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flyingcrane

Jul 2, 2006, 3:50 PM

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Hello All,
I will be visiting Ajijic in a few weeks, my first time in Mexico. I am looking at Mexican currency and wondering what to get for a typical day in Ajijic. I will want to get lunch and dinner out .. so what does an average lunch and dinner cost in a nice place. It is hard to relate to a centavos when the exchange rate is 11.28 per USD. Since I will be arriving late on a Friday and don't know if there are banks open to do exchanges on Saturday, I would like to exchange some dollars for pesos before arriving to take me through the weekend.
Thanks.
Marie
Marie



Rolly


Jul 2, 2006, 5:07 PM

Post #2 of 23 (4532 views)

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Re: [flyingcrane] money

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You will find lots of ATMs where you will get pesos out of the machine which will charge your bank account for dollars. ATMs usually give the best exchange rates.

Rolly Pirate


Bloviator

Jul 2, 2006, 7:03 PM

Post #3 of 23 (4509 views)

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Re: [flyingcrane] money

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Be sure to check with your bank as to use of your ATM card in Mexico. My sister just left. She did not verify it in advance and could not use her card during her stay.

Worse yet, when she called her bank she was told that they she could not have verified use in Mexico in advance as they are not honoring any ATM usage in Mexico. That is the first time I have heard of anything like that. Hope it doesn't spread.

Many people here do all their banking for local currency through ATMs. Going into a Mexican bank can be a real struggle. ATMs are easy. A half hour line only to be turned away or a couple of minutes at the ATM. Which sounds better?

If you use the ATM, your bank will credit you with whatever exchange rate is current at the time. I just got $4,000 pesos for $351 US. This time last year it was almost $400 for that amount.


(This post was edited by dlyman6500 on Jul 2, 2006, 7:05 PM)


Ron Pickering W3FJW


Jul 2, 2006, 7:14 PM

Post #4 of 23 (4503 views)

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Re: [flyingcrane] money

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But, to answer your original question, figure $15-20/ for meals per day and anywhere from 25 to 75 usd for lodging.
$300 USD ~ 3,000+ pesos should see you through the weekend fairly well. Just think in pesos, centavos is too hard on the mind till you've been there awhile. As the others say, ATMs are prevalent throughout Mexico. If I were arriving late on Fri, I would like to have at least part of my money changing already done just to be safe. I would assume you'll be staying somewhere around the airport (~400 - 800pso) Fri Night & taking a taxi (~200pso) down on Sat.

I would assume there are plenty of ATMs around the airport. Make sure you take a "legal" taxi from the airport. i.e. buy a taxi ticket & have them direct you to the taxis. Don't hail one on the street. Especially at night.
Getting older and still not down here.

(This post was edited by Ron Pickering W3FJW on Jul 2, 2006, 7:17 PM)


Bloviator

Jul 3, 2006, 5:15 AM

Post #5 of 23 (4462 views)

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Re: [Ron Pickering W3FJW] money

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There are ATMs in the airport. One is about in the middle of the airport on the street side right next to one of the exits.

If you have $$ and want to exchange them, it will cost you a little in exchange rate (very little unless you exchange a lot of cash), but there are also places at the airport to exchange your money.

As Ron points out, unless you need cash for lodging, you should be able to get by with a couple of thousand pesos for the first day ($3,000 pesos for the weekend). His food cost estimates, I assume are per person. They also can vary quite a bit depending on where you eat and if you include wine or deserts. A couple can have a nice dinner in a very good place like Pedro's for about $40 US with wine and desert.

If you stay near the airport the first night, the cost of your room will likely be somewhat more than he has mentioned, though Ajijic rates are as he indicates. The airport hotel rates are (I believe) over $100 per night. There a couple of hotels nearby that I don't know anything about, but think they are of the no-tell motel variety.


(This post was edited by dlyman6500 on Jul 3, 2006, 5:23 AM)


flyingcrane

Jul 3, 2006, 1:36 PM

Post #6 of 23 (4410 views)

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Re: [dlyman6500] money

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Hi,
Thanks for all of the information. I will be staying the week at Casa De Los Tres Leones and a pick up at the airport comes with the room rate. I will be paying the room with travelers checks. So, that just leaves meals etc for the weekend or for an additional few days. In that case it looks like the best thing to do is to get some 20 peso bills and maybe some peso coins for tips etc. - 10's and 20's peso coins for tips do you think? I will probably try to get them at the bank here before I leave, but if the exchange rate is better there I will wait to exchange much more than that. Also, good advise about the ATM card but I was thinking to take all of the cash I would need for my stay in travel checks. If it is not easy to cash travel checks for pesos then I would need to rethink the plan a bit.
Marie
Marie


Marlene


Jul 3, 2006, 2:05 PM

Post #7 of 23 (4403 views)

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Re: [flyingcrane] money

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There is a helpful little wallet sized cheat-sheet for converting foreign money amounts which I've used when traveling abroad.

http://www.oanda.com/convert/cheatsheet

Pull it up on the computer, find your currency and that of the country you are traveling to, click "get my cheat-sheet", print the page and then click on " reverse cheat-sheet" and print that page also. Cut the wallet sized cheat-sheets out and attach them back to back. Very useful when shopping and bargaining.


esperanza

Jul 3, 2006, 2:13 PM

Post #8 of 23 (4398 views)

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Re: [flyingcrane] money

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Marie, have you checked with the B&B about whether they will accept traveler's checks or not? Most do not.

Traveler's checks are extremely difficult to use at Lake Chapala. Most businesses won't accept them. The only bank in town may or may not exchange them for pesos; at times they have refused and at times they have accepted. SuperLake (a supermarket to the east of Ajijic, in San Antonio Tlayacapan) will accept them, but the exchange rate is less than attractive. The casa de cambio on the Ajijic plaza will exchange them, but again, the exchange rate is less than attractive.

Most folks find that their best bet is to leave their cash in their home bank and withdraw the money they need from any ATM. In Ajijic, there's an ATM open 24 hours at the bank, one at Farmacia Guadalajara, and others scattered around town. The exchange rate through your bank via the ATM is usually the most favorable rate you'll find anywhere.

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Gayla

Jul 3, 2006, 3:09 PM

Post #9 of 23 (4385 views)

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Re: [flyingcrane] money

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Hi Marie

Mexican money is really pretty easy to use. The coins you'll see most often are $1, $5 and $10, the "$" being pesos not dollars. Since there are currently around 11+ pesos per 1 US dollar (also frequently written USD) that means a $1 peso coin is worth about a dime, the $5 coin about fity cents and the $10 peso coin about a dollar. The denomination - 1, 5, 10 , etc - will be on one side of the coin and a symbol on the other. So, if you want to tip a bell boy $1 USD per bag for helping you, you could give him a $10 peso coin for each bag, or any combination of coins. I have learned to love the $10 peso coin :-), it's really quite handy. I am far less enamored of the $1 peso coin.

As for bills, they also come in an assortment of demonimations and sizes. The most common ones are $10, $20, $50, $100, $200, $500, $1,000. And as you will probably find out quick enough, you'll want to carry primarily the small bills. Not because of a risk to personal safety. No, you'll find almost no one can make change for the big bills. It's been my experience that the $200 bill and below are the ones for which almost everyone can make change, although some vendors/shops even have a problem with the $200 peso bill, which is about the same as a $20 in the U.S.

Most ATMs will give you an assortment of smaller bills, but I have gotten $500 peso bills from ATMs and they're a royal pain to try and break. I will second, third, and fourth the recommendations to use ATMs; they are abundant, convienent and safe. Every Mexican airport into which I've ever flown (6 of them in the last 2 years) has had at least 1 ATM, but more likely multiple ATMS, some of which are were even bilingual. If you can use an ATM in the States, you can use on in Mexico, they operate exactly the same way and in the same sequence of steps, with only one difference. The withdrawal amounts are in pesos, not dollars, and since pesos are shown using the same "$" glyph you have to remind yourself it's pesos, not dollars. If the Mexican ATM gives $250 as a withdrawal option, it's 250 pesos, or about $25. If it offers $3,000 as an option, that's about $300 USD. I know it sounds confusing, but once you make a handful of purchases or payments you'll probably find using Mexican money isn't as hard as you think.


flyingcrane

Jul 3, 2006, 3:42 PM

Post #10 of 23 (4376 views)

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Re: [esperanza] money

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Hi,
Yes, thanks .. I have emailed with Mary Moore at the 3 Lions B & B and travel checks are okay.

And THANKS to everyone for all of the information I love you all. I did speak with my bank and am noted on my ATM card for withdrawals in MX during the dates of my trip. So, I will take all of your advice and use that for daily expenses and bring enough pesos to get through the weekend. (I have printed out some of the more detailed responses to study before going .. especially about tipping).
Thanks again.
Marie
Marie


esperanza

Jul 3, 2006, 4:28 PM

Post #11 of 23 (4368 views)

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Re: [Gayla] money

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Dep't of Nitpicking here: there is no 10 peso bill, but there are 20 peso coins.

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Gayla

Jul 3, 2006, 5:12 PM

Post #12 of 23 (4357 views)

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Re: [esperanza] money

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Nitpick all you want :-D.

I'm not sure I've ever seen a $20 peso coin, but jeez, ya know, I could have sworn I've seen a $10 peso bill. I guess it must have been that $10 peso bill I saw on the floor of Hussong's Cantina in Ensenada ;-}


Ed and Fran

Jul 3, 2006, 5:41 PM

Post #13 of 23 (4351 views)

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Re: [Gayla] money

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There used to be $10 peso bills, green, very similar to the $200's. They went out of circulation more than 8 years ago.

$20 peso coins aren't real common, but look a lot like $10 peso coins, just bigger. They are in circulation. I usually get about one per month in the normal course of things.

Regards

Ed & Fran


Marlene


Jul 3, 2006, 9:33 PM

Post #14 of 23 (4323 views)

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Re: [Ed and Fran] money

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There are $100.00 peso coins in circulation too, I received one the other day....they are rather large and clunky and you would have to have your belt done tightly if you were to carry more than a couple of those in your pockets.


Bloviator

Jul 4, 2006, 5:22 AM

Post #15 of 23 (4302 views)

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Re: [Marlene] money

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How difficult is it to get smaller bills or coins from a bank? As my experiences with Mexican banks has been 100% negative in recent years, I have not even set foot into one since moving here. I end up with lots of $500 peso notes as that is what is given out by the ATMs that I use. It is hard to get them changed.

If I were to go into a bank, stand in the interminable line, and present a couple of $500 peso notes, would I be received warmly and given smaller denominations, or would I likely be shuffled from long line to long line and finally given money or would I be sent packing with no help?


esperanza

Jul 4, 2006, 5:55 AM

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Re: [dlyman6500] money

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When I have received 500 peso notes from the bank ATM in Ajiijc, I've simply gone into the bank and asked for them to be exchanged for smaller bills. I've never been refused.

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(This post was edited by esperanza on Jul 4, 2006, 5:56 AM)


Rolly


Jul 4, 2006, 6:06 AM

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I get 500s all the time from my ATM. I spend them at most of the places I frequent -- the grocery store, OXXO, Sam's, Pemex, my pollo al carbon place, my carnitas place, and get them changed at the bank. Sometimes I feel a little foolish buying a Coke at OXXO with a 500, but they don't seem to care, so why should I?

Rolly Pirate


esperanza

Jul 4, 2006, 6:24 AM

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Re: [Rolly] money

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The other day I went to get several documents copied at a place in downtown GDL that only makes copies (as opposed to a papelería with a copying machine). There was a long line in front of me. When my turn came, I gave the clerk my documents, received my copies, and handed over a 100 peso note. The clerk's face fell. "Ay señora, ¡me hubiera dicho! No tengo cambio por un billete así de grande." (Oh, you should have told me! I don't have change for a bill this large.) And I had no other bills or coins with me. I told her I would go out and try to find someone to change the bill, and failing that, I would be back the following day with correct change. She gave me a look that said, yeah, right. Fortunately I remembered that I had a few coins in the car and went back immediately to settle my debt.

Rolly, you're lucky to be able to pay for small purchases with a large bill.

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Bloviator

Jul 4, 2006, 6:24 AM

Post #19 of 23 (4289 views)

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Re: [Rolly] money

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It's true. There is an art to getting rid of $500 and $200 bills. Certain places are likely to have change. Others aren't and it's important to have small amounts to help them out and to do business with them. I'm sure it's a real drag for the small business person to have to run all over the neighborhood to get change when I want to buy an item that costs 5 pesos. I try to have small denominations for such events, but it is hard sometimes, particularly just after visiting the ATM.

Another problem is having change to give the grocery bagger and similar persons. If I have no 10 peso or 5 peso coins, I just stiff them. I feel bad doing so, but what can I do?


Ed and Fran

Jul 4, 2006, 6:51 AM

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Re: [dlyman6500] money

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How difficult is it to get smaller bills or coins from a bank?


I can't vouch for your banks or how things are where you are, but over here we do it all the time. Any time we start getting low on ten peso coins, or 20 or 50 peso notes, we stop into one of the branches of my bank (not that they know us) and change two or three 200 peso notes into 10's, 20's and 50's.


Regards

Ed & Fran


jerezano

Jul 4, 2006, 9:42 AM

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Re: [flyingcrane] money

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Hello flyingcrane, (Marie)

Whoops!!!!

Somehow you have got the wrong impression. Unless the Casa de los Tres Leones is an Amerian Plan---everything included--- type of hotel, you will need a lot more money than a few 20 pesos bills and some coins.

First of all just to simplify things assume that the exchange rate is 10 pesos to one dollar. It is currently 11.15 where I am but let's make things simple. A 200 pesos bill is then worth $20 us dollars. Figure for your spending out of pocket at least $100 dollars a day. After all, you are a tourist, and that is a reasonable figure for meals, souvenirs, spur of the moment purchases, etc. That would be more than 1,000 pesos/day.

I would suggest you plan on that 1000 pesos a day figure and get bills in 100 and 200 peso sizes. They will be easily exchanged anywhere. In off tourist locations 500 peso bills may be hard to change.

Your big problem will probably be tipping. Minimum tips in the USA are $1 a person. I would suggest here 5 pesos (a bit more than 50 cents), but if you are in a tourist area that will appear niggardly. I would also suggest no more than 10% of the bill, as that bill includes a 15% value added tax. And why should you tip on a tax? Still, that will probably go against your ingrained feelings after living in the US for so long.

Traveler's checks are a bad idea. You will find, except in heavily touristed areas, that traveler's checks will not be accepted and you will need to go to a bank to get them exchanged.

On ATM's the norm seems to be a $3000 pesos withdrawal as maximum for one transaction. Some ATM's will permit 3 such withdrawals per day. Others definitely not.

Enjoy México. Bienvenido. Adios. jerezano.


jerezano

Jul 4, 2006, 9:46 AM

Post #22 of 23 (4252 views)

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Re: [Ed and Fran] money

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Hello,

There are 5 10 20 and 50 peso coins. I have seen and used them all. I am also told there is a 100 peso coin which I have never seen.

Adios. jerezano.


RickS


Jul 4, 2006, 2:58 PM

Post #23 of 23 (4222 views)

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Re:Traveler's Checks

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I think the information given about traveler's checks is good (don't depend on using them much of anywhere!), but IMHO they can have a place in one's 'financial' dealings. When I come down for stays of a month or two, I always bring some if for nothing else as a back-up, and because they are safer than having all cash. And I once had my ATM debit card rejected mid-stay although I had successfully been using it and my bank had been notified I would be in Mexico using it. So having the checks to fall back on was a blessing.

With respect to the exchange rate, I've used the casa de cambio at the Ajijic plaza often and I've used SuperLake. While there is a difference in the exchange rate at each of them between cash and checks (twice within the last 2 weeks the casa was exchanging at 11.28 for cash and 11.23 for checks, a difference of 50 cents in $100US), the 'safety' feature of checks makes them valuable to me. I haven't used SuperLake this time, but in the past my experience is that their rates, while a little better for cash than checks, are sometimes actually better than the casa or the bank. My understand is that the owner does this because he needs US $'s for his purchases NOB. That's just my experience and I'm definitely not here to test that theory year 'round.

So to flyingcrane, since Mary Ann will take your traveler's checks for your stay at the (gorgeous) B&B, I'd not hesitate considering using checks for your other 'cash' needs.... just exchange them at the casa de cambio on the plaza. You'll need your passport. If they initially give you the larger 500 or 200 pesos bills, just smile and ask courteously for some smaller denominations, por favor. It always works for me there.
 
 
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