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Best exchange rate ...

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Edmonds, Wa
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Best exchange rate ...

Hello everyone. My husband and I are going on our first trip to Mazatlan in October. Yay! I can't wait! I'm just running in to one small problem. Our flight gets in at around 1:30 p.m. on a SATURDAY! We plan on doing some activities on Sunday and would like/need to use cash. Most banks I believe are closed Sun and aren't open very late on Saturdays. How can I get cash, and where can I get the best exchange rate if the banks are closed?

San Francisco...
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1. Re: Best exchange rate ...

If the banks are closed you will get various stories from various people on how to exchange.

We take travelers cheques (free from our bank) and use the cambios mostly, and they vary as far a exchange but we've always received within $1 of the bank rate per $100 and had NO wait in line. There is also an American Express office (or was) in the golden zone for cashing those as well. You can also use your hotel, although they are probably the least favorable rate. The cambio hours vary and are maybe closed on Sundays. All you need to cash travelers cheques is a valid driver's license or ID card. To use the banks you may be required to show your passport.

Some people swear by the ATM machines; however, I know of people whose card was not returned from the machines on more than a few occasions, leading them to not only get no money but having to go to the affiliated bank during normal business hours, waiting in line and spending a good portion of a day trying to retrieve their cards. If you do choose to rely on ATMs, take at least one backup card with you in case this happens. It may not happen to you, but do you want to risk your vacation that it won't?

The cambios have never "eaten" my travelers cheques. You can of course use cash also, but that is the least safe method of traveling, in my opinion.

Ontario
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2. Re: Best exchange rate ...

I think this is like the issue of safety in Mazatlan. It all depends on the eye of the beholder....

We have used ATM's exclusively for four years in Mazatlan without a problem, and we haven't heard of any of our friends having a problem either.

We use the machines to take out large sums, as we get a discount (or did) by using cash to pay our hotel!

I do try to use a machine outside a bank that is open, just in case the card gets eaten, because sure, cash is a necessary grease for a good vacation.

Having a second card, and making sure my wife has cards as well is enough insurance for us.

Many will tell you that there is a daily limit on the machine of 5000 pesos, but I managed to get 9000 out last year in one go!?

For us, ATM's are by far the most convenient way to go, and will usually give you the best current exchange rate. Even better if you can find a bank that will waive the service charges on the transaction - for us that would be Scotiabank. Use your normal safety precautions.

I thought travellers checks went out with the last century, and we wouldn't use American Express even as a last resort, so there you are!

San Francisco...
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3. Re: Best exchange rate ...

neils,

We've used travelers cheques for over 25 years and have never had a problem anywhere in the world, especially Mexico, using them. They are also guarantied, even if you rip them up yourself. They cost nothing to get. Maybe Canada is different, since I see that's your nationality. I know that most banks (even mine) waives ATM charges, but most banks do. I know of no restrictions in amount you can cash with travelers cheques also.

I did not suggest people NOT use ATMs but rather gave my caveates of the people I do know who have had problems with them. Also on top of people's cards not being returned from machines, in Acapulco and Mexico City there were people setting up fake ATM scanners and also people in some restaurants cloning these cards and causing all sorts of grief. I have heard this has also happened in PV and other areas.

I guess we will continue to use what you consider "the old way" because it still works without a hitch for us.

Mazatlan
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for Mazatlan
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4. Re: Best exchange rate ...

I always recommend the ATM machines. I use them exclusively in Mazatlan and I have never had a problem nor have any of my personal friends. I always carry two of them to Mazatlan, and when I can, I go to a bank that is open. If not, or in your case, on Saturday I suggest you have the cab driver stop at Soriana's on Rafael Buelna. Go in and wave your ATM card at the guard and say ATM. He will show you to an ATM that is very close, and is a "swipe" machine. No danger to losing your card. (Of course if you speak Spanish, you can ask the guard for directions :-)

I have found that ATMs provide the best exchange rate. Lat year someone told me that ATMs provide a better rate then inside the same bank. I tested it at Bancomer and I did get a better rate on my ATM then I did on both an old travelers check and $50 US cash. Go figure!

Mazatlan, Mexico
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2,253 posts
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5. Re: Best exchange rate ...

neils....if you use Banamex you can pull 10k pesos in one transaction, but that is not necessarily your daily limit with them. Scotiabank have a limit of 3k per transaction at all of their machines. Sometimes your transaction limit depends where the machine is that you are using and a lot of the solo machines are set at 5k per transaction. And by the way, Scotiabanks exchange rate is the absolute worst. Two weeks ago, they were paying 9.68 for Canadian, the cambios were at 9.90 and the other banks were 10.38. Obviously they had their 'wires crossed' but it happens quite regularly with them it seems.

San Miguel de...
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6. Re: Best exchange rate ...

The MXN peso has really begun to appreciate V. the weak USD in the last few months.

This AM's interbank rate was 10.386.

I got 10.3666 on 4/28 and 10.34364 on 5/23 at the ATM.

It was 11.354 2 years ago.

Lowest now in our 5 years here.

Always think no fee ATMs for cash and No/low fee CCs are the only way to travel.

You'll get a bit less favorable rates at cambios and even worse at MXN banks.

M

Ontario
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7. Re: Best exchange rate ...

crazy golfer.

It may have been a Banamex that gave me the 9000 pesos. Interesting info on Scotiabank - we've not really noticed the exchange rate issue with them, but you have to be "diligent" to check!

Nothing wrong with using travellers checks if that is your comfort level. Ours is ATM's where no I.D. is required, that's all....

Mazatlán, Sin...
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8. Re: Best exchange rate ...

mikemo, Why, oh why do you continue to post on things in Mazatlán that you obviously know nothing about?

You say, "You'll get a bit less favorable rates at cambios and even worse at MXN banks."

Well, that is just NOT TRUE. I have lived in Mazatlán for nearly 11 years now and the banks are NEVER a lower rate than the casas de cambio. Not for exchanging gringo cash or gringo travelers' checks. That said, the ATMs give by far the best exchange rate, even if you have to use one where you pay a fee to your bank.

Edmonds, Wa
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9. Re: Best exchange rate ...

Thanks everyone so much! Looks like ATM's are going to be most convenient if the banks are closed. Mazexp – do you know if the ATM at Soriana’s has a fee and if so what it is?

Mazatlan, Mexico
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2,253 posts
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10. Re: Best exchange rate ...

PArt of the charges will be those imposed by your own bank. Unless you deal with a bank that is an affiliate of the machine you are using, there will be a fee. And if you deal with an affiliate, contact your own bank to see if they will waive their portion of the fees. BTW...the ATM fees are minimal...the charges by your own bank are ususally much higher, but still worth using the ATMs..in my opinion. REmember that the numbers that you see on the machine are in pesos...not US or Canadian funds. Although there IS an ATM by the Pemex at the north end, near the Oceano, that allows you to withdraw in currencies other than pesos...rare though.