viernes, abril 19, 2024

Money, Dollars and Pesos: A Guide to Currency in Los Cabos



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Seasoned globetrotters know how complicated it can be trying to familiarize yourself with a new currency. Be it fluctuating exchange rates, surprise fees, or lacking monetary infrastructure, every currency has its own surprises, and changing from Dollars to Pesos is no different. Luckily for you, understanding how money works in Mexico isn’t the towering mystery it may seem. There are various tips and tricks that can help you navigate the intricacies of paying your way forward through Baja.

Cash vs. Credit

First of all, it’s important to know that Baja California is no stranger to strange money. Deep roots with American tourists mean that the USD is accepted across most of the peninsula. If you’re lucky, you won’t have to worry about exchanging currency at all. That said, most establishments will accept credit cards and the exchange rate with the credit card is often better than paying in cash Dollars if the merchant bills in pesos. Still, it’s important to be diligent. Always ask about the exchange rate. Check your bank fees and make sure to check every item on your statements.

Generaly, banks tend to charge fees on international purchases, and although credit card adoption is near-universal, you’ll find exceptions in smaller less tourist-oriented stores. For places like those, and simply to minimize the risks of using your credit card in a new place, it’s best to have at least 100$ USD worth of cash on hand in case an issue pops up that you don’t expect.

Is it really worth it to convert your dollars to pesos?

The answer is yes. You could save as much as 10-15% by making purchases in pesos, on top of being safer and more universal. A little hassle now will save you big time down the road. But how, exactly? It’s one thing to understand why you should convert currency, it’s another to understand how. So let’s break that down. Now remember, the Mexican peso can vary a lot in how it’s valued next to the US dollar, let alone other currencies. For the purposes of simplicity, we’ll be focusing on the USD. As of now, it floats at around 16-20 pesos to the dollar.

Oh yeah! How exactly do you convert currency while in Mexico?

Savvy tourists can use currency exchange booths available locally, everywhere from the airport to downtown. These booths offer conversion from dozens of currencies globally, but be aware that their rates can vary greatly, and all of them exchange to the booth’s advantage. These establishments advertise rates to buy and sell dollars: If you sell a dollar, you’ll receive a lower value in pesos, and if you buy a dollar, it’ll cost more pesos than what you would have sold it for. Essentially, if you see two exchange rates on a sign, you will receive the lower one for your dollars.

If you’re exchanging in a currency that isn’t USD, have no fear! Money booths exgange Canadian dollars with no problem, and a few have even started exchanging Euros. It’s always good to compare exchange rates and terms.

Be sure not to exchange more than $20 at the airport, if you’re not careful you could lose up to 25% of your cash on the exchange rate. Wait until town, where rates are more reasonable, and you have more options. Remember, exchange rates vary from location to location and may change hourly, so make sure to look for the best rate available between your options! Finally, be sure to remember that if you’re crossing into Mexico by car, the exchange rate may be better on the Mexican side of the border for those wanting pesos.

Other payment options

If you’re still determined to not use credit cards or cash, it’s possible to avoid using both, but with admittedly much more hassle. Personal checks are not honored unless drawn from a Mexican bank, and even then only at the bank that issued the check. Intercam is a newer bank that is foreign-friendly, and foreign residents are finding it easier to work with them. All banks are extremely meticulous about signatures, and identification must be with a passport. On top of that, banks have become hesitant about changing foreign cash, especially for non-customers. As of now, Intercam will change up to $1500 US dollars, Canadian dollars, and Euros for a non-customer with a passport.


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