Jul 31, 2003, 9:24 AM
Post #8 of 38
I have found that not all credit cards have the same exchange rate for international use. One of mine charges a 2% fee on top of the 1% fee that Mastercharge puts on foreign exchange. (I am not talking cash advances, just ordinary charges). You can call the company before you leave to find out their policy.
My credit union ATM/debit card works very well, has a good rate of exchange, so I use it to get cash and to pay hotel bills etc.
I used to carry a couple of hundred in US cash and also traveler's checks. No more, now I depend on the ATMs, much simpler, less hassle, better exchange rates, etc. I might carry $100 US cash as a backup, but figure not to use it. The last time I used traveler's checks was probably 10 foreign trips ago.
I usually bring two cards to mexico, both ATM usable. My favorite card goes in my wallet, and I keep the other one with my passport. The second card often ends up in the hotel safe. I have my spouse carry one credit card in her purse, again as a backup.
Always carry some pesos, at least 300 pesos. Like in the USA, the less expensive places do not take credit cards, you need cash for taxis, etc.
If you are in a high crime area, like Mexico City, some people will carry their cash for the day in an easy-to-see wallet, maybe including some no longer usable credit cards, kind of an expendable wallet, while keeping their real credit cards and more cash in a hidden place, or the hotel safe.
You will not get that good an exchange rate on dollars at a shop or hotel. Some money exchanges charge extra fees, but that is usually in a tourist area. Most money exchanges have a posted rate in the window, if there are two rates you will get the worse of the two, they make their money on the spread. That is how to tell the good money exchanges from the bad, if the spread between buy and sell is large (10% or more), avoid that money exchange.