Money

Mexico's currency is the Mexican New Peso ("Peso")

  • The symbol for Peso is $. Obviously, that's easily confused with the Dollar sign, $.
    • If there's any question, ask before using your credit card!
    • Sometimes you'll see abbreviations such as MXN$ or USD$, which helps
  • Prices are usually best when you pay in Pesos
  • There are theoretically 100 Centavos per Peso, but prices are nearly always in full Pesos 
  • Keep a few hundred Pesos when you leave so you'll have some when you return to Cozumel

Ways to Get Pesos

  • Casa de Cambio - "Foreign Exchange House"
    • Plentiful throughout the island
    • Not necessarily the best exchange rate
  • Get Pesos at home at a bank or exchange house
    • Not usually a very good exchange rate
  • Withdraw from ATM on the island (see below)
    • Usually a good exchange rate
    • Some US banks have free withdrawals or no foreign exchange fees at certain Mexican ATM's
    • Larger withdrawal limits will save on fees due to fewer withdrawals - check with your bank
  • Exchange Dollars for Pesos at Mega
    • Favorable exchange rate when you make a purchase
    • Limited to fairly small amounts
  • Use a credit card
    • Usually a good exchange rate
    • Watch out for foreign use fees charged by some cards
    • What you think of as a "credit card" may actually be a debit card
      • Some debit cards work in Mexico, some do not
      • Debit cards may not have the same fraud protections as credit cards

Caveats Concerning Dollars

  • Torn or heavily worn foreign bills will not be accepted
  • It's a terrible idea to withdraw Dollars from ATM's on the island. You'll pay fees to exchange your home currency into Pesos then pay again to exchange into Dollars.
  • All foreign coins are completely useless in Mexico as they are not accepted in exchange
    • Don't tip using foreign coins
  • We use Dollars only when non-negotiable prices are set in Dollars, such as for diving, and when we have plenty of Dollars and are short on Pesos. If we have plenty of Pesos, we'll usually still pay using them after converting the Dollar amount to Pesos.

Travellers' Cheques

  • Not recommended!
    • Not widely accepted - merchants hate them
    • Difficult to use
  • Do NOT sign except in front of the person you're paying
  • Names must match your ID exactly, including middle names
  • ALL signatures must match EXACTLY, both each other and your ID

ATM's

  • Avoid using any freestanding ATM's on the street, such as Cashola machines along Melgar
    • Fees are massive and exchange rates are exorbitant - they're a terrible rip-off
  • Watch out for skimmers, as you would anywhere
  • Cover your hand when entering your PIN to defeat PIN cameras
  • Safest ATM's are the ones inside banks or large grocery stores
    • Low fees (or, sometimes, no fees)
    • As safe, and as risky, as in the US

Credit or Debit Cards

  • Minimize the need to carry cash
  • Not widely accepted at small businesses
  • Widely accepted at large businesses
  • Credit card surcharges are common at discount stores
  • Exchange rates are usually favorable
    • Exchange rate is determined by your bank, so check with them
  • Foreign use fees usually apply - check with your bank
  • Mexico widely accepts swipe cards, so chip-and-PIN cards aren't currently necessary