Travel Money Guide: Mexico

Rates and Fees verified correct on December 3rd, 2016

Hola Amigos! Learn which payment methods are safe and convenient in Mexico and compare travel money cards.

Planning a trip south of the border? Preparing your travel money options beforehand is the key to a stress-free holiday. Here you can compare prepaid travel cards, debit cards and credit cards to securely and conveniently access your money overseas. We cover what money you’ll need to use in Mexico, the types of cards to take to save on fees and insider tips on bringing and spending travel money in Mexico.

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.

Bankwest Zero Platinum MasterCard

Bankwest Zero Platinum MasterCard

$0 foreign transaction fee with a $0 annual fee.

  • $0 p.a. annual fee
  • 17.99% p.a. on purchases
  • 2.99% p.a. for 9 months on balance transfers
  • Cash Advance Rate of 21.99% p.a.
  • Up to 55 days interest free

Compare travel cards for Mexico

Rates last updated December 3rd, 2016
Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (MC) Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (VISA) Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Annual fee
Bankwest Zero Platinum MasterCard
Complimentary travel insurance & 24/7 concierge service and $0 foreign transaction fees.
0% of transaction value $0 $0 p.a. Go to site More info
28 Degrees Platinum MasterCard
No foreign transaction fees on international purchases including international purchases online, together with a no annual fee.
0% of transaction value $0 $0 p.a. Go to site More info
ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card
Pay no overseas transaction fee on purchases and receive complimentary domestic return flight and lounge passes each year you hold the card when you spend $500 on eligible purchases within the first three months.
0% of transaction value $225 p.a. Go to site More info
Coles Rewards Mastercard
Earn 2 flybuys point for every $1 spent and no foreign transaction fees for online purchases and overseas trips.
0% of transaction value $4 $89 p.a. Go to site More info
Rates last updated December 3rd, 2016
$
Monthly Account Fee Debit Card Access Overseas Eftpos Fee Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee
ING DIRECT Orange Everyday Account
Get a $75 cash bonus.
Get a competitive ongoing variable rate when linked with a Savings Maximiser.
Visa $2.50 $2.50 Open More
Bankwest Qantas Transaction Account
Earn Qantas Points on eligible purchases and on your account balance.
Conditions apply.
Mastercard 2.95% $0 Open More
ANZ Access Advantage
Earn a $100 shopping voucher.
For opening a new account by 18 Dec 2016 and shop three times with your new Visa debit card by 8 Jan 2017 (conditions apply).
Visa 3% $5 Open More
Westpac Choice
$0 ATM withdrawal fee at 50,000+ ATMs globally.
Via Westpac's Global ATM Alliance. Get Cash without your debit card (conditions apply).
Mastercard 3% $5 Open More
Bankwest Easy Transaction Account
Pay no ATM fees at over 10,000 ATMs in Australia (conditions apply).
Mastercard 2.95% $5 Open More
BankSA Complete Freedom Account
Open one in less than 5 minutes with Cardless Cash available.
Visa $3 $5 Open More
Bank of Melbourne Complete Freedom
Get Cardless cash and shop securely with your Visa debit card. Customise SMS and email alerts.
Visa $0 $5 Open More
St.George Complete Freedom Account
10% Cash back for online gaming purchases.
Waived account keeping fees when minimum deposit is met with no minimum balance.
Visa 3% $5 Open More
BankSA Express Freedom Account
Get Cardless Cash, free SMS and email alerts.
Visa $3 $5 Open More
Bank of Melbourne Express Freedom
Get Cardless Cash and PAYG branch and cheque services.
Visa 3% $5 Open More
Rates last updated December 3rd, 2016
Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Reload Fee Initial Load Fee
ANZ Travel Card
ANZ Travel Card
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD, AUD 3.50, CAD 3.00, EUR 2.20, GBP 2.00, HKD 20.00, JPY 260, NZD 4.50, SGD 4.00, THB 95, USD 2.50 1.1% of the value purchased $0 Go to site More
NAB Traveller Card
NAB Traveller Card
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD $0 per withdrawal on international ATMs and $3.75 per withdrawal at any Australian ATMs $0 $0 Go to site More
Cash Passport MasterCard
Cash Passport MasterCard
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD $2.50 for withdrawals made overseas 2.95% of the amount withdrawn for domestic withdrawals $0 $0 Go to site More
Travelex Travel Card
Travelex Travel Card
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD Travelex does not charge an ATM withdrawal fee when you use your Travelex Multi-currency Cash Passport to withdraw currencies that are loaded on the card at overseas ATMs where MasterCard is accepted. The greater of 1.1% of the initial load / reload amount or AU$15.00 $0 Go to site More

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

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
201612.936202
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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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Full guide to travel insurance for Central America and Mexico

Frequently asked questions

What rate do I get when I make an ATM withdrawal?

Travel cards have a different exchange rate to credit cards and debit cards. Debit cards and credit cards use the MasterCard, American Express and Visa international exchange rate (plus whatever fee for currency conversion), whereas travel cards use the "cash rate". The MasterCard, Visa and American Express foreign exchange rate is closer to the rate you hear quoted on the news than the travel card exchange rate. Rates are listed online in the travel money section on the card issuer's website.

Is using an ATM in Mexico safe?

There are risks using an ATM anywhere in the world. Always check the ATM for signs of tampering where you insert your card and where you enter your PIN. Furthermore try to use ATMs inside or attached to a bank and cover the keypad with your hand when you enter your PIN. Criminal organisations are using increasingly sophisticated means to steal ATM details. A Russian crime gang operating in Cancun has stolen millions from tourists using Bluetooth technology. Remember to review your transaction history regularly during your travels. Let your bank know right away if you see unauthorised card use and they can investigate the suspicious transaction.

What do I need to prepare before leaving for Mexico?

Precautions to consider include photocopying the following documents:

  • Passport
  • Copy of your credit/ debit cards
  • Emergency contact numbers for your banks
  • Store your extra credit/ travel card in a separate compartment to your wallet in the case of theft
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This page was last modified on 20 July 2016 at 11:52.

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