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Planning a trip south of the border? Preparing your travel money options beforehand is the key to a stress-free vacation. Credit cards, debit cards, prepaid travel cards and cash are all accepted in Mexico.
Outside of a few purchases like transportation fare or local shops, a credit card will be your best bet for everyday purchases. A card that waives foreign transaction fees like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card can help you save on extraneous fees. Here are all of your spending options during your travel.
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Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
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The local currency in Mexico is the Mexican peso and there are a few ways you spend it. 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. And remember to have some cash too, as it can always come in handy if want to shop at a street market or if a business doesn’t accept credit cards.
ATM’s are widely available in Mexico and are compatible with debit cards, credit cards and prepaid travel cards.
There’s no single best travel money strategy, as the right one will ultimately depend on how and 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.
Whether you’re splurging on tacos, margaritas or are sticking strictly to business, here’s how you can pay for things in Mexico:
Use your credit card almost everywhere, but they aren’t accepted for buses, most taxis, tour guides, corner stores and taquerías. To beat foreign transaction fees, use a card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card .
Travel cards also often come with a variety of travel perks and the ability to earn rewards. If you pick the right travel card for your travel needs, you can rack up some miles toward your next trip.
Note that chip cards are the standard in Mexico. You can still use a magstripe card at many locations, but you may run into merchants who will only accept chip cards. As such, you may want to upgrade your card before you travel.
|Merchant acceptance||ATM acceptance|
Consider cards that have no foreign transaction and ATM fees when looking at cards. Some debit cards, like the one offered by Betterment Checking , are designed to be used overseas, so they don’t charge foreign transaction fees on foreign transactions.
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.
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.
There are a number of places to exchange cash 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.
Your other option is to 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.
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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.
Dating back to Spanish colonization, 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.
You should have no problem finding an ATM for withdrawing cash in Mexico. You’ll find the lowest fees at established national banks like BBVA Bancomer and Santander. And a travel-friendly debit card from a bank like Betterment Checking can help you avoid international ATM charges.
Depending on how much you’ll be traveling around Mexico — and your appetite for expensive cuisine — you could need anywhere from $20 to $150 a day in Mexico — not including accommodations. While it tends to be cheaper than the US, you should still plan on spending about $10 for every meal (at least) and more for activities and transportation.
Here’s a cheat sheet to help while you budget your trip:
|Mexico City||Budget (Cheap)||Midrange||Luxury (High-end)|
|Meals||Lunch in economical restaurant|
|Dinner with drinks|
|Uxmal Entrance for two|
|Personalized day tour|
|Accommodation||Hostel dorm bed|
|Luxurious hotel double room|
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