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
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.
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.
and foreign exchanges offices (casas de cambio)
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
If you need to send or need
to have money sent to Mexico, you could use the services of Western
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 : email@example.com.
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.
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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