Preparing for your trip to Mexico:
Understanding currency, ATMs, and alternative payment options!
When you decide to visit Mexico, either for a short stay or even when you come on an extended stay (more than a month), you’ll eventually become short on cash and need to find a way to get some Mexican pesos to cover those costs. This financial guide will show you how to exchange money and use ATMs in Mexico.
Currency in Mexico
The official currency of Mexico is the Mexican peso, symbolized by the “$” sign and often abbreviated as “MXN.” The peso is divided into 100 centavos. Mexican coins come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 centavos, as well as 1 and 2 peso coins. Mexican banknotes come in 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 pesos. It’s important to note that some places, especially tourist areas, may accept U.S. dollars, but the exchange rate may not be as favorable as pesos. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to have some pesos on hand for small purchases, as not all places will accept credit or debit cards.
Where Do You Get Cash?
You can exchange dollars for pesos if you see an exchange kiosk or store. You can also find exchange kiosks in large international airports. However, even when you use a local exchange store, you need to check the exchange rate as it may be much higher than what you would find at an ATM or bank.
There are several ways to get cash in Mexico, such as:
ATMs: Cash can be withdrawn from ATMs using a debit or credit card. It is advisable to check with your bank for any potential fees before using an ATM.
Banks: Cash can be withdrawn from a bank using a debit or credit card, but check with your bank for any potential fees or withdrawal limits.
Currency exchange offices: Cash can be exchanged for Mexican pesos at currency exchange offices or money changers. Be sure to check the exchange rate and fees before making a transaction.
Travellers checks: These can be cashed at banks or currency exchange offices, but this is not a very common way of obtaining cash.
- It is important to be aware of the exchange rate and any fees associated with obtaining cash, and to have a backup method of obtaining cash in case of emergency.
Most banks will not exchange dollars for you. This is because they do not handle cash exchanges. However, you can use any bank’s ATM and get the bank’s exchange rate for that day. In both cases, banks will use the mid-market exchange rate. It sits in the middle of the buy and sell rates on the world’s currency markets.
You must realize that all banks are different, and despite using the interbank rate, not all banks and ATMs will offer the same speed and fees.
Your home bank may partner with some banks abroad, which may help you waive some fees. Other banks not affiliated with yours will probably build in an additional charge or take a cut of your withdrawal. It is also possible for other banks to tack on withdrawal fees or deduct a percentage of your exchange.
You can save money by doing some research before your trip. Do some research before your trip to save money. Keep in mind that if you’re traveling to a remote part of Mexico, you’re not likely to find sophisticated financial infrastructure and may be faced with no banks or ATMs, so come prepared.
Using Credit and Debit Cards in Mexico
he three credit cards that are most frequently accepted in Mexico are Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. These popular cards should work smoothly, especially in more crowded or popular tourist areas. However, fewer vendors will honor cards provided by smaller companies, so do your research ahead of time.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to always have some cash on hand. However, only carry some money you intend to use daily. You risk being unsafe otherwise.
Many banks charge foreign transaction fees every time you pay for something. Credit card companies will charge a standard fee of 1% to 3% for all international transactions. This is the standard for all transactions you make in a foreign country. Even so, you may be better off using your credit card only when making a large purchase. i.e., something like accommodation or expensive tour activities.
You’ll want to avoid further problems by telling your bank you are traveling abroad. Some banks will freeze an account if they see transactions from outside the country.
ATMs in Mexico
ATMs, also known as “cajeros automáticos” in Mexico, are widely available throughout the country and are a convenient way to obtain cash in Mexican pesos. It is important to keep in mind that not all ATMs will accept all types of cards, and some may charge additional fees. It is a good idea to check with your bank or card issuer before traveling to Mexico to find out if your card will work in Mexican ATMs, and if there are any additional fees or withdrawal limits.
When using an ATM in Mexico, it is also important to be aware of your surroundings and to use ATMs located in well-lit, populated areas. It is recommended to avoid using ATMs that appear to have been tampered with or that look suspicious.
It’s also worth noting that many ATMs in Mexico will have a limit on withdrawal amount per transaction, so you may need to make multiple transactions if you need a large sum of money.
What Is The Most You Could Be Charged on an ATM?
The most you could be charged when using an ATM in Mexico will depend on several factors, including your bank or card issuer’s fees and any additional fees charged by the ATM operator.
Fees that you may be charged when using an ATM in Mexico include:
- Foreign transaction fee: This fee is charged by your bank or card issuer for making a transaction in a foreign currency. This fee can range from 1% to 3% of the transaction amount.
- ATM withdrawal fee: This fee is charged by your bank or card issuer for each withdrawal made at an ATM. This fee can range from $2 to $5 per withdrawal.
- ATM operator fee: This fee is charged by the ATM operator for using their machine. This fee can range from $1 to $5 per transaction.
It’s important to note that not all ATMs will charge all of these fees, and some may charge additional fees. The best way to avoid unnecessary fees is to check with your bank or card issuer beforehand and see if they have any partnerships or agreements with ATMs in Mexico. Also, you can use the ATMs of the bank you have an account, or check if your account has a worldwide coverage.
In summary, the most you could be charged when using an ATM in Mexico will vary depending on your bank or card issuer’s fees and any additional fees charged by the ATM operator, but it could reach up to $10 or more per withdrawal.
How To Purchase Things in Mexico!
When making purchases, always buy things in Mexican pesos instead of your home currency. It will be cheaper, and you can better prevent scams. So think about exchanging enough cash for your trip but only take some of your money everywhere you go. Just take what you need and leave the rest in a safe place where you are staying.
Cash: Mexican pesos are widely accepted in Mexico, and cash is the most commonly used form of payment. It is a good idea to have some cash on hand for small purchases or when shopping at local markets.
Credit and debit cards: Many businesses in Mexico, especially in tourist areas, will accept major credit and debit cards such as Visa and Mastercard. However, it’s always a good idea to check with the merchant before making a purchase to see if they accept card payments.
Traveler’s checks: Traveler’s checks can be cashed at some banks and currency exchange offices, but this is not a very common way of making purchases in Mexico.
Electronic payments: Mobile wallet services, such as Apple Pay or Google Pay, and cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, are not widely used in Mexico. However, some businesses in big cities and tourist areas are starting to accept them.
Prepaid debit cards: Prepaid debit cards are a good option for those who want to limit their spending and control their budget, as well as to avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
Banks in Mexico!
Today, there are just as many modern banks in Mexico as in Canada, the United States, and other major countries. And many of them have ties with banks in your own countries, maybe even your bank, so check with your home bank before you leave on vacation. In addition, banking services in Mexico have steadily improved over the last decade, so if you bank with a global bank, chances are you’ll find a branch or partner bank in Mexico.
Central retail banks in Mexico
Knowing the central banks in Mexico can help you determine where you can find the least expensive ATM for your particular withdrawal.
- BBVA Bancomer Mexico is one of Mexico’s largest banks and has a business relationship with Wells Fargo.
- Banamex is a Mexican bank owned by Citigroup, and if your bank in the USA with Citigroup, you can withdraw from Banamex ATM for free.
- Banorte has merged with IXE. If you have a Capital One debit card, you can get free withdrawals at the Banorte ATM, but only up to 3,000 pesos.
- Santander Mexico may charge fees for Santander clients, and be sure to notify your Santander branch that you are traveling, so you don’t get your card blocked.
- HSBC also has over 1,400 branches in Mexico. You can expect free ATM withdrawals if you bank with HSBC in your own country.
- Banco Inbursa is a Mexican bank owned by billionaire Carlos Slim.
If you want to ensure your card and your money stay safe and you want a better exchange rate, you can use a service like Wise, Xoom, Payoneer, Western Union, or MoneyGram. Mexico has many places where you can send money yourself. You need to show an I.D. like your passport or send it to a Mexican citizen to pick it up for you. Keep in mind that this only works with amounts less than $1,000.
Withdrawal Limits with Banks in Mexico!
Withdrawal limits with banks can vary depending on your bank and the account type you have. Some banks may have daily withdrawal limits, while others may have monthly or transaction limits. It’s essential to check with your bank before traveling to Mexico to find out what your withdrawal limit is and if there are any additional fees for foreign transactions.
Here are some examples of withdrawal limits that may apply to banks in Mexico:
- Daily withdrawal limit: Some banks may have a daily limit on the amount of cash you can withdraw from an ATM, ranging from $200 to $1,000.
- Monthly withdrawal limit: Some banks may have a monthly limit on the amount of cash you can withdraw from an ATM, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.
- Transaction limit: Some banks may limit the number of transactions you can make at an ATM, ranging from 3 to 10 transactions per day.
It’s important to note that these limits are just examples, as withdrawal limits can vary depending on the bank, account type, and other factors. Additionally, these withdrawal limits may only apply to some ATMs, as some may have their withdrawal limits. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to check with your bank or card issuer beforehand and see if they have any agreements or partnerships with ATMs in Mexico or if they have worldwide coverage.
When traveling to Mexico, it’s essential to have various payment options available to ensure you have access to cash and can make purchases. It’s a good idea to have some money on hand in Mexican pesos for small purchases or when shopping at local markets. Many businesses in Mexico, especially in tourist areas, will accept major credit and debit cards such as Visa and Mastercard. However, checking with the merchant before purchasing is always a good idea to see if they accept card payments.
ATMs are widely available throughout Mexico, and convenient to obtain cash in Mexican pesos. Still, it’s essential to be aware of any additional fees or withdrawal limits that may apply. Therefore, check with your bank or card issuer beforehand to find out if your card will work in Mexican ATMs and to have a backup method of obtaining cash in an emergency.
Finally, it’s essential to be aware of the exchange rate and any fees associated with making purchases and having a backup payment method in case of emergency. For example, you can use traveler’s checks, prepaid debit cards, and electronic payments such as mobile payments.