Money Tips for Mexico

How to Buy Pesos & Exchange Currency

Before you travel to Mexico, make sure you have some pesos on you for your trip. Also, have a plan for exchanging dollars into pesos once you arrive. Here are some tips to help you prepare and to guarantee you’re getting the best exchange rate while abroad.

Know the Mexican Peso

Mexico’s national currency comes in colorful bills of 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 pesos. While Mexico uses the same symbol $ for its currency, keep in mind that it’s always pesos. You may get change in coins, which come in values of 1, 2, 5, and 10 pesos. These “centavos” aren’t worth a lot, but they’ll definitely come in handy when you’re out and about. The exchange rate for converting U.S. dollars to Mexican pesos fluctuates daily, so check online for the current rate.

Buy Pesos Before Traveling

It’s recommended that you buy pesos before you land in Mexico, just in case you need the cash. The most economical way to do this is to buy pesos from your bank in the U.S. Most banks will do this for free, especially if you’re not withdrawing a significant amount of money.

Use ATMs

The most convenient way to buy pesos when you’re already in Mexico is by using ATMs. You will often receive the best exchange rate, even though you have to pay a service fee every time you withdraw. If you know you’ll be needing a lot of cash, you can take it out all at once to avoid paying the service fee multiple times. However, you need to be careful about carrying a large amount of cash while you travel. You don’t want to be a target for thieves.

Currency exchange at the airport in Mexico

Buying pesos when you land and selling them before you leave Mexico can be easy and very economical when you exchange your currency at the airport. Airport kiosks are convenient and though there may be a small commission fee, it’s not considerable.

Swipe That Credit Card

There are a few options in Mexico for exchanging dollars to pesos. But the best way to pay (if the merchant allows it,) is with a credit card. First, you have to call your bank to let them know you’re traveling abroad and you’ll be using your card. If not, the bank may think it’s been stolen, and they could freeze or cancel your card. Second, you need to make sure there are no international fees when you pay with your credit card. Many credit cards feature no international transaction fees, so check to see if your card offers that. Paying with a credit card will give you the best exchange rate. Most restaurants, hotels, and stores accept credit cards in Mexico.

Other Exchange Options

If you can’t use your credit card and you don’t want to use an ATM to retrieve pesos, you can either go to a currency exchange office or a bank in Mexico. Not all banks in Mexico can exchange dollars for pesos, and some require that you have an account with the bank.

Use any random ATM you find as you are out and about locally, you’ll probably end up paying high service fees to pull out cash. The best & lowest fee ATMs to withdraw pesos in Mexico are from well-known national banks such as:

  • BBVA Bancomer
  • Santander
  • Scotiabank (partnered with Bank of America)
  • Intercam
  • Banorte
  • Inbursa
  • CIBanco
  • Banco del Bajío

When using a debit card, the lowest ATM fees in Mexico (between $25-30 pesos) have been at BBVA, Santander, Scotiabank, and Banorte. Also, be aware that your home bank may charge you a foreign transaction fee (often up to $5 USD). Double-check with your local bank to see if they have any partnership with a Mexican bank to avoid these extra fees.

For example, Bank of America has a partnership with Scotiabank, so if you use their ATM you would avoid that ATM usage fee for each cash withdrawal.

Other Money Tips

  • Don’t pay with dollars at stores or restaurants since they’ll probably be giving you a bad exchange rate.
  • To avoid bank card cloning or skimming, never allow your cards out of your sight. If your card has a “chip & pin” method, ask your waiter to bring the payment terminal to your table and cover your hand as you enter your PIN. If the terminal is not portable take your card to the cashier to pay. This is very normal.
  • Just to be safe, don’t carry around large amounts of cash. Leave excess money back at your place.
  • When pulling out cash at an ATM, be mindful of anything that may look suspicious near the vicinity of the cash machine. If anything looks fishy, simply find another ATM. Use common sense, just as you would back home.
  • You may see armed guards standing outside banks or at ATMs when they are being refilled. Don’t be alarmed, as this is quite normal as well.


What are ATMs called in Mexico?

In Mexico, an ATM is called a ‘cajero‘. Most cities and towns in Mexico have an abundance of ATMs (cash machines), where you can withdraw Mexican pesos directly from your credit card or debit card.

What money is best to take to Mexico?

The best currency to take to Mexico is a mix of pesos and US dollars. If you can’t get pesos before your trip, you’ll be fine. Simply find an ATM as soon as you arrive in the country and pull out some cash. Try to use pesos as much as possible while visiting Mexico, as you will probably be overcharged if you try to pay in USD.

Where can I take out money in Mexico?

The best way to get pesos in Mexico is to use your debit card at an ATM. I do not suggest using any random ATM you find on the street, as you’ll probably end up paying high service fees to pull out cash. The best & lowest fee ATMs to withdraw pesos in Mexico are from well-known national banks.

Do you want to know best things to do during your stay?