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Money and banks in Mexico
 Page updated on 03.10.2015
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National currency

young tarahumaras at the Cusararé cascade (Creel)

The National currency is the Mexican peso : the coins (monedas) are issued in denominations of 1,2,5,10 and 20 pesos as well as 10, 20, 50 cents. The bills (billetes) come in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 pesos.
Don’t mistake the Mexican peso (mxn $) and the dollar (US$) since their symbols look like : 1US$ = 12/13mxn $.
You can change US dollars everywhere in Mexico as well as Canadian dollars and Euros (1€ = 16/17$ mxn in september 12).
Change your money when arriving at the airport and ask for small denominations. It is best to only have small denominations when buying something from not so wealthy sellers.
Avoid changing money in hotels. The rate is not good.

     Right picture : young tarahumaras at the Cusáraré cascade (Creel)


Precautions before leaving

Before leaving, call your bank and notify them that you’ll be traveling in Mexico. Ask them to raise the limit of cash you can withdraw with your debit card or the amount of purchases you can buy with your credit card. Double-check the date of expiration of your credit card before beginning your trip. If it will expire during your stay, ask the credit card company for an earlier renewal.


Banks and foreign exchanges offices (casas de cambio)

mexican bills

We advise you to change some money at the airport when arriving. Even if you have a credit card, it is better to bring some traveler’s checks and some cash, preferably in US dollars. You can even pay in US dollars in tourist areas, but the rate will not be the best ! Banks and some Exchange Offices accept Euros and Canadian dollars (traveler’s checks or cash); however, the rate is not very interesting. Accepted almost everywhere are traveler’s checks from American Express or Visa. It is not a problem to change US dollars in any bank, especially the main ones (BANAMEX, BANCOMER, HSBC, SANTANDER-SERFIN, etc.). It often takes more time to change money in banks. They are open Mon-Fri from 9:00AM to 4:00PM and Saturday morning. In tourist areas, you can find Exchange Offices open until 6 or 7:00PM every day of the week. It is more convenient, faster and the rate is usually better but they might not accept traveler’s checks.

Left picture : mexican bills




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differents pesos bills

Credit cards (as well as debit cards) can be used for purchases at hotels and at high and medium class restaurants. Many shops also accept credit cards but not at markets and small food stores. The most commonly accepted credit cards are VISA, MASTER CARD and AMERICAN EXPRESS.
ATMs (Cajero automatico or Caja permanente) are available in many places in Mexico. They are the best way to withdraw pesos. They accept the international credit cards previously named, as well as CIRRUS and PLUS cards. The rate is usually very good but be prepared to be charged a service fee by your bank for each transaction. Make withdrawals in one lump sum, if possible.

     Right picture : differents pesos bills

Every time you use your credit card for purchases, you’ll be charged fees (proportional or fixed) by your bank or Credit Card Company. The local seller, as well as the local bank, might charge extra fees also. If you are using a bank issued credit card, double-check your bank account summary when you get back home and react fast if something is wrong.
You could also ask your bank or credit card company (prior to leaving), what fees you will incur if you use your credit card in Mexico.

When using an ATM, make all transactions during daylight hours, preferably at machines inside commercial buildings or banks. Look around you.

Be suspicious of credit card fraud : one method consists of sliding the card twice by cashiers.

Make a copy of your credit card so you can cancel it in case it is lost or stolen. Keep it separate from your card. Cancel the card immediately and fill out a report regarding the stolen card at the police department.

Be aware that gasoline purchases cannot be charged on a debit or credit card. It is a particularity of Mexico.

It is a good idea to bring along traveler’s checks in US dollars in case your credit card is lost or stolen.
Keep separate from the checks, the numbers as well as the phone number to call in case you need it for reporting lost checks. Change : www.xe.com.

Address of VISA distributors :

Address of Mastercard distributors :

Adress of Scotiabank distributors - (subsidiary of BNP-Paribas)

Consult the list of Banamex offices and the list of Scotiabank offices

20 pesos bill

International money transfers

If you need to send or need to have money sent to Mexico, you could use the services of Western Union (www.westernunion.com). You can find many banks and stores all over the country that have this service. They are identified with a black and yellow logo with the words : “Western Union Dinero In Minutos”. The expeditor deposits the money in a Western Union Office, gives the name of the payee and pays transfer fees. To pick up the money, you need to present a picture I.D.
Western Union can be found all over the world. You can look at their web site to find a location near you, or contact them at : customerservice@westernunion.com.

Left picture : 20 pesos bill


Credit cards

If you made hotel, airline or car reservations through the Internet or by phone, use your credit card for payment. There are a lot of benefits : it is convenient and you might have some warranties (lost/stolen luggage, late arrival of planes, trip cancellation/interruption, and sometimes car insurance if you rent a car). If you don’t know the benefits of your card, call your bank or check on the Internet : www.americanexpress.com, www.mastercard.com. www.visa.com.

VISA 01 800 847 29 11 (Mexico) – www.visa.com - in D.F. - 55 53 87 41 00.
MASTERCARD 01 800 307 7309 (in Mexico) or (33) 01 45 67 84 84 in France : www.mastercard.com - in D.F - 55 54 80 80 00.
AMERICAN EXPRESS 55 53 26 26 66 / 53 26 25 00 / 53 26 27 00 / 55 98 75 00 or (33) 01 47 77 72 00 in France www.americanexpress.com - outside D.F 01 800 504 04 00.


Your comments about the content of this page
  • posted on 08/08/2010 - 21:08 by LynnMurphy  0 votes   
    There is a number to contact all banks for free from various countries around the world. It is some sort of public service administration system that lets you simply say the name of the bank or government agency and it connects you for free. English and Spanish are available. You can check it out at: IPAN.org.uk
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