Traveling to a different country has been one of our greatest joys! One of the biggest and most shocking disappointments has been figuring out the money situation--where to get it? Will my debit card work? What is a fair exchange rate? Based on our experiences throughout Mexico, we have compiled a few tips to help this part of your trip a breeze!
Where to Get Pesos in Puerto Vallarta
If you are coming to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico we highly suggest you exchange your US dollars for pesos. Although most places around town do indeed accept US dollars, the exchange rate is much less favorable at these places than at a bank. Also, we tend to think that people flashing around their US dollars are easy targets for people to take advantage of exchange rate. You're sort of telling people point blank: "I'm not from here. I brought my US dollars. I don't really know what's going on."
We typically get our pesos at any ATM in town. They are all attached to a large bank and we have never had any safety concerns at any of them.
What to look for when finding an ATM to use:
Is it part of a bank?
We have heard some horror stories about people using the "cashola" ATM's. These are the free-standing machines that you may see in some stores or just randomly on the sidewalk. They can't all be bad, but we do not use those. We prefer going to a bank ATM because if something goes wrong, we can just go inside the bank to get things straightened out. (For the record, this has never happened.)
Is it in a populated area?
We try to look for ATM's that are in a semi high traffick area. We don't want to use one on Time's Square, but we also don't want to use one on a small back road! This is sort of a "safety in numbers" mentality.
How much money can you get out?
This one is hard to know in advance, but through trial and error we have found that Intercam will only let us take out 3,000 pesos, Bancomer will let us take out 6,000 and CIBacno will let you take 6,000 as well. That may not be very important if you are only coming for a week, but something to note.
Can I use my debit/credit card?
Some establishments will let you pay with a card, but those places are few and far between as their little terminals are often not working properly. I would have a credit card on hand, but plan on making all of your purchases with cash!
-Be SURE to let your bank know that you are traveling to a different country so that your card does not get flagged. There's nothing worse than waiting 20 minutes in a line for an ATM and then your card not working. (Been there, done that.)
-You can also exchange your dollars for pesos at your bank in the United States.
-Can I exchange at the airport? Yes--we have never done this. We have heard mixed stories about these sort of exchange places, so we always head to a proper bank instead.
Have other questions regarding money in Puerto Vallarta? Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time, Have Less. Do More. Be More.