesos and pay in local currency.
Secondly, and in order for you to avoid card cloning or skimming, always keep an eye on your wallet and credit card. If you plan to pay by card at restaurants, always ask waiters to bring the terminal to you so that you don’t leave your card to strangers. It goes without saying that it’s essential wherever you are in the world, but most importantly in Mexico.
Last but not least, avoid carrying big amounts of cash on you. If you happen to carry lots of money, simply leave it at your hotel in the safe box when going on tours or at the restaurant.
Best Places to Exchange Money in Mexico
Mexico is a popular destination for travelers but there are important elements to know before landing. These are the best places to exchange money in Mexico.
Exchanging Money at the Airport in Mexico
When traveling to Mexico, the simplest way to exchange your first US dollars is at the airport. Of course, that is in case you didn’t have time to do it back home.
Many airports do have currency exchange offices but not all of them. If you find one upon arrival, quickly check their rates and exchange money with them directly with no hassle.
On the other hand, if there isn’t any office (Casa de Cambio), proceed to the ATM following the tips in our next point here below.
ATM Machines All Around Mexico
Obviously, like anywhere in the world, the most convenient place to exchange money, and more generally withdraw it in Mexico is at the ATM.
Mexicans often use ATMs to withdraw money from their credit or debit cards. This is a great option for traveling because it saves you the trouble of carrying cash and, instead, withdraw money only when it’s convenient to you.
Keep in mind that ATMs are available in most cities and towns throughout Mexico. But, they may not be accessible when staying at rural hotels or remote villages. For this reason, we recommend always keeping enough cash on hand just in case.
How to Avoid ATM Fees in Mexico?
ATMs are very convenient and are all around the country. However, it’s important to consider the 3% fee charged every time you withdraw money.
If you want to avoid the hassle of paying a 3% charge for your foreign transactions, then you should check with your credit card company. In fact, more and more banks waive this fee and it’s an investment for the future. Especially if you travel a lot or you’re planning to stay in Mexico for several weeks.
Some of the best cards to avoid foreign transactions include Barclay Arrival Plus, Chase Sapphire Preferred, and Capital One Venture Rewards Unlimited Card.
Above all, upon withdrawing any money from an ATM, make sure to decline their conversion rate. It is usually a bad exchange rate and you’ll lose lots of money over time.
We previously mentioned the currency rates that are shown on Google or Yahoo. These aren’t, generally speaking, the rate you’ll get since banks and currency exchange offices have their own expenses to cover.
Currency Exchange Offices – Casa de Cambio
Another one of the best places to exchange money in Mexico is the currency conversion office or “Casa de Cambio”. They’re convenient and they’re everywhere, but they will always offer you a worse rate than your bank.
That said, they’re the most comfortable way to get Mexican pesos when there’s no ATM around. If you need to find one, simply type “Currency Exchange Service” or “Casa de Cambio” on your Google Maps application and they’ll show up.
If there is absolutely no other choice and if it must be done quickly with little time remaining until departure from Mexico, then head to one of them.
Pay With Credit Card
Another great way to get charged in local currency is simply to pay with your credit card and you’ll also get the chance to earn credit card points. Many stores and restaurants in Mexico accept credit cards, but it is always a good idea to check first. In fact, some businesses might not allow you to pay with your card or they only take cash.
That said, it’s instrumental to consider 2 points:
- Make sure your bank doesn’t charge a transaction fee. This will eventually waste you some serious money if you use it continuously.
- Carry some cash, just in case the business doesn’t accept credit cards.
All in all, paying with your credit card is just as convenient as it gets. But make sure that you’re not charged a transaction fee before leaving your home country.
Tipping in Mexico
Mexico doesn’t have the tipping culture that is found in the States or Canada, for instance.
It is not necessary to tip in Mexico, however, when eating out on occasion, you may want to leave a tip for your waiter if the service was good. In Mexico, tipping 10% would be the standard amount. If the service is really great, then feel free to tip more than that.
We recommend tipping waiters directly rather than the cashier.
Conclusion – Best Places to Exchange Money in Mexico
These were the best places to exchange money in Mexico as well as paying like locals do. It is a good idea to compare rates at the various locations and with your bank before processing any transaction.
If possible, of course, it will be wise to have some cash on hand because not all Mexican banks accept credit cards from other countries.
While you can still find U.S. dollars in circulation, they are not an accepted form of payment for day-to-day transactions or purchases from stores.
In conclusion, opt for a no transaction fee credit card, carry small amounts of cash, and enjoy your travels through Mexico while saving money.