ATMs are widely available in medium-size and large cities. Credit cards are accepted in some hotels and restaurants, most often in midrange and top-end establishments.
- Mexico’s currency is the peso, usually denoted by the ‘M$’ sign. The peso is divided into 100 centavos. Coins come in denominations of five, 10, 20 and 50 centavos and one, two, five and 10 pesos; notes come in 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 pesos.
- International credit cards are accepted for payment by most airlines, car-rental agencies, many midrange and upmarket hotels, and some restaurants, gas stations and shops; they can also be used to withdraw cash from ATMs. Visa is the most widely accepted card in the Yucatán.
- Many businesses take debit cards as well, but you'll usually wind up paying the card issuer a 3% international transaction fee. Some credit cards tack on international surcharges, too.
- As a backup to credit or debit cards, always carry cash, especially when visiting remote towns with few or no ATMs available. US dollars, euros, British pounds and Canadian dollars are the most easily exchangeable foreign currencies in Mexico. Some hotels offer discounts for cash-paying customers. Many restaurants outside tourist centers accept cash only.
ATMs (caja permanente or cajero automático) are plentiful in the Yucatán and are the easiest source of cash, though a few tourist areas (like Río Lagartos and surrounds) still remain without. You can use major credit cards and some bank cards, such as those on the Cirrus and Plus systems, to withdraw pesos (or dollars) from ATMs. The exchange rate that banks use for ATM withdrawals is normally better than the ‘tourist rate’ – though that advantage is negated by transaction fees and other methods that banks have of taking your money. Use ATMs during daylight hours, and whenever possible, in secure indoor locations.
Banks & Casas de Cambio
You can change currency in banks or at casas de cambio (money-exchange offices). Banks have longer lines than casas de cambio and usually shorter hours. Casas de cambio can easily be found in just about every large or medium-size town and in some smaller ones. Some exchange offices will ask for your passport as a form of ID.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
Should you need money wired to you in Mexico, an easy and quick method is through Western Union. The service is offered by many bank branches and other businesses in the Yucatán, identified by black-and-yellow signs. Your sender pays the money online or at a Western Union branch, along with a fee, and gives the details on who is to receive it and where. When you pick it up, take along photo identification.
- Hotels About 5% to 10% of room costs for staff.
- Restaurants 15% if service is not included in check.
- Supermarket baggers/gas-station attendants Usually around M$5.
- Porters M$25 per bag.
- Taxis Drivers don't expect tips unless they provide an extra service.
- Bars Bartenders usually don't get tipped so anything is appreciated.