exchanging money / using credit cards

Old Aug 20th, 2002, 11:14 AM
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exchanging money / using credit cards

I'm going to Playa del Carmen and was wondering where is the best place to exchange money. Should I exchange it in the US, US Airport, Cancun Airport, or PDC? Or should I use credit cards? Thanks in advance.
Old Aug 20th, 2002, 11:20 AM
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Exchange once you arrive (not in the States, no reason and it costs more). Airports usually have fine rates.

Take US cash to exchange + ATM card to withdraw peso + travelers checks IF you feel the need for emergencies. I would not use a credit card (except possibly to pay your hotel bill) because of potential fraud and/or many smaller places don't accept the.
Old Aug 20th, 2002, 11:21 AM
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Credit cards will usually get you the best exchange rate. Check with your bank to see if you can use your ATM to withdraw money in local currency from local ATM's. You will want to know what fees if any your bank charges per withdrawal.
Old Aug 20th, 2002, 11:46 AM
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Use the credit card for all purchases (including hotel, dinners, souvenirs, etc.) whenever possible as your bank will usually give you the best exchange rate available. We usually just exchange enough $$$ for essentials (taxi/bus fares, tips). Use your leftover pesos to pay on your hotel bill prior to leaving then charge the rest of your bill.
Old Aug 20th, 2002, 12:22 PM
are you sure ?
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Rate of exchange varies daily between US / Mexico. Credit cards honor these rates. Casa de cambio and banks post their daily rates of exchange also, so you can see them.

I question that credit cards give you any better rate than this ~ an ATM or cash transaction. Charges for using an ATM come from your HOME bank, whatever their international fee per transaction is.
Old Aug 20th, 2002, 03:49 PM
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Mike, I agree with $$$ that you should NOT use your credit card in Mexico if you can avoid it. I have been the victim of credit card fraud in Mexico and, believe me, it's something you want to avoid at all costs. Every other board I've been to suggests using the ATM for best exchange rate. Bring a credit card for emergencies only (i.e. medical emergency), your ATM card, and cash or traveller's cheques for all else. That way, when you return home, you'll have happy memories, not credit card fraud to deal with. Just a personal note...I don't like to rely solely on electronic payment methods because of another instance where my boss almost missed his flight home because there was a power outage and he could not pay his hotel bill. You can't leave the country if the hotel bill isn't paid!!! Keep traveller's cheques or cash for just such a situation.
Old Aug 20th, 2002, 04:21 PM
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Old Aug 20th, 2002, 04:26 PM
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Take a credit card w/you for emergencies only. And don't take a Discover card, for nobody will accept it. Just so you know, when you use any credit card over there, there's a commision charged to your credit card. The banks usually have the best exchange rate, which last week it was 9.50 pesos to the dollar. Bancomex, is the most trusted bank in Mexico.
Old Aug 20th, 2002, 05:01 PM
$$$ again
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I strongly disagree with the advise given by Marilyn and Lyn above....

There is something missing in this logic and clearly they haven't traveled throughout Mexico. Plastic is often NOT even accepted off the beaten-tourist path. The few cents possible difference in exchange rate would never make up for inability to pay your bill (counting only on using a credit card) or potential fraud.

Without being obnoxious, please let me repeat for Mike:
1) US cash (change into peso)
2) ATM (will give you peso)
3) Travelers checks, if you like
4) Credit card, only for emergencies
Old Aug 21st, 2002, 09:12 AM
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Sorry, we have been to Mexico 5 times and all we use are credit credit cards. Just keep all your receipts and you should have no problem with fraud. We don't travel to 'out of the way' places and that may be the difference but we have never had any problems.
Old Aug 21st, 2002, 09:26 AM
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I've been to Mexico more than a dozen times. I like to use credit cards, but depending on where we've travelled, many places don't take them. Where I can use them, I do. I hesitate to say that we have had no problems and maybe jinx it, but so far no problems. For cash, I use ATM's. Also take a small amount of USD (we're Canadian), just in case all else fails.
Old Aug 21st, 2002, 09:41 AM
Credit Cards
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All you people using credit cards better NEVER let the card leave your sight, or you risk being a victim of "cloning"; otherwise you'll have other unpleasant things to deal with when you get home besides dirty laundry...like 1000's of dollars of fraudulent charges on your credit card account. In hotels, stores, restaurants, wherever, you follow that card (even follow the waiter to the cashier)an never, ever let the card leave your sight. Cloning can occur in 1/2 a second, as all the "thief" has to do is swipe the card through a small pager-size device and all your charge info goes into a computer where within several hours, a "cloned" card is printed, which looks and scans exactly like yours and then you'll suddenly find "yourself" buying car parts in Puebla, furniture in Guadalajara or luggage and vacations in Cancun! The latter happened to me and it took several phone calls, letters, affadavits and copies of credit card slips to resolve the issue with the credit card company. These fraud rings pay employees of businesses to "swipe" for them, or arrange for their "sub-thieves" to get jobs in especially highly-trafficked tourist areas. It's rampant all over Mexico, as in many other places all over the world.

I'm not saying don't use credit cards at all, but if you say you use them "all the time", you're exposing yourself to one of the biggest rip-off scams going around. It's best to notify your credit card where you're going and specifically where you may use your card, if possible, but NEVER
let the card leave your direct sight.
Old Aug 21st, 2002, 12:01 PM
short story
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No tragedy but good example of why not to count on only credit cards:

In Puerto Vallarta we have dinner at a ribs joint/sports bar and pay with Visa. Several days later on our way to the airport (& pretty much broke) we decided to celebrate with an expensive shrimp lunch and margaritas at the same restaurant. Fortunately before our food order went to the kitchen we saw a small paper hand-written sign, "Sorry not accepting Visa/MC". In 3 days something had changed with this business at least for that moment. That's just Mexico!! Unpredictable.
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