The local currency in Mexico is the Mexican Peso. US dollars are still widely accepted but proprietors exchange rates many vary greatly.
Most hotels will change currency at either the front desk or a designated exchange booth. Once outside the hotels, you will see many “casa de cambio”, which translated means “money exchange house”. These are the most convenient ways of changing currency once here in the Mayan Riviera. You may want to change some before arrival, as the bank exchange rate is normally the highest.
Want to check on the current exchange rates for the Mexican Peso? Try www.x-rates.com
The Mexican Peso is the national currency, although US dollars are still widely accepted in the businesses throughout Cancun and the Riviera Maya. Euros are also accepted in certain businesses.
You best bet is to use pesos instead of other currencies to pay for your shopping, dining out and other purchases as you will receive the current exchange rate and not be at the mercy of the proprietor’s rate. Alternatively, you can also pay with a credit card which will give you the banks high exchange rate.
Peso bills come in 1000 (rare), 500, 200, 100, 50 and 20. Coins are 10, 5, 2 1 and 50 centavos.
Please note that although they do have 5, 10 and 20 centavo coins, they are rarely used and you are rounded to the nearest 50 centavos.
Please advise your bank that you will be traveling to Mexico as they may freeze your card for “fraudulent” activity. Also, some banks are now starting to charge fees for International transactions so best to check with your bank and see if this applies to your card.
When using your credit card in Playa del Carmen, some shops may ask for a piece of picture ID to ensure that the credit card is in fact yours. If your bank does not charge for International transactions, paying with a credit card will get you the bank’s exchange rate (plus whatever points you accumulate with your card) and save you a bit of money.
Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted, whereas American Express and Discover are not as easy to use.
There are many ATM’s in the hotel and around Playa del Carmen.
There are USD and Peso ATM's as well as several that offer the choice of both. You are best to withdraw pesos, as you will pay to convert your money twice if you withdraw USD. Check with your bank before you come, as many banks charge for international withdrawals. Fees start at about $2US but may be as high as $10US per transaction.
The local ATM will also add on a fee between 25 and 45 pesos, so you are best to withdraw a large amount to avoid getting charged multiple fees for various withdrawals.
Avoid the no-name ATM's and try to use a branch bank ATM such as ScotiaBank, HSBC, Banamex, Santandar, or Banorte. This way if you have an issue, you will be able to follow up.
Tips are extremely welcome, expected and hoped for, however don’t feel obliged to tip indiscriminately.
Reward good service gladly, but please do not tip if you were treated in an offhand or grudging way.
Within all inclusive hotels you may notice that not very many people leave tips. Although the hotels may tout that the tips are included in your package, please feel free to tip the staff that are helpful and reward good service. Salaries are extremely low and the staff work 6 day workweeks. An extra few dollars now and then are more than welcome.
If you are eating out , some establishments may include a 10% standard tip or even be so bold as to recommend a certain percentage of tip. Check your bill carefully to make sure that they have not already included the tip in the final price.