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Should I take US Dollars or Mexican Pesos?

leeds
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Should I take US Dollars or Mexican Pesos?

I am going on holiday to Cancun in 2 weeks and I was just wondering if I should take it all in pesos or US dollars?

I have seen people say different things about each one, but I would just like to take whatever is the easiest currency to use over there.

And also if anyone could explain to me what pesos equivalate to in US dollars that would be great!

Thanks :)

London, United...
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1. Re: Should I take US Dollars or Mexican Pesos?

Mexican pesos, without question. The rate is very good at the moment, whereas the USD rate is very poor. That and you will end up paying up to 30% more for goods and services if you use USD, as typically, you will get a rate of between 10-12 pesos to 1 USD (often 10), whereas the actually rate is 13.

It just makes absolutely no financial sense at all to bring USD.

USA
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2. Re: Should I take US Dollars or Mexican Pesos?

Pesos. It is the currency in Mexico.

Mexico
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3. Re: Should I take US Dollars or Mexican Pesos?

"just like to take whatever is the easiest currency to use"

Uh, local currency?

leeds
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4. Re: Should I take US Dollars or Mexican Pesos?

I know the local currency is pesos but some people do say to use US dollars because it can be easier than pesos

So I just wanted to know what people thought

London, United...
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5. Re: Should I take US Dollars or Mexican Pesos?

""just like to take whatever is the easiest currency to use"

Uh, local currency?"

That's not actually that stupid a question, given that a lot of people on here talk about bringing USD, and also given that often items are marked in USD; every single shop we went to in Playa we had to ask for the peso equivalent, the prices weren't marked in pesos. Also, trips booked through UK reps are sometimes prices in USD, not pesos, and when the rate wasn't so good a couple of years ago, it could work out cheaper to book trips in USD.

Calgary
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for Akumal, Riviera Maya, Cancun
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6. Re: Should I take US Dollars or Mexican Pesos?

The people who find it easier to use US dollars are typically the people who happen to have US dollars lying around - e.g. people from the US. See, by bringing their own currency, they're avoiding having to do a currency exchange altogether.

As noted by London, this "convenience" doesn't come for free. When you buy using dollars, the merchant gets to set the exchange rate and it can easily end up costing 30% or more than if you'd paid with pesos.

So, if you already have dollars lying around that you *really* want to use up, bring them to Mexico. If you have to do a currency exchange anyway, you'll be better off to skip the US dollars altogether and just get pesos.

If you have to pay departure tax separately (i.e. if you're travelling with a charter airline to the UK), they don't always accept US dollars, so you'll need pesos or sterling for that.

Edited: 06 June 2012, 22:37
Wisconsin
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7. Re: Should I take US Dollars or Mexican Pesos?

I was wondering the same question, and it seems that pesos would be a good choice. However, do you usually exchange before coming to Mexico or after you get there? And where do you exchange the money?

London, United...
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8. Re: Should I take US Dollars or Mexican Pesos?

We change before we go, as I haven't found the rate hugely better over there, and unless you are right in town, you'd need to get a taxi into town to get the best rates (the rate at your hotel will not be as good as it is in the UK), which negates any slightly better rate. But, this is just us; I know a lot of people prefer to wait until they get there.

We've got our currency from M&S the last few years, as we find their rates good.

Wisconsin
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9. Re: Should I take US Dollars or Mexican Pesos?

Am I right in assuming though that when I get to my hotel, I can use the ATM to take out Pesos using my debit card? Or will I have to go to a bank to get the exchange taken care of? Thanks,

Calgary
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for Akumal, Riviera Maya, Cancun
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10. Re: Should I take US Dollars or Mexican Pesos?

Most hotels have an ATM terminal but if they're not bank-affiliated, you can sometimes get stung with high fees. (FWIW, this isn't a Mexico thing; there's a non-bank, stand-alone type of ATM near my house that charges 3X the regular bank fee for withdrawals.)

If you plan on using ATMs (and are sure your own bank won't charge you an arm and a leg in fees), here are a couple of things to watch for:

- if at all possible, stick with bank affiliated ATMs that are firmly anchored into a permanent structure, e.g. the wall of a bank;

- NEVER, ever, ever, EVER withdraw US dollars from a Mexican bank machine. You will get scorched on two sets of exchange fees and will be very sad when you see your bank statement;

- as with any ATM, check for signs of tampering before inserting your card and shield you hand when you enter the PIN;

- notify your bank prior to travel. Foreign withdrawals can be a red flag and you don't want them freezing your account on you;

- check your bank's policy and perhaps your home insurance to see what you're covered for in the event of fraudulent transactions and watch your bank statements very closely. I don't mean to be a scaremonger but there has been a rash of postings recently about fraudulent withdrawals which have occurred after people have used ATMs - sometimes shortly afterwards, sometimes months later.

I've seen recommendations on these forums that you should change you PIN as soon as you get home to prevent any fraudulent post-vacation withdrawals. I prefer to go one step further and put my vacation cash in a completely separate account which gets cleaned out as soon as I get home. That way, if the bad guys do manage to get at my account, there's a limited amount of damage they can do.

Finally, I'd suggest you have a Plan B in mind just in case your ATM card won't work, gets eated by the machine, your account gets compromised etc. Again, I don't want to be an alarmist but I'm a firm believe in hope for the best but plan for the worst.

Edited: 07 June 2012, 00:39