Best currency for trip to Playa Del Carmen???

May 18th, 2004, 10:41 AM
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Best currency for trip to Playa Del Carmen???

We will be in Playa Del Carmen for 7 days, and I was wondering if we should just bring our American dollars, exchange everything for Pesos, or if traveler's checks would be the best? I have never traveled internationally so have no experience with this. I have heard that some people have troubles sometimes with travelers checks (I've never used them), and also that sometimes when you exchange dollars for pesos you get ripped off. What would you suggest? And are there certain places that are better for exchanging currency than others in PDC?
aquarius2678 is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 10:51 AM
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We just got back from two weeks there are exchanged dollars (via traveler's checks) for pesos.
The cambios (exchange windows) have the rate clearly marked, and you can go to the best one.
We got $11.40 to one while we were there.
Use pesos or traveler's checks if you must.
Do NOT use credit cards anywhere there. PDC (and Mexico in general) are very high on the list of cc scam areas.
We returned last year from a trip and someone had copied my husband's card number and manufactured a fake card with someone else's name on it.
Diana is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 11:06 AM
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We bring some US dollars with us, but most of our cash comes from ATM's. The exchange rate is good, and it's so easy. Usually aren't even any fees.

As for credit cards, we don't use them much because of fraud problems, but for tours and such we have used MasterCard without problems.

I keep thinking I should get some traveler's checks for emergencies, but I never get around to it.

JeanH is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 04:00 PM
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I'd say that the easiest way would be to use ATM's and your debit card.

Credit cards give good rates, but you usually get the best deal by using your debit card for purchases. For what it's worth, I've been many times in the area (alas, my job used to take me there), and have used my credit and debit cards extensively without any problems. Of course, your mileage may vary.
Jean_Valjean is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 04:11 PM
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Unfortunately for ATM users, there is a new scam that is prevalent in PDC ATM's.

There is a little device that the thieves insert into the slot of the ATM that eats your card.

You leave, they retrieve the sleeve/gadget thingy and off they go with your card.

We used our cc's only at the hotels where we stayed so we could easily pinpoint if there's a problem.
Diana is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 05:44 PM
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That trick with sliding in the thing to snag your ATM card has been discussed quite a bit. It's not a risk if you use a busy ATM (the thief needs to target a seldom used ATM to be sure of getting a chance to duck in and snag the captured card).

Also, credit cards aren't a good option these days because *MOST* banks issuing both MasterCard and Visa impose unjustified "exchange" rates or conversion penalties. Sadly, our government under-regulates banks and lets them get away with such frauds. A few banks (like MBNA) still have cards without these unfair ripoffs, but most banks figure people won't even notice, and those who do won't bother to complain. Unfortunately, they've been right on both counts.

ATM cards have been my favorite way to get cash for several years now and have proven very reliable.

Have fun!
TioGringo is offline  
May 19th, 2004, 09:06 AM
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Sorry, Steve, but it happened to us in Playa last year (we did stay at your place but didn't mention it to you).

We think we know which shop it was on 5th, but we have no way of proving it.

I found several internet sites that list Mexico (along with Russia, Egypt, the Philippines and Indonesia) as having particularly high incidences of cc fraud.

"Besides rising consumer debt, another consequence of credit-card growth is fraud, especially in Mexico and Malaysia, where anti-fraud measures are not stringent. In Mexico, credit-card cloning produced losses of $54 million for banks during 2001."
Diana is offline  
May 19th, 2004, 09:37 AM
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I always hear that Mexico is bad for credit card fraud, but knock on wood, I've never had a problem there. Now I have had problems here in Toronto - once when my wallet was stolen and another time, I have no idea how they got the number. So it can happen anywhere. I do find that many places in Mexico don't take credit cards, so we tend to rely on ATM's, but we also use our visa card when we can.
SusanInToronto is offline  
May 19th, 2004, 10:55 AM
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Sorry you had that happen to you, Diana! That's one, then, although still when you look at it objectively, that's a very small percentage of the total, and I suspect the majority of visitors still don't experience such trouble.

So for SusanInToronto, what is the proper nomenclature for "person from Toronto," anyway?!?

May 19th, 2004, 11:19 AM
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You get the best deals using pesos and you get the best exchange rate from cash. I usually bring as much U.S. currency as I am comfortable with and exchange that at the best rate I can find. After that ATM's will get you the best exchange. I look for one that you can swipe your card so your card won't get eaten. I carry traveler's checks as a back-up (occasionally ATM's have not worked for me)but generally end up re-depositing them at home. If I have to use a travler's check I really look at the exhange rates as they vary widely. When its all said and done you can save close to ten cents on the dollar using pesos if you seek out good exchange rates.
Dude is offline  
May 19th, 2004, 11:31 AM
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Steve, people in Toronto are called Torontonians.
SusanInToronto is offline  
May 19th, 2004, 08:22 PM
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Since it's only a 7 day trip personally I'd bring US cash and change it to peso at the cambios (currency exchange) or a bank. ATM, if you feel comfortable given what's been posted (I'm not familiar w/PDC specifically). Credit card or maybe travelers check to pay the hotel bill, if that's not already taken care of. You won't be ripped off if you simply check exchange rates which are usually posted; maybe avoid changing in shops or small businesses or your hotel front desk (although sometimes they may have favorable rates).
suze is offline  
May 20th, 2004, 06:29 AM
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"Steve, people in Toronto are called Torontonians"


To add to the real content of this thread and to follow up on Dude and Suze, a usually excellent place to exchange (or just use) US dollars here in Playa is Chedraui, and I assume the same will be true of Sam's and Wal-Mart, once they're operating here, as they similarly give excellent rates in Cancun. They usually offer the interbancario rate, which is what the exchange places add 20 centavos to or subtract 20 centavos from at your expense (depending on whether buying or selling dollars) in order to create their margin and have a business in the first place.


May 20th, 2004, 10:27 AM
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I visit the Playa/Cozumel often and have never had a problem using a credit card/debit card in either. I always use pesos and usually obtain them at a bank ATM for the best rate. (Dude's comment is a good one--look for one of the machines where the card can be swiped and not inserted in the machine!)
Of course fraud happens in Mexico--and it also does in other countries including the U.S. I have read recently of many privately owned ATM's in the US which capture your credit card information for future use. Again, the best advice is use a bank ATM.
I have found that by using the normal precautions you would normally use will prevent most problems in Mexico!
RobertSDF is offline  

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