Mexico’s currency is the peso (M$). Mexico is largely a cash economy. ATMs and exchange offices are widely available. Credit cards are accepted in many midrange and top end hotels, restaurants and stores.
ATMs (cajero automático) are plentiful. You can use major credit cards and Maestro, Cirrus and Plus bank cards to withdraw pesos. The exchange rate you’ll get is normally better than the ‘tourist rate’ for currency exchange at banks and casas de cambio (exchange offices), though that advantage may be negated by the M$30 to M$70 fee the ATM company charges and any foreign-transaction fees levied by your card company.
For maximum security, use ATMs during daylight hours and in secure indoor locations.
Banks & Casas de Cambio
US dollars are the best currency to bring with you; Canadian dollars and euros are also widely accepted. You can exchange cash at casas de cambio and some banks. Casas de cambio exist in just about every large town and many smaller ones. They are often open evenings or weekends and usually offer similar exchange rates to banks. Banks go through more time-consuming procedures, and usually have shorter exchange hours (typically 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm Saturday).
It’s a good idea to carry cash. In tourist resorts and many Mexican cities along the US border, you can make some purchases in US dollars, though the exchange rate won't be great.
Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted by most airlines and car-rental companies, plus many upper midrange and top-end hotels, and some restaurants and stores. Occasionally there’s a surcharge for paying by card. Paying by credit card normally gives you a similar exchange rate to ATM withdrawals. In both cases you’ll normally have to pay your card issuer a foreign-exchange transaction fee of around 2.5%.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
Many service workers depend on tips to supplement miserable wages.
- Restaurants Tip 10% to 15% unless service is included in the check.
- Hotels It’s nice (though optional) to leave 5% to 10% of your room costs for those who keep it clean and tidy.
- Taxis Drivers don’t expect tips unless they provide some extra service.
- Porters Airport and hotel porters usually get M$50 to M$100.
- Attendants Car-parking and gas-station attendants expect M$5 to M$10.