Last Updated on July 30, 2022 by Rose Morah
You are traveling to Mexico but you’re not sure how to carry money.
Or you are simply wondering where you will get the best exchange rates.
This article provides the best money tips for traveling to Mexico.
Best money tips for traveling to Mexico
1. You don’t need to carry lots of cash with you
It is definitely not safe to keep weeks-long cash with you while traveling to Mexico or any other destination.
I would recommend that you carry a debit card that you can use to withdraw the number of pesos you will need for your daily expenses at the ATM while in Mexico.
Reasons to withdraw Pesos at ATM machines in Mexico
- ATMs offer better exchange rates
When traveling to Mexico, I discovered that the best way to get Pesos at better exchange rates, which are closer to the official daily exchange rates, is by using my debit card to withdraw at the ATM.
When withdrawing at the ATM machine, the machine will ask whether you will like to use their exchange rate. You need to decline the request.
This is because I noticed that most of the time when I accepted, I got bad exchange rates which were like 5% below the actual daily rates.
- Some ATM machines are part of a major bank
Hence, when dispensing pesos from most of them, any fee will be clearly stated.
NOTE: Don’t withdraw at any random ATMs.
Some of the random ATMs found at supermarkets and other places have skimmers that may try to steal your card information.
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2. Use accounts with no foreign transaction fees
The best accounts for travelers going to Mexico or any other destination are those that don’t have foreign transaction fees and those that reimburse your ATM charges.
Most travelers who have been to Mexico recommend Scotiabank because it has no ATM fees.
Check out a more detailed article about the best debit and credit cards for international travel.
When using your cards (debit or credit ) to make payments like at restaurants, do not give them your card, instead, ask them for their payment terminal.
3. Contact your local bank
There are two main reasons why you need to contact your local bank before traveling to Mexico.
- Some local banks offer better exchange rates for members with certain accounts
You can either contact or visit your bank to confirm before traveling to Mexico.
I would also recommend using resources such as Wise, to help you figure out if the rates are favorable. This is because some home banks will offer you terrible exchange rates when buying Pesos at home.
- To notify your bank of your travel plans
Notifying your bank before traveling to Mexico can save you from getting stranded in a foreign country because of a frozen bank account.
This is the reason why any debit and credit card that you plan to use in Mexico should have a “travel notice” in the account.
However, if you don’t find it, I highly recommend calling the bank and letting them know that the cards are going to be used in Mexico or any other country that you plan to travel to.
See also: Read This Before Renting A Car In Mexico.
4. Always carry emergency cash
Even if you plan to use your credit or debit cards to make payments while in Mexico, I highly recommend carrying some cash for emergencies.
Reasons why you should have some cash with you in Mexico
- You will need to pay the street vendors and for things bought at the local markets in cash.
- Most public transportation in Mexico is paid in cash.
- You will need to have cash for tipping.
NOTE: Since ATMs tend to disperse bigger bank notes, I recommend breaking the bigger bank notes into smaller bills.
This is because some street vendors and smaller stores will refuse the larger bills mostly because of the hassles of finding you the change.
You can use the bigger banknotes at high-end places such as museums, sit-down restaurants, and so on with no issues.
Download a mobile app that converts US dollars to Pesos. This will help you make quick calculations, so you do not end up spending more money than what you had budgeted for.
5. Tipping in Mexico
You might be wondering, will I tip in dollars or pesos?
Most Mexicans appreciate being tipped in pesos and not in dollars.
This is because the peso is the main currency and it is what they use to pay most of their bills.
It is also easier for them because they don’t have to go through the hassle of exchanging a currency with their local currency.
- The best way to get pesos with a better exchange rate in Mexico is by withdrawing at an ATM machine.
- The best bank for foreign transactions in Mexico is Scotiabank.
- The best currency to use in Mexico is the Mexican Peso. The Mexican Peso is the best currency to use in Mexico for emergencies, tipping, and transportation.
- Is it better to exchange money in the US or Mexico?
It depends. If your home bank offers a better rate, exchanging in the US will be better. However, if it doesn’t, the other option will be to exchange the money in Mexico. But avoid airport kiosks.