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How to Exchange Money in Mexico (Getting Pesos)

When it comes to traveling to Mexico with family or as an expat, you can’t keep dollars in your bag to pay for expenses during your trip. You have to exchange your USD for Mexican pesos to eat, shop, or travel. You might be pounding the best way to get your hands on some pesos, the local currency, whether to exchange currency before the trip or just carry cash.

You might also wonder about managing hefty exchange fees or if your debit and credit cards will work once you’re there. Today, we’re going to be talking about exchanging money in Mexico. I have dollars. I brought dollars to Mexico because I believe that in Mexico, it will be easy to change dollars into pesos. After all, it’s highly accepted.

When I went to Costa Rica, I was able to use dollars everywhere. In Nicaragua, they prefer dollars to cordobas. So, I figured the same thing would be in Mexico. Below, I’ll explain everything you need to know regarding exchanging money in Mexico and the best way to do it without getting hit with high fees or unfavorable exchange rates.

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About The Mexican Peso

The Mexican Peso, known by its symbol $, stands as the national currency of Mexico. Every day, its value sees a dynamic shift in the international market.

At the moment of crafting this piece, 1 USD converts to approximately 17 Pesos. Remember, these rates aren’t static, so it’s crucial to keep abreast of the daily fluctuations.

a person holding a pesos in mexico after exchange
While USD is widely accepted in Mexico, is always a good practice to exchange your money for the local currency, that way you can avoid weird commissions, fees, and higher prices.

How To Get Peso In Mexico

In Mexico, the most cost-effective method to acquire pesos is through the use of your debit card at an ATM. There are innumerable ATMs, particularly clustered around the exits of international airports.

But I do not suggest you use any random ATM, instead, use reputable national banks ATM to minimize exchange tax.

Reputable National Banks

The ATMs that offer the lowest fees and best exchange rates are those associated with reputable national banks. These include BBVA Bancomer, Santander, Scotiabank (which has ties with Bank of America), Intercam, Banorte, Inbursa, CIBanco, and Banco del Bajío, amongst others.

Utilizing these ATMs allows you to access your money without getting hit by excessive fees or unfair exchange rates, so you can enjoy your journey without any monetary hurdles.

woman using an atm in mexico
ATMs are usually my way to go when exchanging money in different countries, rates, and fees are lower, and is a lot easier to do it.

Credit Cards & Debit Cards

You can use a credit card for your bill transaction in Mexico, and in fact, it’s accepted widely across restaurants, hotels, and retail outlets. They offer the opportunity to secure the most favorable exchange rates, often better than what you’d get with cash.

Plus, every swipe earns you reward points. However, it’s essential to check whether your bank charges foreign transaction fees, which can quickly stack up. So, before you jet off, a quick call to your bank can ensure you are equipped with a travel-friendly credit card.  Besides, I recommend you carry a bit of cash as well.

In my case, when I travel to Mexico, we have our credit cards and debit cards. The funny thing is, I’ve never needed to use my debit card when traveling to take money out of the ATM. So this time, I’m like, all right, let’s do it. I found a bank. I got the money out. No problem.

They give up to, I think, 9000 pesos, which is almost $450 maximum that you could take out per day. So I took out the machine. The bank itself told me a certain fee that would be charged. I have no problem with that. It still is a pretty good exchange rate.

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Places to Exchange Money

The most suitable places are undeniably, national banks, ATMs, money exchange services, and local banks. Here I want to give you a pro tip, if you have some peso in your pocket, then it’s okay to leave the airport upon arrival.

Do not exchange your dollar in pesos at the airport, because you’ll get a pretty low exchange rate as compared to bank, ATM, and open market exchange rates.

We did find a place where they exchange money without passports or anything. I have $20 bills. The $20 bills are hated even more than the rest.

The exchange rate, which is overall right now, as of today, is about 19 pesos. $87. They exchange 18 pesos if you have $50 or $100 bills, but it’s 17.8 if you have $ 20 for the pesos. So we did just another $100.

a person using a credit card
Make sure to check out bank affiliations in the country you’re traveling to with your bank, you may find even lower fees, discounts, and better rates.

Fees

I was kind of curious when I got back to check my bank to see how it went on the first day; it just showed me a great exchange rate. It was almost 19 pesos, 80 centavos, no problem. But here’s the thing. The next day, I guess it takes 24 hours, one business day, for the fees to come out.

Those fees got me to the point where I am racing to see how to open up another bank account where I could do this. The bank in Mexico charged me $5 if I used a bank, which I didn’t know about.

This is after I found out, after calling my bank, if I use the bank that is affiliated with my bank in the United States.

Every bank all over the world has some affiliation, so you can find out regardless of what country you are in. They do credit me back that fee.

However, my bank charges me a 3% international fee for whatever I take out. I had almost $20 in fees.

Here’s the thing, guys. My husband is now using his Guatemalan debit card. Much better. So far, we’ve had no fees, but we are testing it out.

Issues Exchanging Money in Mexico

How wrong were we? First, there’s nowhere to exchange money at all. Like, we figured over the Mexican border while crossing. No, nobody is doing it at all. They are completely uninterested in buying your dollars.

As in, at one point, it was the place to do it. So they’re like, okay, go to the banks. We get to San Cristobal, we go to, like, six different banks. Nobody wants dollars. Not a single bank wants your dollars. No one changes dollars to pesos. So we are screwed because we only have dollars.

mexican currency pesos coins and bills
Getting pesos in Mexico is fairly easy, you’ll need to pay fees and deal with different rates but it’s worth it.

Here is my huge recommendation

It doesn’t matter which country you live in because every country today has a debit card that you can use internationally. Find out what the fees are and what banks are associated and affiliated with your bank, so you will get credit for using that ATM in that country.

And most importantly of all, find out if you have international fees. There are quite a lot that don’t have any international fees at all. So you don’t get charged, and they credit you back your ATM fees.

All of this is easy to find out. I didn’t even bother asking because I’m shocked that any bank even charges international fees anymore. But I don’t use my credit cards for ATM withdrawals. So this is your huge homework. Before you go traveling, talk to your bank about your debit card

Disclosure: This blog post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission for any purchases made through the links. Your trust is important to us, and we ensure that all products or services we recommend meet or exceed our editorial standards.

Last Updated on December 13, 2023

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