Are you planning to visit Cozumel Mexico soon and wondering if you need dollars or pesos for your trip? You’ve come to the right guide!
I’m a travel blogger that lives in nearby Playa del Carmen, and I’m here to answer all of your questions about the currency in Cozumel and the best ways to pay for things during your trip.
In this post, I’ll explain whether you need dollars or pesos in Cozumel, 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 or cruise ship visitors that want to get the most bang for their buck in Cozumel.
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 Cozumel that much more!
Ready to find out if you need dollars or pesos in Cozumel? Let’s get started!
Do You Need Dollars or Pesos in Cozumel?
US dollars are accepted pretty much everywhere in Cozumel so it’s possible to get by without needing to exchange any money.
However, since the official currency in Cozumel is the Mexican peso (MXN), you’ll typically save money if you pay in pesos.
Now if you’re just visiting Cozumel on a cruise and will only be there for the day, it’s typically more convenient just to stick with US dollars.
But if you’re planning on spending an extended amount of time on the island, then it’s a good idea to get some pesos before your trip.
While credit cards are accepted in many places, you’ll still need cash to pay for taxis, tips, souvenir shopping, and smaller purchases.
Does Cozumel Accept US Dollars?
Yes, US dollars are accepted in Cozumel in most places including restaurants, beach clubs, hotels, and grocery stores. You can even pay for taxis with USD.
Cozumel tourism thrives on cruise ship visitors, so they’ve become used to dealing with American tourists and thus the US dollar is accepted pretty much everywhere.
A lot of the major beach clubs and water parks in Cozumel will even list the prices on their menu in both pesos and USD.
This makes paying in U.S. dollars very easy but keep in mind that each establishment will have their own set exchange rate, which may be worse than the official exchange rate.
So if you really want to save money on your purchases, it’s best to pay in pesos.
Additionally, when paying in United States dollars, you’ll typically receive your change in pesos, which can get confusing if you’re not familiar with the currency.
Can You Use Credit Cards in Cozumel?
Yes, credit cards are widely accepted in Cozumel and you can use them in most restaurants, large stores, hotels, the ferry, and beach clubs.
You’ll just want to make sure to use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. I personally use the Chase Sapphire Preferred card which has tons of great travel perks.
It’s also important to know that the wifi and cellular service in Cozumel can be a little spotty, especially if you’re going to more remote destinations further away from downtown San Miguel de Cozumel.
So, it’s a good idea to have some cash on hand to cover your expenses just in case the credit card terminal is not working.
This has happened to me before when visiting Playa Palancar, as the service there is not the best and I ended up having to pay in cash.
Additionally, taxis in Cozumel do not accept credit cards so you’ll need to carry cash if you’re planning on taking one.
Should You Get Pesos Before Going to Cozumel?
I would recommend getting some pesos before going to Cozumel if you’re planning to spend on extended amount of time on the island.
If you’re only visiting Cozumel on a cruise, then it’s typically more convenient just to stick with US dollars.
If you want to get pesos for Cozumel before you arrive, you can order them from your bank ahead of time.
Or you can always withdraw pesos from an ATM once you arrive in Mexico or change dollars to pesos at Cozumel currency exchange offices.
Just be sure to check with your bank ahead of time to see if they have any fees for international ATM withdrawals or currency exchanges.
What Will You Need Cash for in Cozumel?
While credit cards are widely accepted in Cozumel, you’ll still need to have some cash on hand if you’re planning to explore the island or do some Cozumel activities or shore excursions.
Here are some things you will need cash for in Cozumel:
- Tips for hotel staff at all inclusive resorts
- Tips for tour guides
- Souvenir shopping at local shops
- Local mom-and-pop type restaurants
- Street food and street vendors
- Entrance fees for national parks (like Punta Sur Eco Park)
- Entrance fees for archeological sites (like the San Gervasio Ruins)
How Many Pesos Should You Bring to Cozumel?
Here is a general guideline to give you a rough idea of how much cash to bring to Cozumel:
- Below Average Spending: $20 USD (~$340 pesos) per day
- Average Spending: $40 USD (~$680 pesos) per day
- Above Average Spending: $60+ USD (~$1020 pesos) per day
Note these guidelines are based on how much cash to bring to Mexico for the tips and extras outlined above, assuming you’re using your credit cards for most of your purchases.
Additionally, these amounts are based on a single traveler or a single party that’s traveling together.
If you plan to pay with cash in Mexico exclusively, then you’ll want to bring more money in pesos than the amounts above.
Another important thing to note is that taxis in Cozumel are a little more expensive than other places in Mexico.
So depending on where you’re planning to go on the island, you might want to budget a little more for transportation.
For example, it might cost around $500 pesos (~$25 USD) each way to get to Playa Palancar on the southwestern part of the island.
📱 You can also play around with my Mexico cash calculator. This is a handy tool to give you an estimate of how much cash you’ll need to bring to Mexico depending on the length of your stay and spending habits.
How to Get Pesos for Cozumel
Here are a few options for getting pesos for your trip to Cozumel Mexico:
Order pesos from your bank ahead of time
If you’re someone that likes to plan ahead and have everything ready to go before your trip, then I would recommend ordering pesos from your bank before you leave for Mexico.
While this option takes a bit more time and advance planning, it’s cheaper than exchanging currency at a counter in Mexico once you arrive.
Plus, you won’t have to deal with finding an ATM or currency counter once you get there, which can add stress to your trip.
Most large banks have the option to order foreign currency online or through a mobile app but it typically takes 1-3 business days for delivery.
Withdraw pesos from an ATM in Mexico
If you don’t want to order pesos ahead of time, the quickest and easiest way to get pesos in Mexico is to simply withdraw cash from an ATM once you arrive.
You can find ATM machines in most major tourist spots, hotels, and grocery stores, or even at the airport in Cancun or Cozumel once 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.
Exchange dollars for pesos at a currency exchange counter
The final option for getting pesos is to exchange US dollars for pesos at the airport or a foreign currency exchange counter.
While this is a bit more convenient, I wouldn’t recommend it because it’s typically the most expensive option.
You’ll have access to cash right away but currency exchange counters in Mexico typically have some of the highest conversion rates.
If you really do need to use a currency exchange counter, be sure to check the current exchange rate before deciding whether or not this is the best option for you.
Using ATMs in Cozumel
Here are some tips for withdrawing money from ATMs in Cozumel:
Best ATMs in Cozumel
When using ATMs in Cozumel, it is important to only use an official bank ATM and avoid using any random or unidentified ATM found on the street.
You might find nameless ATMs in the main tourist areas but these are more likely to have card skimmers and hackers that could potentially drain your bank account.
For optimal security, it is best to use official bank ATMs located directly at a local bank or at places such as grocery stores or shopping centers.
In Cozumel, there are many banks and ATMs in the city center, including a Scotiabank and an HSBC about a block away from the ferry terminal.
You can also go to Mega or Chedraui grocery stores, and some of the bigger Cozumel resorts may have bank ATMs in their lobby.
The major banks and ATM locations in Cozumel include:
- BBVA Bancomer
- Scotiabank (partnered with Bank of America)
Before your trip to Mexico, it’s a good idea to check with your bank to see if they have any partnerships with Mexican banks.
Several large banks, including Bank of America, have established partnerships with foreign banks around the world.
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 international ATM usage fee.
However, you will still be charged 3% of the converted US dollar amount that you are withdrawing.
Cozumel ATM Fees
When withdrawing money from ATMs in Cozumel, 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 in local currency 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 (0.0553) = $110.60 USD
- International Transaction Fee: $110.60 x 3% = $3.32 USD
- Total Amount for this Withdrawal: $113.92 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!
Cozumel ATM Conversion Rates
If there’s one thing to remember about using ATMs in Cozumel (and anywhere in Mexico), it’s to always decline the conversion rate offered by the ATM.
When withdrawing money from an ATM, you’ll be prompted to accept or decline the conversion rate offered by that particular ATM–always hit DECLINE!
ATMs always offer terrible exchange rates, which are much higher than what you would get from your bank.
By hitting decline, your financial institution will automatically charge you with the standard conversion rate, which is typically a much better deal.
Using Mexican Currency
Here are some helpful things to know about using the official currency in Mexico:
Mexican Peso Bills
Here’s a rough USD conversion for the Mexican peso denominations 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
Easy Pesos to USD Currency Conversion Trick
If you’re not familiar with paying in Mexican pesos, it can be confusing to figure out exactly how much you’re spending.
However, there is a simple trick to convert pesos to American dollars easily in your head – just take off a zero and divide the price of 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 (especially recently with the peso gaining value) but will give you a rough estimate of how much an item costs.
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!
Cozumel Money Tips
Follow these Cozumel travel tips to save money when it comes when it comes to exchanging currency in Mexico:
- Consider your options when choosing between pesos or USD: When paying at Cozumel restaurants or retail stores, you’ll likely be given the option to pay in pesos or USD (even when paying with a credit card). If you really want to save money, do a quick currency conversion on your phone to see which is the better deal. It used to always be a better deal to pay in pesos but with current exchange rates, it may be cheaper to pay in USD.
- 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 best 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 cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card have no foreign transaction fees so you’ll save money on costly currency exchange fees on your debit card. Plus, credit cards typically have better protections in case of fraud or theft.
- 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: Avoid using random or nameless ATMs, as these are often less secure and can be setup with card skimmers. Withdrawing money from official bank ATMs at banks, grocery stores, or shopping centers is a safer option. Some of the most popular local banks in Cozumel are Scotiabank, Santander, and BBVA.
- 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 is a safety risk in Cozumel and 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.
- Don’t forget to bring cash for tips: If you’re planning to do any of the fun activities in Cozumel like Cozumel jeep tours, snorkeling tours, or ATV adventures, be sure to bring cash to tip the tour guides. It’s customary to tip around 10-15% of the total tour price.
Cozumel Currency: FAQs
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about money and currency in Cozumel Mexico:
Yes, tipping is expected in Cozumel at restaurants and for tour guides. It’s customary to tip around 15% at restaurants. Tour guides can be tipped 10-15% of the total tour price. It is not customary to tip taxi drivers.
Yes, you can use a debit card in Cozumel, however I would recommend using a credit card if possible. Most of the best travel credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card have no foreign transaction fees and offer greater protection in case of fraud or theft.
If you want to be really prepared for your trip, then I would recommend getting pesos from your bank before going to Mexico. But it’s also possible to withdraw pesos from an ATM once you arrive in Mexico or you can exchange dollars for pesos at a currency counter.
No, Uber is currently not available in Cozumel. While legislation was recently passed allowing Uber to operate in the state of Quintana Roo, opposition from local taxi drivers have made it unsafe to try and use Uber in the region.
So if you’re planning on taking taxis in Cozumel, you’ll need to make sure you have enough cash on hand as credit cards are not accepted.
Yes, credit cards are accepted for the Playa del Carmen to Cozumel ferry.
Conclusion: Should I Use Pesos or Dollars in Cozumel?
So should you use pesos or dollars when visiting Cozumel Mexico? I hope this Cozumel Mexico currency guide has helped you to decide which type of currency to use!
For American tourists just visiting Cozumel on a cruise, it’s probably easier to just use USD since you won’t be there for too long and US dollars are accepted pretty much everywhere in Cozumel.
However, if you’re planning on staying in Cozumel for longer than a few days or are traveling around Mexico, I would recommend exchanging bringing pesos.
The official currency of Cozumel is the Mexican peso so you’ll typically save money if you pay in pesos. Plus, it’s a good idea to have pesos on hand for taxis, tipping, and smaller purchases.
Also, be sure to follow the Cozumel money tips listed above to save money when exchanging currency and paying for things in Cozumel.
Now that you know how to handle currency when you travel to Cozumel, you can enjoy your trip without worrying about money!
Money aside, Cozumel is definitely worth visiting and you’re sure to have an amazing time!
🌴 RELATED COZUMEL READING:
- Best Cozumel Water Parks
- How to Visit Punta Sur Cozumel Mexico
- How to Get from Cozumel to Tulum
- Best Jeep Tours in Cozumel Mexico
- Best Cozumel Snorkeling Tours
- Best ATV Tours in Cozumel Mexico
- How to Visit Playa Palancar Cozumel Mexico
- Best Resorts in Cozumel Mexico
- Hotel B Unique Cozumel Review
- Clear Boat Cozumel Review
- Atlantis Submarine Cozumel Review
- Cozumel vs Isla Mujeres
- Cozumel vs Cancun
- Cozumel vs Playa del Carmen
- Best Things to Do in Cozumel Mexico
- The Ultimate San Miguel de Cozumel Mexico Travel Guide
- Is Cozumel Safe? Top Cozumel Safety Tips
- Is Cozumel Worth Visiting?
🇲🇽 Traveling to Mexico soon?
These are the Mexico travel resources I use and recommend:
✈️ Flights: I recommend using Skyscanner for the best Mexico flight deals. Be sure to sign up for their price alerts for your preferred travel dates.
🚗 Rental Cars: I recommend using Discover Cars because you can compare multiple car rental companies and see detailed ratings for overall value, ease of pick-up, efficiency of agents, car condition, and overall time spent.
🚙 Cancun Airport Transportation: I recommend booking a private transfer with Cancun Airport Transportation for the quickest and most hassle-free option!
🤿 Tours & Activities: I always use Viator or GetYourGuide for booking tours and activities in Mexico. You can cancel up to 24 hours before the tour for a full refund, plus they have excellent customer service if you were to have any issues.
🚨 Travel Insurance: After my Dad broke his hand in a taxi accident in Playa del Carmen, I always recommend buying travel insurance before your trip for added peace of mind! I recommend Travel Insurance Master for short trips or Safety Wing for digital nomads.
☀️ Biodegradable Sunscreen: Don’t forget to add biodegradable sunscreen to your Mexico packing list! Regular sunscreen is prohibited when swimming in the ocean and cenotes in Mexico, so you’ll need to pack some biodegradable sunscreen for sun protection. I recommend Sun Bum Sunscreen, which is reef-friendly, vegan, and cruelty-free.