Do You Need Pesos in Cancun? Cancun Currency Guide for 2023
Are you traveling to Cancun soon and wondering if you need pesos for your trip? You’ve come to the right guide!
I’m a travel blogger that lives in Playa del Carmen, just south of Cancun, and I’m here to answer all of your questions about the currency in Cancun and the best ways to pay for things during your trip.
In this post, I’ll explain whether or not you need pesos in Cancun, as well as answer some common FAQs about the currency, payment options, ATMs, and tipping customs.
Plus I’ll share some money-saving tips for travelers that want to get the most bang for their buck in Cancun.
Trying to navigate the currency in a foreign country can be a challenge, but with these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to save money and enjoy your trip to Cancun that much more!
Ready to find out if you need pesos in Cancun? Let’s get started!
Planning a trip to Mexico? Use my favorite travel resources!
🏨 Hotels: Expedia or Booking.com
✈️ Flights: Skyscanner
🚗 Rental Cars: Discover Cars
🤿 Tours & Activities: Viator
🚨 Travel Insurance: Travel Insurance Master
Do you need pesos in Cancun?
Not necessarily. US dollars are accepted pretty much everywhere in Cancun so it’s possible to get by without having pesos.
However, if you want to get the best bang for your buck and save money on your trip, it’s a good idea to use pesos instead.
This is because you’ll almost always get a better currency exchange rate when using Mexican pesos compared to US dollars.
Paying in pesos can actually amount to quite a bit of savings, considering you will lose a little bit of money with the conversion rate on every transaction you make in Cancun.
Just think about all of the possible transactions you might make while on vacation, from food and drinks, to taxis and transportation costs, to souvenirs and activities – all of these additional expenses can add up quickly!
Additionally, it’s a good idea to have some pesos on hand if you plan to leave the Cancun Hotel Zone and main tourist areas and explore the areas outside of Cancun.
In the less touristy areas, it’s always easier to pay for things in pesos instead of having to deal with complicated currency conversions.
Official Currency in Cancun Mexico
Here’s what to know about using the official currency in Mexico:
What’s the official currency in Cancun?
The official currency in Cancun is the Mexican peso (MXN). Most things will be priced in pesos, whether you’re out shopping or dining at restaurants.
However, since Cancun is such a popular tourist destination for Americans, pretty much all establishments also accept US dollars.
The MXN-USD exchange rate fluctuates daily but has hovered around 20 pesos per dollar for the past few years.
👉 Check the official MXN-USD conversion rate by clicking here!
Easy Pesos to USD Currency Conversion Trick
If you’re not familiar with paying in pesos, it can be confusing to figure out exactly how much you’re spending.
However, there is a simple trick to convert your pesos to dollars easily in your head – just take off a zero and divide the price on the item by 2!
For example, if something is $500 pesos, you would take off a zero ($50) and divide the amount by 2 to get to a value of around $25 USD.
Of course, this is not an exact value but will give you a rough estimate of how much an item costs, which can help you keep track of your budget and spending.
Alternatively, you can pull out the calculator on your phone or use a currency converter app to get the exact value.
💵 Easy MXN-USD Currency Conversion Trick: Take off a zero and divide by 2!
Mexican Peso Bills
Here’s a rough USD conversion for the Mexican peso bills to give you an idea of the value of money:
- $10 peso coin = ~$.50 USD
- $50 peso bill = ~$2.50 USD
- $100 peso bill = ~$5 USD
- $200 peso bill = ~$10 USD
- $500 peso bill = ~$25 USD
- $1000 peso bill =~$50 USD
Does Cancun accept US dollars?
Yes, US dollars are accepted pretty much everywhere in Cancun, from restaurants and bars to stores and hotels.
While dollars are accepted in Cancun, you’ll get the best exchange rate by using pesos instead.
If you choose to pay in dollars, you’ll be subject to the establishment’s chosen exchange rate, which is typically worse than the official exchange rate.
How to Get Pesos for Cancun
Here’s where to get pesos in Cancun:
Withdraw money from the ATM once you arrive
The best way to get pesos in Cancun is to simply withdraw cash from an ATM once you arrive. You can find ATM machines in most major tourist areas, or even at the Cancun Airport when you land.
While your bank might charge a fee for withdrawing money from foreign ATMs, it will typically be cheaper compared to using currency exchange services or a commission-based money exchange counter.
Scroll to the next section for lots more info on using ATMs in Cancun!
Order pesos from your bank before you arrive
If you’re someone that likes to plan ahead and have everything ready to go before your trip, you might want to consider ordering pesos from your bank before you leave for Cancun.
While this option will cost a bit more than simply withdrawing money once you arrive in Mexico, it’s still cheaper than exchanging currency in Cancun once you arrive.
Plus, you won’t have to deal with finding an ATM once you get there, which can add stress to your vacation.
Most banks have the option to order foreign currency online or through a mobile app but it typically takes 1-3 business days for delivery.
Exchange USD for pesos at the Cancun Airport or currency exchange center
The final option for getting pesos in Cancun is to exchange US dollars for pesos at the Cancun Airport or a foreign currency exchange center.
While this is the most convenient way to get pesos, it’s typically the most expensive option.
You’ll have access to cash right away but the Cancun Airport currency exchange counters typically have some of the highest conversion rates.
And even currency exchange houses outside of the airport will usually overcharge you for their services, so it’s best to avoid taking this route if possible.
Be sure to check the current exchange rate before deciding whether or not this is the best option for you.
Using ATMs in Cancun
Here are some tips for withdrawing money from ATMs in Cancun:
Best ATMs in Cancun
When using ATMs in Cancun, you’ll want to avoid using just any random ATM on the street.
You might find random ATMs in the main tourist areas but these are known to have card skimmers and hackers that can drain your bank account if you’re not careful.
Instead, be sure to use more official ATMs directly at a bank or places like grocery stores or shopping malls for maximum security. You can even find bank ATMs in many Oxxo convenience stores.
The most popular banks and ATM locations in Cancun include:
- BBVA Bancomer
- Scotiabank (partnered with Bank of America)
Before your trip, it’s a good idea to check with your bank to see if they have any partnerships with banks in Mexico.
Many major banks, such as Bank of America, have bank partnerships with foreign banks, which means you might be able to avoid usage or transaction fees if you use an ATM from one of these partner banks.
If your bank does have a partnership with a Mexican bank, you will likely be able to withdraw money without a usage fee.
However, there is typically still an international withdrawal fee that is a small percentage of the total withdrawal amount.
For example, Bank of America has a partnership with Scotiabank in Mexico. This means you can withdraw money from a Scotiabank ATM in Mexico and avoid a $5 USD usage fee.
However, you will still be charged 3% of the converted US dollar amount that you are withdrawing.
ATM Withdrawal Fees
When withdrawing money from ATMs in Mexico, you will likely be charged a usage fee and/or an international transaction fee that will be a small percentage of the total amount you take out.
Let’s say you are a Bank of America customer and you were to withdraw $2,000 pesos from a Scotiabank ATM in Mexico.
Here’s an example of the cost breakdown:
- Usage Fee: $5 USD (waived) = $0 USD
- Currency Conversion: $2000 MXN at BOA Conversion Rate (0.0484) = $96.80 USD
- International Transaction Fee: $96.80 x 3% = $2.90 USD
- Total Amount for this Withdrawal: $99.70 USD
If you weren’t to use a Scotiabank ATM, then you would be charged the $5 usage fee in addition. This can add up depending on how many times you visit the ATM!
ATM Conversion Rates
If there’s one thing to remember about using ATMs in Mexico, it’s to always decline the conversion rate offered by the ATM.
When withdrawing money, you’ll be prompted to accept or decline the conversion rate offered by the ATM – hit DECLINE!
ATMs always offer terrible exchange rates, which are much higher than what you would get from your bank.
By hitting decline, your bank will automatically charge you with the standard conversion rate, which is typically a much better deal.
Do you need pesos for an all inclusive in Cancun?
No, if you don’t plan to leave the resort, you don’t need pesos for an all inclusive in Cancun.
Additional resort purchases can be placed on the credit card attached to the room reservation and any tips can be made in US dollars.
However, if you plan to leave your Cancun resort or would like to have some local currency on hand for smaller purchases, it’s a good idea to get a small amount of pesos before your trip.
Additionally, there are plenty of ATMs in Cancun where you can easily withdraw cash if needed.
🏝 Related Reading: Where to Stay in Cancun
Is it better to exchange money in Cancun?
No, it’s not always better to exchange money in Cancun – the best way to get the most value for your money is to use an ATM.
ATMs in Mexico typically offer much better rates for currency conversion than what you can find at a Mexican currency exchange booth, so be sure to withdraw cash directly from an ATM instead.
Money exchange booths are available to exchange money quickly, but will be the most expensive option for currency conversion.
Can you use a credit card in Cancun?
Yes, you can use a credit card in Cancun for purchases at larger establishments like restaurants, stores, and hotels.
You’ll want to use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees for the best value. Generally, Visa, American Express, and Mastercard cards are accepted.
💳 I personally use and recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which has no foreign transaction fees and great perks for international travel.
Always use a credit card as opposed to a debit card, as debit cards usually have a foreign transaction fee for every purchase.
However, it’s important to note that some smaller businesses only accept cash since there is often a fee associated with using credit cards.
For example, you’ll need cash to pay for taxis, souvenir stalls, street vendors, and local food stands.
Additionally, some places (like spas or salons) may also charge an additional surcharge if you are paying with a credit card – be sure to ask beforehand if the cost of your purchase will be higher with a credit card.
Overall, most major credit cards will work in Cancun but it’s best to come prepared with both cash and at least one credit or debit card just in case.
Tipping in Cancun
Here are a few guidelines for how to tip in Cancun:
Tipping at All-Inclusive Resorts in Cancun
Tipping at all inclusive resorts in Cancun is not required, but is always appreciated.
If you receive outstanding service, feel free to leave an additional tip for servers, bartenders, entertainment staff, or housekeeping.
There is no standard amount for a tip at an all inclusive resort, but whatever you feel is reasonable for the level of service received.
And if you want to have the best service during your trip, it’s not a bad idea to start the week by tipping a little extra to ensure that you’ll receive the same high level of service throughout your stay.
Tipping at Restaurants in Cancun
As a general rule, it’s recommended that you leave 10-15% of your total bill as a tip for restaurant wait staff when dining in Mexico. Of course, higher tips are expected in major tourist destinations like Cancun.
When paying with a credit card at a restaurant, the server will generally bring the credit card machine to your table, where you’ll be asked for the tip amount.
You can just say 15% (or the desired percentage) and this amount will automatically be added to your bill so you won’t have to worry about calculating the tip amount yourself.
It’s also important to know that automatic gratuities are illegal in Cancun, but some restaurants still choose to add them anyways. Always be sure to review the bill carefully for any unexpected charges.
Tipping Taxi Drivers in Cancun
It is not common practice to tip taxi drivers in Cancun so you can feel comfortable just paying the exact amount for the fare.
However, if you’re feeling generous or if the driver helped with your luggage or went out of their way to get you to your destination faster, then you can leave a small tip.
Tipping Tour Guides in Cancun
Tipping tour guides and drivers in Cancun is expected, and tips are typically between 5-10% of the total cost of the tour.
If you feel like your guide went above and beyond during your Cancun or Riviera Maya excursion, it’s fine to tip a bit more at your discretion. Many tour guides make a living off of tips, so they will be grateful for your generosity.
You’ll want to have cash on hand for tips when going on a tour, and these can be paid in pesos or United States dollars.
Cancun Travel Tips to Save Money
Want to save money on your trip to Cancun? Here are a few Cancun tips to help you keep costs down:
- When given the option, pay in pesos: When paying at restaurants or stores in Cancun, you’ll likely be given the option to pay in pesos or USD (even when paying with a credit card). Always choose pesos, as you’ll get a better exchange rate.
- Decline the currency conversion rate at the ATM: When withdrawing cash from an ATM, you’ll be asked if you want to accept the ATM’s currency conversion rate. Always decline this option and instead you’ll be charged at the official exchange rate from your bank.
- Use a credit card instead of a debit card: If you’re going to be paying with a card, it’s best to use a credit card instead of your debit card. Many travel credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card have no foreign transactions so you’ll save money on costly currency conversion fees on your debit card. Plus, credit cards typically have better protections if something goes wrong with your purchase.
- Check with your bank to see if they have any partnerships with banks in Mexico: If your bank has a partnership with a Mexican bank, you can likely avoid added ATM fees when using your debit card to withdraw money in Mexico.
- Only use official bank ATMs: Do your best to avoid using non-bank ATMs, as these are often less secure and setup with card skimmers. Withdrawing money from bank ATMs at grocery stores or shopping centers is a safer option. Some of the most popular local banks in Cancun are Scotiabank, Santander, Bancomer, and Banorte.
- Don’t carry large amounts of cash: It’s best to only carry the amount of cash that you need for your daily expenses in case of theft. Flaunting large amounts of cash can make you a target for theft or getting ripped off. It’s also a good idea to keep a backup credit or debit card (and some cash) in the hotel safe in case anything happens to your primary card.
Cancun Currency: FAQs
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about using money in Cancun:
According to the current exchange rate, 1 USD is roughly equal to 19 pesos.
Not necessarily. US dollars are accepted at most establishments so it’s possible to get by without pesos.
However, it’s a good idea to have pesos on hand for smaller purchases or if you plan to visit less touristy areas.
Plus, you’ll almost always get a better exchange rate when paying in pesos as opposed to dollars.
It’s best to use pesos in Cancun. You can use USD almost anywhere, but you’ll typically get a better exchange rate in Cancun if you pay in pesos.
It’s best to use a credit card in Cancun if you have a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. This can alleviate the need for cash and save you money compared to using a debit card.
However, it’s also a good idea to have cash on hand for places where credit cards are not accepted like taxis, food stalls, souvenir shops, and tipping.
The best currency to take to Cancun is Mexican pesos (MXN) as this is the official currency of the country and will save you money when paying for purchases.
However, U.S. dollars are also widely accepted, so it’s possible to use dollars when traveling in Cancun.
Just keep in mind that you will typically lose money on conversion rates if you’re paying in dollars, so it’s generally best to stick with pesos if you want to save money.
It’s best not to bring large amounts of cash to Mexico as it is a safety risk. However, you’ll want to have some cash on hand for small expenses, taxi rides, local food joints, and tips.
🚨 Do you need travel insurance for Mexico? Yes! Most insurance plans in your home country will not cover incidents abroad. I recommend using Travel Insurance Master, which is a handy travel insurance marketplace where you can compare policies. Get a FREE quote by clicking here!
Conclusion: Do I Need Pesos in Cancun?
I hope this guide has helped you to understand the currency situation in Cancun and take some of the stress out of your travel planning.
Overall, using US dollars or pesos in Cancun depends on your personal preferences and needs.
US dollars are widely accepted at most stores and local restaurants, but it’s best to have some pesos on hand to take advantage of the favorable conversion rate, and for smaller purchases.
If you’re on a budget, using pesos can help you save money on everything from souvenir shopping to transportation, lodging, and dining.
But if you’re not concerned about losing a few dollars on conversion fees, then you can simply use your American dollars in Cancun.
If you do decide to use pesos in Cancun, the best way to get pesos is to withdraw money from an official bank ATM once you arrive.
Just remember to always decline the currency conversion rate offered by the ATM – it will be much worse than your bank’s!
Credit cards are also a great option for making payments in Cancun, but it’s important to choose a card with no foreign transaction fees like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
No matter which payment option you choose, just have some cash on hand in case of any unforeseen emergencies, and enjoy your trip to Cancun!