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Travel money guide: Mexico

Hola, amigos! Learn which payment methods are safe and convenient in Mexico and compare travel money.

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Planning a trip south of the border? Preparing your travel money options beforehand is the key to a stress-free holiday. Compare prepaid travel cards, debit cards and credit cards to securely and conveniently access your money overseas.

We cover what money you’ll need to use in Mexico, the types of cards to take to save on fees and insider tips on bringing and spending travel money in Mexico.

Our picks for traveling to Mexico

American Express® Gold Card logo

Our pick for travel credit card

American Express® Gold Card

★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.6/5
Wise Multi-currency logo

Our pick for multi-currency debit card

Wise Multi-currency

★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.5/5
SoFi Money logo

Our pick for 0% transaction fee debit card

SoFi Money

★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.6/5

Travel card, debit card or credit card?

The local currency in Mexico is the Mexican peso and there are a few ways you spend it. Here we compare prepaid travel cards, credit cards and debit cards to help you determine which option is best for your trip to Mexico.

ATM’s are widely available in Mexico and are compatible with debit cards, credit cards and prepaid travel cards.

A combination of a travel credit card, travel debit card and a prepaid travel card that allows you to preload the Mexican peso may be your ideal option for your next trip to Mexico. Don’t forget about having cash either, as it can always come in handy if want to shop at a street market or if a business doesn’t accept credit cards.

There is no single best travel money strategy, as the right one will ultimately depend on how an where you’re traveling. If you’re going to be making a lot of cash withdrawals, consider a debit card with an ATM alliance or a prepaid card with low withdrawal fees over a credit card. A credit card will make the most sense for larger purchases and you’ll likely need one for hotels.

You’ll always need cash to make everyday purchases. Withdrawing a substantial amount of cash for when you arrive can be an ideal option to ensure a smooth transition into your destination country. Consider your financial situation, your travel plans and how you’ll be spending your money to determine which combination of travel money options is the right one for you.

These are your options for spending money in Mexico

Using a credit card

You can use your credit card almost everywhere, but they won’t be accepted accepted for buses, most taxis, tour guides, corner stores and taquerías.

To beat foreign transaction fees, use a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card® credit card. As for the ATM fee, that will be the least of your concerns when you calculate the interest you’ll be subject to for a cash advance transaction.

  • Tip: Most major lenders can arrange emergency cash or card replacement quickly if you lose your card.
Pros
  • Protected by PIN & chip
  • Accepted worldwide
  • No currency conversion or transaction fees
  • Perks including reward points, 0% purchases and frequent flyer program
  • Emergency card replacement
Cons
  • Can charge high withdrawal and cash advance fees
  • Higher spending limit (depends on your approved credit limit)

Using a debit card

Like a credit card, using a debit card in Mexico has both benefits and drawbacks. Consider cards that have no foreign transaction and ATM fees when looking at cards. Some debit cards are designed to be used overseas, so they don’t charge foreign transaction fees on foreign transactions.

  • Tip: You can use your card to make a cash withdrawal from an ATM in Mexico, but be aware that you may need a card with a chip.
Pros
  • Protected by PIN & chip
  • Ideal for managing your travel budget
Cons
  • Currency conversion and international ATM fees
  • No emergency cash
  • No backup cards

Using a prepaid travel card

Travel cards are generally a good way to take your funds overseas and spend in multiple currencies. Merchants in major tourist destinations like Tijuana, Cancun and Acapulco will accept US dollar as well as pesos preload onto a card.

  • Tip: If you don’t have a card that can load pesos, you should know that travel card currency conversion fees are among the highest in the market.
Pros
  • Protected by PIN & chip
  • Preload and secure your exchange rate in multiple foreign currencies
  • Accepted worldwide
  • Emergency card replacement and backup cards
  • Ideal for managing your travel budget
Cons
  • Local ATM fee
  • Reloading time
  • No fee if you spend in currency loaded onto the card

Paying with cash in Mexico

You can use USD in Mexico, especially in the major tourist spots. Some merchants give you the option of paying in pesos or dollars and the vendor can give you an “over the counter exchange rate” between the two. The price of the goods can be inflated by as much as 30% if you pay with dollars in Mexico, as vendors generally use an exchange rate of 10 pesos to $1. Use Mexican pesos to make your money go further.

Pros
  • Greater payment flexibility
  • Convenience
Cons
  • Difficult to manage expenses
  • Higher risk of theft

Using traveler’s checks

Unfortunately, as credit card and debit cards have become more secure and offer more protections, traveler’s check have become a dated form of travel money.

Pros
  • Secure and can be easily replaced if lost or stolen
  • Photo ID needed to cash checks
Cons
  • Costly with initial purchase charges
  • Not all merchants accept traveler’s checks

Compare travel credit cards

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
100,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95

Up to $1,250 signup bonus

Earn a massive signup bonus of 100,000 points with this popular travel card. That's worth up to $1,250!
American Express® Gold Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 6 months
4x at restaurants including delivery and Uber Eats; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points), 3x points on directly-booked flights and 1x points on all other purchases
$250

Rose Gold is Back

Earn up to 4x points on select purchases, a bevy of travel perks, and a welcome offer worth up to $600 based on our valuation with this upper-mid tier travel card. Terms apply, see rates & fees
The Platinum Card® from American Express
100,000 points after spending $6,000 in your first 6 months, plus 10x points at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the US on up to $25,000 in combined purchases in the same timeframe
10x points at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the US on up to $25,000 combined in the first 6 months, 5x points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, 5x points on directly-booked flights on up to $500,000 annually, then 1x points after that and on other purchases
$695

New Platinum Exclusive Offer

One of the most valuable premium travel cards, featuring two welcome offers worth up to $7,000 based on Finder's valuation, multiple travel credits and unrivaled lounge access. Terms apply, see rates & fees
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Where can I get money exchanged in Mexico?

There are a number of places you can get cash exchanged in Mexico, including Banco de Mexico (the national bank) and at casa de cambio’s (exchange bureaus). You can visit a bank during business hours between Monday and Friday.

You can also get money changed at bureaux de change and casa de cambio outlets. These exchange offices are common and they can offer the same rate, if not better, than banks.

Live Rate

= Mex$ 19.8817

Refreshing in: 60s | Sat, Jul 31, 01:50AM GMT

Buying Mexican pesos in the US

Mexican Pesos are widely available at most currency exchange offices including Travelex and major banks. Exchanging at your bank can be a good idea to avoid extra fees and charges.

Banknotes

Dating back to Spanish colonisation, Mexican pesos come in denominations of 10c, 20c, 50c, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $200, $500 and $1000. $20 is the lowest value banknote. MXN is the currency code for Mexican peso and Mexico uses the dollar sign ($) as the currency symbol.

Mexican 20-pesosMexican 50-pesosMexican 100-pesos
Mexican 200-pesosMexican 500-pesos

The main banks in Mexico are:

  • BBVA Mexico
  • Banorte
  • Scotiabank Mexico
  • Santander Mexico
  • HSBC Mexico
  • Inbursa
  • Banamex
  • Bancomext
  • Afirme
  • Banco del Bajio

ATMs in Mexico

Cash pickup services in Mexico

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
$1 Within an hour USD 3.99 19.782 MXN 19,703 WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups. Go to site Show details
$10 Within an hour USD 1.99 19.484 MXN 19,445 Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
Go to site Show details
$1 Within an hour USD 8.00 19.434 MXN 19,279 MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide. Go to site Show details
$1 3 - 5 days USD 20.00 19.385 MXN 18,997 Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world. Go to site Show details

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Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

How much should I budget to travel in Mexico?

Mexico is a huge country with a rich history and culture. Depending on how much you’ll be moving around the country will determine how much money you’ll need to bring. Budget travelers can plan on spending less than $20 a day! While midrange to luxury vacations can run from $50 to $150. All prices are in US dollars.

Mexico CityBudget (Cheap)MidrangeLuxury (High-end)
MealsLunch in economical restaurant
$4–$5
Dinner with drinks
$12–$20
Fine dinner
$20–$40
ActivitiesMuseum admission
$1–$4
Uxmal Entrance for two
$64
Personalized day tour
$100–$150
AccomodationHostel dorm bed
$10
Double room
$35–$70
Luxurious hotel double room
$70–$300

Prices are approximate and are subject to change.

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Frequently asked questions

Our latest travel deals to Mexico

Deal

Exclusive rates of $499/pp including airfare for a 3-night stay at Dreams Puerto Aventuras Resort & Spa in Riviera Maya, Mexico

Expires 31 Jul 2021
T&Cs apply
Deal

Flights to Mexico from under $150 round trip

Code

$20 discount on (1) international flight departing from the US or Canada

Arriving anywhere EXCEPT the United States, Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean. New users only.

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2 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    ValerieSeptember 1, 2018

    With the rate changing daily , how do I create a quick cheat sheet to use during my one week stay?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      AnndySeptember 2, 2018Staff

      Hi Valerie,

      Thanks for your question.

      I would agree that exchange rates are so volatile, making it hard to predict future changes. If you are preparing a cheat sheet or budget for your future visit to Mexico, there are various ways on how you can lock in rates so you can effectively manage your finances.

      One option is by opening a prepaid travel card that allows you to load Mexican pesos before your trip. The exchange rate will be locked in at the time you load currency into your card. You may also consider exchanging your USD for Mexican pesos at most major banks and currency exchange offices prior to your travel. This way, you can pay like the locals do without worrying about fees and charges.

      Our guide above also discusses other travel money options for Mexico. It would be good to review the pros and cons of each option so you’ll know which one is suitable for your situation.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

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