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Changing USD to Pesos in PDC

Houston, Texas
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Changing USD to Pesos in PDC

Much has been written on this forum about converting US dollars to pesos in PDC. Unfortunately, much of the "information" posted here consists of suppositions, rumors, and second-hand information that has gradually been modified when transmitted from person to person.

My wife is in PDC at the moment, having arrived Saturday morning. Before she left, I asked her to change USD to pesos at a cambio and at a bank, so we could get first-hand information as to rates, required documentation, etc. Her experiences, relayed to me on the phone last night, were almost exactly as we expected them to be.

The cambio DID NOT require her to present her passport. They're not tied to the central computer system as banks are, so they have no way of knowing how much money you have changed before showing up at their window. Banks do, of course, require you to present your passport and they track your currency exchanges to insure that you don't exceed your USD $1,500 per person per month allowance.

Yesterday, the rate at the bank (Scotia Bank on Constituyentes) was 11.4 pesos to the dollar. The rate at the cambios was 11 pesos to the dollar. If you change USD $1,000, you'll get 400 pesos less at a cambio than you will at a bank. That's just a bit over USD $36 at 11 pesos to the dollar. Considering the time and effort required to change currency at a bank, I'll gladly pay the $36 premium to change at cambios.

My wife has an aversion to using her ATM card, so I can't report on the rate/charges when obtaining pesos from an ATM. I'll be joining her in two weeks, and I'll determine and post the ATM rate/charges at that time.

She also hasn't been to Mega yet for the initial grocery shopping trip. Our initial trip to Mega is almost always over USD $100, so that will be a good opportunity for her to confirm if there is indeed a limit on using USD there. I suggested that she take additional pesos, for insurance.

Saskatoon, Canada
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1. Re: Changing USD to Pesos in PDC

Agreed: banks are better rates than cambios. That is pretty much a known rule.

Which is why we only use our ATM cards to get pesos at the bank ATMs when in Mexico- it's easy, you get the best rate, and there are no lineups or a need to take along your passport to get $.

Colo Spgs
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2. Re: Changing USD to Pesos in PDC

Using xe.com, I would get about 11.8 pesos per USD at an ATM. No passport. Seldom a line. No misinformation.

I need to run the numbers but you are paying a $72 USD premium over using an ATM.

Edited: 21 June 2011, 16:13
Houston, Texas
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3. Re: Changing USD to Pesos in PDC

I agree that a bank ATM is the best method to change USD into pesos, but there are some folks who don't care to use ATMs. And, having been in the computer business for more than 40 years, I understand that electronic systems are subject to outages, however seldom those outages may occur. My experience has also taught me that if outages do occur, they will probably happen at the worst possible times.

The cambios are a nice safety valve and a convenient place to obtain pesos if you aren't near a bank ATM. The primary purpose of my post was to correct the information provided in many posts I've seen on this forum, stating that a passport is required to change money at a cambio.

Edited: 21 June 2011, 16:21
Playa del Carmen...
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4. Re: Changing USD to Pesos in PDC

Thx for the info Rod..now start concentrating on how many and what kind of Tequila to start with when you get to Playa !!!

Houston, Texas
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5. Re: Changing USD to Pesos in PDC

That's the problem with being down there, ROMY. So many brands; so little time. :-)

Saskatoon, Canada
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6. Re: Changing USD to Pesos in PDC

According to this link and others I found with a quick Google- it is required by some cambios to show your passport when exchanging money in Mexico.

boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php…

I have heard the same story from people in the Mayan Riviera, too.

Like many other things in Mexico, it IS possible that it is not entirely consistently administered.

Also possible it was just supposed to be done during the time when they had ceilings on the amount of USD you can exhange or spend and since that was relaxed, they are no longer doing it.

Houston, Texas
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7. Re: Changing USD to Pesos in PDC

I can't speak to the other links you found with Google but, in the link you posted, all posters were using banks to exchange dollars for pesos. That having been said, we're on the same page about inconsistencies in Mexico (and everywhere else, for that matter).

FYI, there is still an exchange limit of $1,500 USD per person per month. The banks enforce it because they're tied to the Immigration computer system that contains passport numbers and arrival/departure dates. There isn't any simple method of enforcing that ceiling at the cambios.

When possible, it's better to use ATMs to get pesos. Since no exchange takes place, there is no limit on the amount of pesos you can obtain, not to mention the better conversion rate at ATMs.

New York City, New...
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8. Re: Changing USD to Pesos in PDC

It is very simple to me - use an ATM to get the best rate. Everything else is an unnecessary complication that I cant figure out why people would want to incur on vacation. Simple and elegant is the way I prefer to travel and live!

In the olden days when there was the 1 ATM under Burger King in Playa and the other one by the San Francisco market on Avenida 30, maybe one could be concerned about system outtages, but with mulitiple banks it shouldnt be an issue. I always advise that people carry at least $300 in their home currency as emergency funds so if there is a power outtage for days, you have access to cash and can rely on a cambio or bank.

suitcaseready.com

Edited: 21 June 2011, 20:13
Santa Rosa, CA
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9. Re: Changing USD to Pesos in PDC

Do all the ATMs give the same conversion rate or do you need to shop around?

Colo Spgs
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10. Re: Changing USD to Pesos in PDC

You don't even have to change to pesos in many cases (assumes you have USD).

To summarize:

ATM 11.8 pesos/USD

Bank 11.4 pesos/USD and need a passport

Cambio 11.0 pesos/USD (possible passport requirement or not)

Edited: 21 June 2011, 22:29