Archive for the ‘Living In Mexico’ Category

Pesos or Dollars In Mexico?

Friday, November 9th, 2007

When I first started traveling to Mexico, carrying money was an issue. Dollars were accepted in the border areas, but deeper in Mexico you had to have pesos. These days you can spend gringo dollars in the tourist towns throughout the country, but it is best to convert your money to Mexican money. You won’t be perceived as a rookie Mexico traveler (which increases the chance that you might get fleeced) and you don’t have to do mental math calculations when they give you change in pesos (not recommended while slamming margaritas in a cantina). When a six-pack of beer at a market is marked at 39 pesos you pay that amount in the local currency just like a local. If you pay with a $20 US bill, the clerk, if he accepts your $20, will give you change in pesos using a conversion scale to his liking. Most likely you will pay more for the brew that way.

I always save a wad of pesos from a trip so that I have will them available for the next time…usually around $50 – $100. That way, if I am flying in, I have pesos as soon as I land. The airport may have a bank window or a casa de cambio (money exchange), but they aren’t always open when you need them. The large airports (i.e.,Mexico City) now have ATM’s, but many do not. I also carry a couple of $100 US bills in a safe place (not my wallet) for emergencies at odd hours. Years ago everyone used travelers checks, requiring waiting in bank lines in order to cash them, which was a huge hassle. In the last seven years or so ATM’s have become very common all over Mexico, at least in any town large enough to have a bank. An ATM will offer you the best conversion rate and will leave you a legitimate paper trail. A case de cambio is the second best option, but that is for converting your US dollars into pesos, which requires that you carry cash. Why carry cash that you might lose when you can use plastic, getting enough cash every day for that day’s needs? The ATM’s also handle cash advances for Visa and Mastercard.