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Best place to exchange money

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Best place to exchange money

I’m going to Cancun I’m a few weeks. Where should I exchange money? Airport? Hotel? And how much should I have for 4 days with a family of 6? I will need it for tipping and for souvenirs I think maybe a couple meals but I don’t drink so that cuts costs down. Plus I will be on property a lot so I can charge the food to the room at that point. Not sure how much money to have. Don’t want to end up with a ton of pesos at the end that I can’t do anything about. Thanks

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Cancun
Cancun
Quintana Roo, Mexico
13 replies to this topic
Calgary
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for Akumal, Riviera Maya, Cancun
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1. Re: Best place to exchange money

The best available exchange rate is obtained by withdrawing pesos from your own bank account via ATM. However, you also have to look at what the bank charges. The owner of the ATM will levy one fee - so long as it's a bank-owned ATM, that charge won't be significant. Your own bank will also levy a fee and this is where you need to be careful because some banks (especially those in the US and UK) have very high fees for foreign withdrawals. If yours is one of them, then ATMs may not be your best choice.

The next best available exchange rate can be found at banks and cambios; make sure you carry your passport with you when you go to do this transaction as they may ask for it. The downside here is that the nearest bank/cambio may be a taxi ride away from where you're staying, so that cost needs to be factored in.

Most hotels and resorts offer currency exchange services but the rates they use are not regulated. Some offer very good rates, close to that of a bank or cambio; others, not so much. However, if your resort is located in the middle of nowhere, by the time you factor in the cost of a taxi to the nearest bank/cambio/ATM, it may work out better to simply suck it up and go with the hotel's less-than-stellar exchange rate.

Airports are typically the absolute worst places to exchange currencies as they give lousy rates. Again though, you need to weigh up cost versus convenience. If you're only exchanging a modest amount, does a few points difference on the exchange rate really make that much of a difference to you?

FWIW, I usually exchange a small amount of cash (enough to last me a few days) at a forex place close to my home before I leave (this place offers better rates than my bank). After that, I withdraw cash from ATMs as and when I need it. My own bank does have a small charge for this, so I'm careful to try to limit my withdrawals to one every few days (rather than daily). Obviously, there is some cost to my approach but, for me, the convenience and not having to walk around with wads of cash, it's worth it. YMMV.

One last thing, sometimes, it's useful to know where a poster is from because then it may be possible to give specific recommendations on where to do a currency exchange in your home country. You may want to edit your profile to include that information.

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2. Re: Best place to exchange money

Thank you. Thank great information and I never realized my profile doesn’t have where I’m from. I’ll have to figure that out. Any ideas how much is normal for 1 day for 1 person? I’m assuming I should multiply that by 6 for my family

San Luis Potosi...
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3. Re: Best place to exchange money

I actually found the Mexico City airport to give a pretty good exchange rate, almost 1 peso more to the dollar then the money exchange houses in the provinces. So if anyone is passing through that airport it is an option. The Cancun airport is probably pretty low since the dollar value in Cancun is low to begin with.

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Mexico City
Mexico City
Central Mexico and Gulf Coast, Mexico
Cancun
Cancun
Quintana Roo, Mexico
Calgary
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for Akumal, Riviera Maya, Cancun
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4. Re: Best place to exchange money

"Any ideas how much is normal for 1 day for 1 person?"

Depends on where you're staying and what you want to do. A person staying non-AI wanting to do lots of sight-seeing and excursions will need a lot more cash than a person staying at an AI planning to let sand-gravity take over.

Houston, Texas
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5. Re: Best place to exchange money

I'd go to Costco and use the ATM there

Texas Gulf Coast...
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6. Re: Best place to exchange money

Patrick C,

Welcome to TA! No offense intended Patrick, but traveling all the way to Costco just to use an ATM is a major inconvenience IMHO. I certainly would not use any free-standing non Bank affiliated ATMs, as those are most frequently the ones that are compromised and charge the highest fees. Adding insult to injury, some may even dispense US dollars!

Major banks in Mexico will include BBVA Bancomer, Banorte, Banamex, HSBC, Santander& Scotia bank. I would check with your home Bank to see if they may have any reciprocal agreements or lower fees with any of these major Mexican Banks. You will find these Bank branches all over the Cancun Hotel zone, so no need to travel south of Cancun (el Centro), just to get to Costco & use any ATMS there.

One more option that HolaGata forgot to mention is that there is a Mexican Bank, Banco Azteca, which is located inside of the consumer electronics store Elektra. This Bank is open 7 days a week, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. You will need to present your passport, but they will readily exchange your US dollars for Mexican pesos.

As all I forgot to mention, *do not* exchange your US dollars for Mexican pesos at the Cambio window in the CUN airport!! You will receive some of the worst rates anywhere by using the airport cambios.

Hope this helps, safe travels.

¡Diviértanse!

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Mexico
Mexico
North America
Cancun
Cancun
Quintana Roo, Mexico
El Centro
El Centro
912 Reviews
Isla Mujeres, Mexico
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7. Re: Best place to exchange money

Have a nice time! You can exchange in your country and exchange what you have when you return.

Indianapolis...
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8. Re: Best place to exchange money

We got took at the airport. They said "No Comission", but when we saw the exchange rate at the hotel, they charged us 20%!!! We ate $100 the hard way!!

The ATM at the resort charged 5%. MUCH better. We'll remember that for next time.

There are also banks and little places around the outskirts of downtown CUN you can exchange.

Connecticut
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9. Re: Best place to exchange money

As others said a bank owned ATM in a bank is the best option. Stand alone ATM's including those with a bank name and those in hotel lobbies are not good choices. Make sure to tell your bank you will be in Mexico and do check what they will charge you. The current rate is about 19.4 pesos to 1 dollar. You will get close to that at an ATM but if you exchange at your hotel (if they will exchange as some do not) will be 1+ pesos less.

Tip, if you have Windows 10 open the calculator and click the 3 lines in the upper left. Chose currency and you can get the current exchange rate there.

It is impossible to tell you how much you will need. It really depends on what kind of souvenirs you buy and what kind of food you want. I can have a good meal for 2 with 2 drinks for $50 or less. I can also spend $125. You can also use a credit card for most stores and restaurants. Visa and MasterCard are taken anywhere a cc is taken. Amex is a little less accepted as is Discover. Again check with your credit card bank to see if they charge a foreign transaction fee and tell them you will be in Mexico. Even if they do it is usually 3% or less and not worth worrying about.

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Mexico
North America
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10. Re: Best place to exchange money

Also 1st time converting to pesos.

TIjuana airport rate was 18.1/dollar outside and 17.09 inside terminal. Keep in mind 2 pesos = 10 cents so not much of a difference.

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