Monday, July 25th 2022

Tips for Bringing & Spending Money in Mexico

Written by

Rafael Bracho

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Tips for Bringing & Spending Money in Mexico

This Article Will Save You Money


Tips for Bringing & Spending Money in Mexico

Are you planning a trip to Mexico? Have you been considering a vacation? Even if you’re an expat already living in Mexico, our tips can help you save money.

All of us at Expat Insurance have lived in Mexico at least five years. We’ve had to learn lessons the hard way. In this article, you’ll learn our tips for how to save money when spending cash, transfer cash, and exchange cash in Mexico.

Should I Get Cash Before I Go to Mexico?

Tips for Bringing & Spending Money in Mexico

A lot of this depends on where you’re going. If you’re going to San Jose del Pacifico (where there is no ATM), then you’ll likely want to take out enough cash to get you through that leg of the trip.

However, assuming you’re going to any beachy pueblo or relatively developed town, they will definitely have a major bank with an ATM. (Be warned that ATMs can run out around the 15th and 30th of every month.)

I would take out a small amount of cash before you travel—enough to make sure you get to your destination, and then a little extra. It’s just safer not to carry large amounts of cash on you in Mexico. Also, any cash you take out in your home country will have to be converted to pesos, and that conversion will cost you money.

If you’re worried about fees taking money out internationally, we’ll get to that in the next section.

Using a Travel Credit Card

Tips for Bringing & Spending Money in Mexico

Travel credit cards are an excellent asset for any expat, nomad, or just frequent traveler. The most important thing about travel credit cards is that they have fraud protection. Credit card theft is common in tourist hot spots—and hidden scanners are most often found in these areas.

However, travel credit cards also come with ATM reimbursements and transaction fee reimbursements. These fees add up after a while and having a travel credit card can really save you money in the long run.

ATMs in Tourist Hotspots

Tips for Bringing & Spending Money in Mexico

When using ATMs in tourist hotspots, you have to be extra careful. First off, use an ATM that is from a major bank. Avoid nameless ATMs that are unaffiliated with a major bank—you’ll usually find these outside mom-n’-pop tiendas.

Some places, like Sayulita in the state of Nayarit, only have these unaffiliated ATMs. If so, pay attention to which ones the locals use. Some of these are scams, and tales of scams run rampant in places like Sayulita. (This is why it’s so important to have fraud protection from a travel account.)

Second, make sure that your ATM dispenses Mexican pesos! The last thing you need is to pay an exorbitant amount in ATM fees, only to get dollars which you will then get robbed when you spend them in the local economy.

Declining the Atm Transaction Rates That Rip You Off

Tips for Bringing & Spending Money in Mexico

This can be a new one for first time travelers to Mexico, but it’s a staple for those expats who have lived here for a while. When you go to an ATM to take out money, it’ll ask you if you want to “accept the conversion fee” or “decline the conversion fee”.

Always decline the conversion fee.

It’ll still give you the money, and your bank will give you a much more reasonable conversion rate than the ATM.

Transferring Money

Tips for Bringing & Spending Money in Mexico

Transferring money can be a pain, but there are ways that you can transfer money without losing a substantial portion of your transfer.

– Transferwise –

By far, the best is Wise. Formerly known as Transferwise, this website allows you to transfer money quickly and conveniently across borders without having to give the platform a huge portion of your transfer. You just need to sign up for an account, and then you can begin receiving and sending money.

Also, you can even get a Transferwise card that allows you to spend the money directly from your Wise account, which ends up acting as a kind of a travel credit card. It’s a great asset to have—especially if you run into an emergency abroad.

– Western Union –

With locations around the world, Western Union is still one of the most affordable ways to send money internationally. It’s not our go-to, but it’s definitely a viable option if you’re in trouble in another country—say you’ve had your wallet stolen—and you need cash in a pinch.

Where Is the Best Place to Convert Usd into Pesos

Tips for Bringing & Spending Money in Mexico

There are times when you have to convert foreign currency into pesos. This is always a loss—you’re better off just taking out money from the ATM—but, we’ve all had to do it.

The first rule is, if you’re going to a currency exchange stand, then don’t go to the ones at the airport. You’re better off finding one wherever your destination in Mexico happens to be.

However, the best option is to go to a large bank. Major banks will exchange currency for you, and they’ll give you a mid-market exchange rate, which is better than you’ll get at the airport.

Don’t Spend Your Money in Dollars

Tips for Bringing & Spending Money in Mexico

As mentioned above, don’t ever spend USD dollars in Mexico. Places will give you terrible exchange rates—which is why they accept USD. They’ll offer you 15 pesos to the dollar (if not less), and the exchange rate is 20:1.

Tips for Getting Large Amounts of Cash out for Deposit

Tips for Bringing & Spending Money in Mexico

Some banks are better for taking out large amounts of money. BanBajio is one of the best. They charge about $1.50 USD to take out cash, and they offer a higher limit than most other ATMs.

One of the worst is BBVA. If you don’t have an account with them, it costs about $8 USD to take out cash.

Also, be aware that Banamex—which offers a decent fee, only about $2 USD—only dispenses cash to non-Banamex accounts when the ATM has lots of cash. If they’re running low, they save their funds for Banamex users only.


Tips for Bringing & Spending Money in Mexico

These are mostly tips for newer expats, nomads, and just travelers to Mexico. Once you’ve been living in Mexico long enough, we recommend opening a Mexican bank account—and we’ll cover that in another article soon.

But with a shrewd eye and a little preparation, you can avoid the scams and outlandish fees that banks and tourist operations use to get that little extra in exchange rates. We hope this helps!

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