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Money question - Mexico experts advice only please

Glasgow
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Money question - Mexico experts advice only please

Hi all,

Firstly the reason Im asking for seasoned Mexico visitors/locals to answer is because ive asked numerous people who have visited a couple of times and the answers are all different.

Basically I am going for two weeks and I want to know a few things.

1: I am changing my money from Pounds into currency to travel over. Which currency is best for value/acceptance in the country out of US Dollars of Mexican Pesos? Ive heard so many variations but I was looking for as definitive an answer as is possible?

2: I am going for 2 weeks, I planned on changing £3.5k of pounds, this works out around 70000 pesos or 4.2k dollars, is this enough for someone who is looking to do a lot of day trips, do some shopping, eat out and get a few taxis? My hotel etc is all paid for and its all inclusive but I will probably go out a lot during the day and for meals at night.

3. When leaving, can the departure tax be paid in Pesos?

4: Is there anything else I should watch out for when exchanging? If i get pesos will I get a lower rate when exchanging any unused money back into Pounds? Are dollars easier?

Thanks for reading and I look forward to the replies, cheers guys.

Southern California
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1. Re: Money question - Mexico experts advice only please

Not sure if I'm an expert but go every year since 1999 with one exception. Yes, you want to take pesos. Right now the rate of exchange is 13 pesos per USD1 (I think the GBP is about 22 pesos to 1 pound). However many places will give you a much lower exchange rate. Taxis for example will give you 10-1 as will some shops so you are losing 20-30% by paying in dollars. Also be advised that entrance to the ruins is only payable in pesos. I am pretty sure that the departure tax for UK citizens flying charters can be paid in GBP or pesos. Llisa wrote a thread on this, not sure if it is in Top Questions or not.

I think you have enough money but if you run out, you can always get more from an ATM, just be sure and use a bank-owned ATM and not a private one, and be sure and notify your bank you will be in Mexico and your dates so they do not block use of the card for suspected fraud.

Calgary
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for Akumal, Riviera Maya, Cancun
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2. Re: Money question - Mexico experts advice only please

Pesos are best. US dollars are widely accepted in the tourist areas (although with some notable exceptions, such as the ruin site at Tulum) but your money will go further if you use pesos. Local vendors accepting US dollars are free to set their own exchange rate, there is absolutely no regulation. Some vendors are very reasonable and will use a rate close to that which you'd get at a bank or cambio. However, others (taxi drivers, for instance), use a rate of 10 pesos to the dollar. This makes the math easy but given that the current bank rate is roughly 13 pesos to the dollar, that means you're paying as much as 30% extra for the pleasure of using US dollars.

2. How much spending money is appropriate is VERY hard to give advice on. There's no way I'd burn through anything like the sort of money you're talking about but I've been to the region multiple times and whilst I certainly haven't seen and done anything like all there is to see and do, I've done my share, so my vacations to the Riviera Maya now tend to consist of an awful lot of chilling out on the beach and not doing much of anything, which doesn't cost a whole lot..

I don't know if changing your hotel reservation is even possible but if it is, you may want to consider going NON all inclusive. AIs are lovely but you are paying for food, booze and the amenities of the resort. If you're going to be out and about on excursions and plan on eating a lot of your meals off site, it seems rather contradictory to pay all that money for amenities you won't be around to enjoy and food and booze you won't consume - unless, of course, you got a smoking deal on that AI which renders what I've just said moot.

3. Yes, the departure tax can be paid in pesos - I believe it's 900 pesos. Sterling is also accepted (50 quid) or even Euros. US dollars are sometimes accepted and sometimes not, so even if you choose to completely ignore my advice in #1 above (!), you may want to have a currency other than US on hand for the departure tax.

4. If you have leftover funds that you want to exchange back into sterling, you will lose money - it doesn't matter what the currency is. Just how much you lose will depend upon where you do the transaction. Airport exchange booths the world over are typically offer the worst rates; banks are usually much better.

I find the best way to deal with money is to get a few pesos - enough to last the first couple of days - from a local forex place near where I live. I've found they offer better rates than the banks. After that, I simply withdraw more pesos every few days as and when I need them from bank-affiliated ATMs in Mexico. This has the added advantage that I never end up with a lot of leftover pesos and thus avoid the whole exchanging them back debacle. It's important to note though that some banks charge an extortionate fees for foreign transactions, so this approach isn't for everyone. However, if you think the ATM route wll work for you, here are a couple of tips:

1. stick with bank affiliated ATMs, preferably ones that are firmly embedded in a permanent structure, like the wall of a bank;

2. take normal ATM precautions such as checking the card slot for tampering and shielding your hand when entering your PIN number;

3. never, ever, EVER withdraw US dollars from a Mexican ATM. You will be get with multiple exchange fees and be very sad/angry when you realise how much that withdrawal has cost you;

4. prior to travel, notify your bank of your intentions. Foreign withdrawals can be a red flag to them and you don't want them freezing your account;

5. change your PIN number when you get home. Several cases of ATM fraud have occurred months after the person has returned home. I'm probably over-cautious but I go one step further - my ATM account is completely separate from all my other accounts and only has my holiday cash in it, plus a bit extra just in case. When I get home, I withdraw any remaining balance but leave the account open for next time. By doing this, I figure that if I am a victim of fraud, I'm minimizing the amount of damage the bad guys can do and nothing will impact my day-to-day finances.

6. Have a back up plan to get cash. It's rare but at especially busy times (Easter, Christmas etc.), ATMs have been known to run out of cash and of course, an ATM is of no use in the event of a power failure (which could happen in the case of an emergency, such as a hurricane).

Edited: 16 March 2014, 14:47
Huntingdon, United...
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3. Re: Money question - Mexico experts advice only please

Many thanks for an excellent reply Llisa. Whilst I'm not the op who posted the original question (and I've been to Mexico a few times) your reply is full of useful information.

Vancouver
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for Akumal, Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Puerto Morelos
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4. Re: Money question - Mexico experts advice only please

Great advice from Llisa and 55 as always

Here is a thread of other UK travellers and their experiences / tips

tripadvisor.ca/…49205567

Glasgow
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5. Re: Money question - Mexico experts advice only please

Great and massively helpful feedback from you all, thank you very much, pesos it is!! :) - 55 days to go, first visit to Mexico and riviera Maya, very much looking forward to it!

Queretaro City...
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6. Re: Money question - Mexico experts advice only please

All good advice so far.

How many people is your budget for? 70,000 pesos (5,000 pesos a day) sounds like an enormous amount to me! It's often the case that if you exchange in the UK you will be offered a deal whereby you can return any unused pesos at the same rate as you bought them (so you won't lose anything if you exchange too much).

Glasgow
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7. Re: Money question - Mexico experts advice only please

It's for a party of 2. I know it's an excessive amount but I plan on takin us both on a lot of trips and doing coco bongo VIP etc - some shopping so it probably will work out ok I think. Are there any top restaurants anyone reccomends? It will be our anniversary so I want to splurge a bit

Vancouver
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for Akumal, Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Puerto Morelos
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8. Re: Money question - Mexico experts advice only please

You also have the opportunity to charge via credit card through the hotel / resort

We don't use our credit cards much but usually trust the hotel / resort

Ithaca, New York
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9. Re: Money question - Mexico experts advice only please

Yes, you want to bring Mexican pesos with you, or exchange them at a Mexican bank while here. American dollars are taken widely in Cancun, but you don't get a good conversion rate.

Concerning the amount you want to come with, that is a harder question. Are you staying at an all inclusive, or at a traditional hotel/resort? I would recommend buying your excursion from one of the companies that your resort will have on site, and use a credit card. I personally prefer to travel with as little currency as I can get away with, and buying things on the card helps a lot with that. Also, your conversions seem off to me. Check out www.oanda.com/currency/travel-exchange-rates . 100 pounds is 2198 pesos.

For US travelers, the departure tax is paid with the airline fees.

10. Re: Money question - Mexico experts advice only please

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