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Travel Money Guide: Mexico

Heading south of the border? Have a stress-free holiday with our expert guide to your travel money options in Mexico.

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Aside from mastering the art of ordering a margarita in the local lingo and navigating the best taco stands, you'll need to know the best ways to pay for these indulgences while in Mexico.

Read up on how the Mexican currency works, how much you should plan to spend and insider tips on how to safely and conveniently access your money. Make sure you pick the right card for you with our easy comparison between prepaid travel cards, debit cards and credit cards.

Compare your travel money options

To make the most of your time in Mexico you'll need to have access to pesos by way of ATMs or currency exchanges. Debit and credit cards are also widely accepted at larger retailers and hotels.

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Foreign currency conversion fee Overseas ATM withdrawal fee Purchase rate Annual fee
Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard
0%
$0
17.99% p.a.
$0
Offers a $0 annual fee, 0% foreign transaction fees, complimentary international travel insurance and a balance transfer offer.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
0%
$0
0% for 15 months, reverts to 10.99% p.a.
$69
Get 0% interest on purchases for 15 months, complimentary travel insurance and no foreign transaction fees.
Coles Rewards Mastercard - Exclusive Offer
0%
$5
19.99% p.a.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Finder Exclusive. Ends 29 October 2020
Save with $100 off a Coles Supermarket shop and a $0 first-year annual fee. Plus, 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 18 months (1.5% fee applies).
NAB StraightUp Card
0%
N/A
$0
Save with 0% interest charges and 0% foreign transaction fees. Plus, $0 monthly fees when you don't use the card or carry a balance.
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Data indicated here is updated regularly
$
Name Product Card access ATM Withdrawal Fee Monthly Account Fee Internatonal ATM Fee Foreign transaction fee
HSBC Everyday Global Account
Visa
$0
$0
0%
Special offer: $100 cash bonus for new HSBC customers.
Earn 2% cashback on tap and pay purchases (T&C's apply).
Enjoy no minimum ongoing balance or transaction requirements and the flexibility to hold up to 10 currencies. Apple Pay and Google Pay available.
CUA Everyday Snap Account
Visa
$0
$4.50
2.95%
Refund of international ATM withdrawal fees and international card transaction fees (conditions apply). Refund of overdrawn fees.
$0 monthly account fee. Unlimited fee-free everyday transactions.
Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay available. Savings Top Up tool automatically transfers to linked savings account.
Citi Global Currency Account
Mastercard
$0
$0
Pay $0 international transaction fees and $0 overseas ATM fees when you use a foreign currency linked with your account in a country that uses that currency. Make sure your debit card is linked to the correct currency before using an ATM, otherwise a foreign exchange fee applies.
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Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Initial Load Fee Reload fee
Travelex Money Card
AUD,USD,CAD,EUR,GBP,HKD,JPY,NZD,SGD,THB

Overseas: $0

Domestic: 2.95% of the amount withdrawn

1.1% of initial load value or $15, whichever is greater
1.1% of transaction value or $15, whichever is greater
Lock in exchange rates for up to 10 currencies, pay no overseas ATM fees and get exclusive merchant offers.
7-Eleven Just Go Pre-Paid Travel Card
AUD,USD,EUR,GBP,NZD
EUR €0, GBP £0, AUD $0, USD $0, NZD $0
$0
$0
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Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Minimum Order Amount Maximum Order Amount Delivery/Pickup Method Commission Fee
Travelex Foreign Currency
$500
$5,000
In Store,At Airport
$0
Travelex makes it easy to exchange and get the best rate on over 40 currencies so you can be prepared for your next holiday.
Foreign Xchange Travel Money
$0
$9,999
In Store,Home Delivery
$0
Order multiple currencies in one transaction and have it delivered directly to your door anywhere in Australia. No delivery fee for orders over $1,000. A $10 flat fee applies to orders less than $1,000.
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Which option is right for your next trip?

At this point of time no prepaid travel cards from Australia allow you to preload the Mexican Peso. As a result travel credit cards and travel debit cards may be your ideal option for your next trip to Mexico.

Travel card, credit card or debit card?

The local currency in Mexico is the Mexican Peso, and there are a few ways you can make purchases in Peso in Mexico. Here we compare prepaid travel cards, credit cards and debit cards to help you determine which one is best for your trip down Mexico way. ATM's are widely available in Mexico and are compatible with debit cards, credit cards and prepaid travel cards. You can find an ATM at every bank, supermarkets, shopping centres and at hotels.

Travel money options for Mexico at a glance

Travel money optionProsConsiderations
Debit cards for travel
  • Avoid currency conversion fees on foreign transactions
  • Emergency cash facilities
  • Ideal for managing your travel budget
  • Fees. Currency conversion and international ATM fees
  • Can't be used over the counter
  • No emergency cash
  • No backup cards
Prepaid travel money cards
  • Protected by PIN & chip
  • Pre-load and secure your exchange rate in multiple foreign currencies
  • Accepted worldwide
  • Emergency card replacement and backup cards
  • Ideal for managing your travel budget
  • Local ATM fee
  • Reloading time
  • No fee - Assuming cardholder is spending on a currency loaded onto the card
Credit cards for travel
  • Protected by PIN & chip
  • Access to funds up to your credit limit
  • Accepted worldwide
  • No currency conversion/ transaction fees
  • Benefits including rewards points on spending, 0% purchases, frequent flyer perks
  • Emergency card replacement
  • Can charge high withdrawal and cash advance fees
  • Higher spending limit (depends on your approved credit limit)
Traveller's cheques
  • Secure and can be easily replaced if lost or stolen
  • Photo I.D. needed to cash cheques
  • Can be costly with initial purchase charges
  • Not all merchants accept traveller's cheques
Cash
  • Greater payment flexibility
  • Convenience
  • More difficult to manage expenses
  • Higher risk of theft

This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.

How much Mexican Pesos do I need to bring?

Mexico CityBudgetMidrangeExpensive
to-sleepHostel dorm bed
$13.37
Double room
$44.55 to $89.12
Luxurious hotel double room
$89.12 to $371.32
to-eatLunch in economical restaurant
$4.46 to $5.95
Dinner with drinks
$14.88 to $22.32
Fine dinner
$22.32 to $37.20
to-seeMuseum admission
$0.74 to $5.21
Uxmal Entrance for two
$24.70
Personalised day tour
$111.59 to $148.79

*Prices are approximate and are subject to change

Exchange rate history (AUD to MXN)

YearAverage annual exchange Australian Dollar (AUD) to Mexican Pesos (MXN)
201213.620194
201312.340099
201411.998516
201511.850727
201613.893532
201714.488435

*Exchange rates are accurate as of 4 September 2017

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How different travel money products work in Mexico

Using a prepaid travel card

Travel cards are generally a good way to take your funds overseas and spend in multiple currencies, but they're not all suitable for use in Mexico:

  • Supported currencies. At the time of writing there are no prepaid travel cards you can load with Mexican Pesos. Merchants in major tourist destinations like Tijuana, Cancun and Acapulco do accept U.S Dollars; however, this may not extend to card payments.
  • Currency conversion fees. If you're using a prepaid travel card that charges currency conversion fees and doesn't support Mexican Pesos, you'll be charged a currency conversion fee. Travel card currency conversion fees are among the highest in the market. This fee alone makes it more cost effective to use another type of card in Mexico.

How to compare prepaid travel cards

Using credit cards

A credit card can be a good option for financial security and emergency expenses on your trip to Mexico. There are some features and drawbacks that you'll want to keep an eye on to ensure that you're getting the most out of the credit card you choose:

  • Currency conversion fees. Unless you have a credit card that is designed for overseas use, you're likely to be charged currency conversion fees (of around 3%) when you make a purchase in Mexican Pesos. Some merchants may accept US dollars, which are also supported across all Australian travel money cards.
  • ATM withdrawals. Cash advance and interest charges, ATM fees and currency conversion fees can wipe about $10 off your balance for every cash withdrawal. ATM withdrawals using credit are treated as a cash advance, so the transaction accrues interest right away and a cash advance fee is charged per transaction.
  • Emergency card replacement. Most Visa, Mastercard or American Express cards can be locked and replaced if lost or stolen. For example, Visa can arrange for emergency cash from a Western Union if you're stuck in a tight spot while you wait for a replacement credit card from your bank.
  • Acceptance. Credit cards and other forms of plastic are widely accepted in Mexico. Keep in mind Visa and Mastercard are not accepted on buses, most taxis, tour guides, corner stores and taquerías. Look for a sign saying "No Tarjetas De Credito" or ask first if you want to find out whether you can use your card.

Compare different types of travel money credit cards

Using debit cards

Like a credit card, using an Australian debit card in Mexico has both benefits and drawbacks. Consider the following when comparing your options:

  • Currency conversion fees. Some Australian debit cards are designed to be used overseas, so they don't charge currency conversion fees on foreign transactions. If you're using your regular debit card, it's likely that you'll be charged a currency conversion fee of at least 3% per transaction when you make a purchase in Mexican Pesos.
  • ATM withdrawals. Look for a card that has an international ATM presence, as you might be able to use ATMs without being charged withdrawal fees.
  • EFTPOS card. You can use your EFTPOS card to make a cash withdrawal from an ATM in Mexico. Some ATMs take EFTPOS cards without a chip, but these ATMs can be few and far between. EFTPOS cards can not be used over the counter; you need a Visa or Mastercard debit card to make purchases.

Pros and cons of using debit card overseas

Paying with cash in Mexico

Dating back to Spanish colonisation, Mexican Pesos come in denominations of 10c, 20c, 50c, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $200, $500 and $1000. $20 is the lowest value banknote. MXN is the currency code for Mexican Pesos. Mexico uses the dollar sign ($) as the currency symbol.

mexico-banknotes

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Buying Mexican Pesos in Australia

1 AUD is worth approximately 13 MXN according to Google Finance, which means you will be paying approximately $46 for a double room in a midrange hotel, $22 for a good dinner including drinks and $4.60 for a taxi ride in the city. Mexican Pesos are widely available at most currency exchange offices including Travelex and major banks. Exchanging at your local/ member bank can be a good idea to avoid extra fees and charges.

Where can I get money exchanged in Mexico?

Cash, ATM's and how to exchange money in Mexico

There are a number of places you can get cash exchanged in Mexico, including Banco de Mexico (the nations national bank) and at casa de cambio's (exchange bureaus). You can visit a bank during business hours between Monday and Friday. Australian dollars are a common international currency; however, you may only be able to change Australian dollars to Pesos at larger banks. You can also get money changed at bureaux de change and casa de cambio outlets. These exchange offices are common and they can offer the same rate, if not better, than banks. Some cases de cambio offices may only exchange US Dollars, so shop around to find out where you can get Australian dollars changed to Mexican Pesos.

Locate a currency exchange/ ATM in Mexico

Using US dollars or Mexican Pesos in Mexico?

You can use $USD in Mexico, especially in the major tourist spots, where some merchants give you the option of paying in MXN or USD. The vendor can give you an "over the counter exchange rate" between USD and MXN. The price of the goods can be inflated by as much as 30% if you pay with USD in Mexico as vendors generally use an exchange rate of $10MXN to $1USD. To make your money go further use Mexican Pesos.

Using a combination of travel money options

There is no single best travel money strategy, as the right one will ultimately depend on where you're travelling, how you're spending your money and what you can afford. For example, if you're going to be making a lot of cash withdrawals, consider a debit card with an ATM alliance or a prepaid card with low withdrawal fees over a credit card. If you want a backup to make emergency or large purchases, a credit card could come in handy. Plus, you'll always need cash to make everyday purchases. Withdrawing a substantial amount of cash for when you arrive can be an ideal option to ensure a smooth transition into your destination country. Make sure to organise more than one option so you always have a backup plan should something go wrong. There are many ways you can take your cash to Mexico, but the best option will depend on how you're spending your money and the features that you are after. Consider your financial situation, your travel plans and how you'll be spending your money to determine which combination of travel money options is the right one for you.

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Get travel insurance quotes for your holiday in Mexico

warning Finally, some good news! Domestic travel is picking up, so some insurers have started offering cover again 🦘
Just remember, you won't be covered for any pandemic related claims if you do take out domestic travel insurance.
International travel insurance is limited and sometimes unavailable at this point.

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