Money Tips for Mexico: How to Buy Pesos & Exchange Currency

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Before you travel to Mexico, make sure you have some pesos on you for your trip. Also, have a plan for exchanging dollars into pesos once you arrive. Here are some tips to help you prepare and to guarantee you’re getting the best exchange rate while abroad.

Know the Mexican Peso

Mexico’s national currency comes in colorful bills of 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 pesos. While Mexico uses the same symbol $ for its currency, keep in mind that it’s always pesos. You may get change in coins, which come in values of 1, 2, 5 and 10 pesos. These “centavos” aren’t worth a lot, but they’ll definitely come in handy when you’re out and about. The exchange rate for converting U.S. dollars to Mexican pesos fluctuates daily, so check online for the current rate.

Buy Pesos Before Traveling

It’s recommended that you buy pesos before you land in Mexico, just in case you need the cash. According to this USA Today article, the most economical way to do this is to buy pesos from your bank in the U.S. Most banks will do this for free, especially if you’re not withdrawing a significant amount of money.

Use ATMs

The most convenient way to buy pesos when you’re already in Mexico is by using ATMs. You will often receive the best exchange rate, even though you have to pay a service fee every time you withdraw. If you know you’ll be needing a lot of cash, you can take it out all at once to avoid paying the service fee multiple times. However, you need to be careful about carrying a large amount of cash while you travel. You don’t want to be a target for thieves.  

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Currency exchange at the airport in Mexico

Buying pesos when you land and selling them before you leave Mexico can be easy and very economical when you exchange your currency at the airport. Airport kiosks are convenient and though there may be a small commission fee, it’s not considerable.

Swipe That Credit Card

There are a few options in Mexico for exchanging dollars to pesos. But the best way to pay (if the merchant allows it,) is with a credit card. First, you have to call your bank to let them know you’re traveling abroad and you’ll be using your card. If not, the bank may think it’s been stolen, and they could freeze or cancel your card. Second, you need to make sure there are no international fees when you pay with your credit card. Many credit cards feature no international transaction fees, so check to see if your card offers that. Paying with a credit card will give you the best exchange rate. Most restaurants, hotels and stores accept credit cards in Mexico.

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Other Exchange Options

If you can’t use your credit card and you don’t want to use an ATM to retrieve pesos, you can either go to a currency exchange office or a bank in Mexico. Not all banks in Mexico can exchange dollars to pesos, and some require that you have an account with the bank. You should ask someone at your City Express Hotel about the nearest bank that will allow you to exchange currency.

Money Tips for Mexico: How to Buy Pesos & Exchange Currency