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dollars vs pesos vs credit card

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Eugene, Oregon
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dollars vs pesos vs credit card

I am planning a trip to Mazatlan for February 2006. I have been reading the posts here about exchange rates. I was thinking I would use my credit card to withdraw pesos from an atm, but my credit card company charges for atm withdrawals as well as a foreign currency conversion fee.

Now I am wondering if I should just bring cash to convert to pesos as I need it?

Anyone have any experience on which is the best way to go? thanks

Quilcene, Washington
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1. Re: dollars vs pesos vs credit card

Either will work,make sure you keep any large amounts of cash in the hotels safe not the one in your room but the one behind the checkin desk. We use credit cards & ATMs since they are so quick & easy.

Mazatlán, Sin...
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2. Re: dollars vs pesos vs credit card

If you have an ATM (debit) card, that's the way to go. Next choice, credit card, but the fees from your bank are probably a little higher than for a debit card. You can avoid fees altogether if you have a Bank of America debit card and only use it at a Banco Santander Serfin ATM machine.

Even if you have to pay a fee when using your debit card, if you draw out the maximum, usually $5000 MXN, you'll find that the exchange rate is slightly better than for cash or traveler's checks.

Third choice, American Express traveler's checks. They are the only ones universally accepted. You probably should have a few of these anyway, just in case.

Fourth choice, cash in USD. Taken everywhere, but the exchange rate will vary widely. At a bank it will come close to the ATM (debit) card rate.

Mazatlan
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3. Re: dollars vs pesos vs credit card

Agree with Mazbook. I have my bank account in the States and get all my cash from an ATM. Get enough of a better exchange rate to offset the bank charge for use of the ATM. You still have time to get an ATM card before you leave.

Alberta, Can.
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4. Re: dollars vs pesos vs credit card

We have used debit card at ATM but find taking out larger amounts of cash on credit card better than any other way. Even though we pay the Cross border fee(we are from Canada) we get the best rate. We then go on the computer and transfer funds from account to pay credit card so as not to pay interest on cash withdrawel more than we have to. Rates are real good for us Canadians right now. That way we pay for everything in cash pesos. USD taken everywhere too. Don't bring any more cash than you need to get started.

British Columbia
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5. Re: dollars vs pesos vs credit card

I did an experiment when last down in Maz - this was 4 years ago so things may have changed:

my friend took down travellers cheques in Canadian Currency. She went into the banco to get pesos and I withdrew pesos from the ATM. When I checked the exchange at home and including the service fee my bank charged - we were definately better off withdrawing pesos than taking travellers cheques down.

However, we never did the pre-pay credit card route so cannot comment on that.

Edmonton, Canada
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6. Re: dollars vs pesos vs credit card

Heads Up!

Make sure you go to your bank before you leave home and ask the bank to check that you bank card is set-up for international use. Not all bank cards are automatically set for international use. If your card is not set, you are out of luck when you try to use the ATM. Most banks set the international card to access only 1 account (checking).

Mazatlan
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7. Re: dollars vs pesos vs credit card

Good point! It is always good to notify your credit card/debit card people when you are traveling internationally. The card companies see a red flag when someone is charging in different places in foreign countries and sometimes stop payment so that you will contact them. We have forgotten twice and been denied in Sam's both times. Frankly, we appreciate the credit card companies vigilance--even if it is an inconvenience sometimes.

Newcastle
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8. Re: dollars vs pesos vs credit card

I normally bring Traveler's Checks and cash them at the "Cambio" .

What is the rate of exchange at them?

How does it compare with Banks?

Ontario
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9. Re: dollars vs pesos vs credit card

Discover:

Every time you use a third party to exchange your money, the rate will reflect their mark-up. Sometimes it is buried very deeply, like the credit card company will include it in the exchange rate and you will never notice it!

By far the best is a bank card, or debit card. Just one organization involved, a bank, and sometimes if you can find the right machine...bingo. Credit cards by definition will charge you the moment you withdraw cash. Traveller checks are fine, but someone is taking a cut.

We rely on ATM's. I suppose if the worst came to the worst, and it didn't work, the internet would get me in contact with my banks pretty quickly. (I travel with two cards from two different banks)

But when all is said and done, the charges on money exchanges are usually trivial compared to your overall vacation costs, so don't sweat it!