I frequently seen people asking about whether they should bring dollars or pesos for the upcoming visit to Loreto (or elsewhere in Mexico). How can they exchange dollars for pesos? Can they use an ATM machine? Can they use credit cards? I’ll cover each of these topics and more so that you’ll have what you need for your next visit to Loreto and beyond.

Currency to Use

Before we get into the currency itself, we should look at the exchange rates. First is the US Dollar to Mexican Peso exchange rate. Next is the Canadian Dollar to the Mexican Peso. Those are the two most common foreign currencies of visitors. You can certainly research the exchange rates for other currencies as needed.

While there are areas of Mexico where the US Dollar is the dominant currency used, that is not the case in Loreto and other parts of Mexico. Here, most everything is priced in pesos. Yes, many businesses will accept US Dollars, but the exchange rate will likely be at least two Pesos lower than the official exchange rate. There are also a handful that accept Canadian Dollars with the same caveat of a poor exchange rate.

Exchanging Currency

If you want to exchange US Dollars or Canadian Dollars, you can do this at various banks, a “Casa de Cambio” and even a handful of retail stores. For those using a bank or Casa de Cambio, be prepared to show a passport and there may be a limit to the total amount they will let you exchange. Because of this limit, it is probably best to use this method sparingly.

Credit Card Usage

While there are many places in Loreto that accept credit cards (tarjeta), there are quite a few that only accept cash (effectivo). If you love your American Express cards as do I, you’ll find only a handful of places that accept it. Visa and Mastercard are the two cards commonly accepted. There are places I’ve experienced in Cabo San Lucas that did not accept cash, only credit cards. My best advice is to always have enough cash for anything you wish to purchase. You can still ask about using a credit card if that is your preferred payment method.

Withdrawing at ATM

There are ATM machines at all banks and at a number of restaurants and retail establishments. Most ATM cards should be supported at these machines. Keep in mind that you may be charged extra fees since the ATM machine is likely outside of your bank’s network.

TIP: Open an investment account at Charles Schwab. You don’t have to buy any investments, just use it as a place to store a little money. They will issue an ATM card and they will reimburse for any ATM fees you incur.

Most of the ATM machines should give you the option of English or Spanish. If you are reading this, you’ll likely want to select English. While the machines dispense pesos, they will sometimes ask if you want the amount taken out in dollars or pesos. Always choose pesos! If you choose dollars, you’ll get a really bad exchange rate and the ATM owner benefits. If you choose pesos, the bank that issued the ATM card will give you the best possible exchange rate.

I hope this information will help you get the most out of your time in Loreto (or Mexico)!

Photo by Eduardo Soares on Unsplash


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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III is the owner of Casa Coburn and lives in Loreto Bay year round. He works from his home in Loreto building powerful WordPress Web sites for clients world wide using the Divi theme.
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