Living in Mexico

Pesos vs Dollars: Avoiding Local ATM Machines

The US and Canadian dollar are strong right now, but you’ll be selling yourself short if you use the ATMs located on 5th Avenue

It is very tempting, while walking down the 5th avenue, to make use of an ATM when you find yourself low on cash. Or to use the American or Canadian dollars in your pocket without exchanging them, figuring that local merchants will accept them. But don’t fall into this trap, as you will end up paying out much more. The US dollar  is very strong at the moment, hovering around 18, and the Canadian dollar is currently just under 14. This translates into a lot of spending cash for you. But not if you allow local merchants to set the exchange for you, or make use of aforementioned ATMs. If you do, you will likely lose out on a lot of potential money.

Local Mexican residents are not immune to bad exchanges either. Sometimes a passenger taking the bus or a colectivo may be forced to use up the US dollar in their pocket only to find the driver is giving them an exchange of 10 pesos. This often results in a helpful passenger offering up some change of their own to spare them getting ripped off.

Hotels are not any better. A few months back, a friend of mine came to Playa and stayed at one of the big resorts. He made the mistake of exchanging his money in the hotel, getting a poor rate as a result. The same went when he negotiated a ride home by taxi, much to the delight of the driver who made sure to give him a high price for the ride and an equally poor exchange.

Cash is king here, and you should stick to using pesos as often as you can while exchanging them in the best places. If you must use an ATM go to a bank machine at Scotiabank or Banorte, conveniently located on 10th avenue; it is much better! But the best are the exchange kiosks, who are in competition with one another and give the best rates of all. If you maintain this discipline, you will see your money go further and get the maximum exchange that you deserve.

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