As a traveler, your main concern will be getting the most favorable rate possible when travel abroad. A commonly asked question is: should I convert now, or will my money be worth more when I go abroad? Unless your trip is months away, the answer is that it probably will not make much of a difference. The major currencies tend to move +/- 1% in a given day, which is a relatively minor move unless you are changing thousands at a time. Experts agree that travelers will be best off looking for a place that will change money inexpensively. Below are some of your options.
Exchanging Money at Home
While still at home, you can exchange currency at your local bank. Experts suggest only changing enough to cover travel and transportation costs until you are settled at your destination, as the costs of exchanging money at home can be prohibitive. Other services you can use at home include online money exchange services, which will take American funds and send the converted money to your home. The obvious risk with services like these is fraud and the safety of your funds while they are in transit.
Exchanging Money via Credit Cards
Generally credit cards offer the most favorable exchange rates for changing money, since credit card companies have access to better rates than individuals. Be careful when using the credit card if your home currency is falling—since the transactions are not converted instantly, there is a possibility that you will end up with a less favorable conversion rate a few days later.
Changing Money at ATMs
If you would rather not carry large sums of cash, ATMs are a convenient way to obtain local currency at a reasonable exchange rate. Keep in mind that your withdrawal may be subject to a fee, so check with your bank before leaving home. The other point to note is that your bank may freeze your card if out-of-the-ordinary transactions (such as withdrawals in 4 different countries over the course of a week) appear, so keep a copy of your bank’s contact information on hand. You also can report your bank which countries and cities you’ll be visiting to avoid that your card be blocked.
Changing Money at Hotels and Airports
While hotel and airport exchange may seem convenient, beware of high transaction charges. Generally experts advise avoiding exchanging money at a hotel or airports unless you have no other choice. The other alternative to exchange money is through the bureau de change offices, you can locate them in malls and small plazas, they offer a decent exchange rate. Also, you can buy foreign currency there to return home without Mexican pesos, that is, you give them pesos, and you will get the desired currency.
Rates in Local Banks
The rates given at local banks are usually decent, although keep in mind that one of two things can happen. If the exchange rate given is determined purely by supply and demand, then you will end up with a price that is close to what is being quoted in the foreign exchange market globally (“market price”). The other alternative is that the government of the country you are in sets the currency exchange rate, which must be offered by anyone who is changing money. Regardless, local banks are often a convenient and relatively low-cost option for changing money.
Paying with Credit Cards
Most of the stores, hotels and restaurants in Cancun and the Mayan Riviera takes as method of payment Visa, Master Card and American Express. Be advised that the credit card Discover is not accepted in some stores or hotels. Before you order in a restaurant or buy anything, always ask if they take credit cards and what type. Take note that when you pay with a credit card in stores, the amount shown on the screen of the point of the sales machine will be in pesos, so don’t panic when you see several zeros, your bank will charge you in converted USD.
Banks operating in Cancun
CitiBanamex, BBVA Bancomer, HSBC, Scotia Bank, Banorte, Banco Santander and Banco Azteca. Each bank has several branches located all over the city. If for some reason you need to receive money from abroad, Western Union is a good option and you can collect your money at Elektra Stores, CitiBanamex or HSBC. They will not give you US currency for wire transfers, they will convert the transaction into Mexican pesos.
Ripped or Taped bills & coins in Mexico
Do not bring foreign coins to Mexico, they are not accepted anywhere as a method of payment. None of the banks takes the coins for exchange as well. If you plan to tip your maid, waiter, driver, etc., do not tip them with coins, we suggest that before you leave your country, change your coins into one-dollar notes. Before traveling, check that your bank notes are not torn, taped, badly damaged, contain any type of hand writing or are stamped. If you try to pay with these bank notes, it is very likely that they will not be accepted anywhere such as stores, banks and hotels.