Riviera Maya Currency

Riviera Maya Currency Guide for Travel in 2023

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Planning a trip to Mexico and wondering what the Riviera Maya currency is and the best ways to pay for things during your vacation? You’ve come to the right guide!

As a travel blogger that lives in Playa del Carmen, I’m here to help you understand the basics of money management in Riviera Maya so that you can have a stress-free and enjoyable vacation.

In this Riviera Maya currency guide, I’ll explain the official currency used in Riviera Maya, whether or not you need to bring pesos with you, and provide some tips on using ATMs and managing money while traveling.

So if you’re wondering if you need dollars or pesos in Riviera Maya and exactly how much money to bring along, I’ve got you covered in this comprehensive currency guide!

Ready to learn how to safely and securely manage your money in Riviera Maya? Let’s get started!

What Currency is Used in Riviera Maya Mexico?

The official currency used in Riviera Maya (and all of Mexico) is the Mexican Peso (MXN). However, you’ll find that US dollars are widely accepted, particularly in tourist areas.

You may even find that some restaurants and shops will display prices in both pesos and US dollars and accept payments with either currency.

What is the Best Currency to Take to Riviera Maya?

The best currency to take to Riviera Maya is the Mexican Peso (MXN), as it’s the official currency of the country.

While US dollars are widely accepted in Riviera Maya, you’ll often get better exchange rates and prices when paying with pesos.

A pile of Mexican peso bills and coins, the best currency for Riviera Maya

Does Riviera Maya Accept US Dollars?

Yes, US dollars are widely accepted in Riviera Maya at restaurants, beach clubs, hotels, and grocery stores. You can even pay for taxis with USD.

Riviera Maya thrives on tourism, so they’ve become used to dealing with American tourists and thus the US dollar is accepted pretty much everywhere.

This makes paying in US dollars very easy but keep in mind that each restaurant, hotel, or 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 using the currency.

Is it Better to Pay in Dollars or Pesos in Riviera Maya?

US dollars are accepted pretty much everywhere in Riviera Maya so it’s possible to get by without needing to exchange any money.

However, since the official currency in Riviera Maya is the Mexican peso (MXN), you’ll typically save money if you pay in pesos.

Basically, if you’re not worried about losing a few dollars here and there on the exchange rate, it’s possible to just use US dollars for your entire trip.

But if you want to get the best value for money, it’s best to pay in Mexican pesos.

And while credit cards are accepted in many places, you’ll still need cash to pay for taxis, tips, souvenir shopping, and smaller purchases.

A pile of US Dollars and Mexican peso coins and bills

Are Credit Cards Accepted in Riviera Maya?

Yes, credit cards are widely accepted in Riviera Maya and you can use them in most restaurants, large retail stores, hotels, and beach clubs.

Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit cards, and American Express and Discover are less commonly accepted.

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.

I would also recommend using a credit card instead of a debit card when possible, as there are typically less fees and the protection benefits are much better.

And even though credit cards are accepted in many places, it’s still a good idea to have some cash on hand to pay for transportation, tips, and smaller purchases. For example, some smaller restaurants and taco joints in Playa del Carmen will be cash only.

It’s also important to know that taxis in Riviera Maya do not accept credit cards so you’ll need to carry enough cash if you’re planning on taking taxis.

A Playa del Carmen Taxi driving down the street in Playa del Carmen Mexico

Should You Get Pesos Before Going to Riviera Maya?

If you want to be really prepared, I would recommend getting some pesos before going to Riviera Maya so you won’t have to worry about getting them once you arrive.

The easiest way to do this is to order Mexican pesos from your bank ahead of time and it typically takes around 1-3 days for delivery.

If you don’t want to do that or don’t have enough time to do so, you can always withdraw pesos from an ATM once you arrive in Mexico or change dollars to pesos at a currency exchange counter.

Just be sure to check with your bank ahead of time to see if they have any fees for international ATM withdrawals.

What will you need cash for in Riviera Maya?

While credit cards are widely accepted in Riviera Maya, you’ll still need to have some cash on hand if you’re planning to leave the resort, explore the nearby towns, or do some Riviera Maya excursions.

Here are some examples of things you will need cash for in Riviera Maya:

Me jumping in front of the main pyramid at Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins

How Many Pesos Should You Bring to Riviera Maya?

Here is a general guideline to give you a rough idea of how much cash to bring to Riviera Maya:

  • 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 Riviera Maya 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 than the amounts above.

📱 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 during your trip depending on the length of your stay, number of people, and spending habits.

How to Get Pesos for Riviera Maya

Here are a few options for getting pesos for your trip to Riviera Maya 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.

A screenshot of Bank of America website to order foreign currency

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 Cancun Airport once you land.

While your bank might charge a fee for withdrawing money from foreign ATMs, it will typically be cheaper compared to a commission-based money exchange counter.

An HSBC ATM machine at Cancun Airport in Mexico

Exchange dollars for pesos at a currency exchange counter

The final option for getting pesos is to exchange US dollars for pesos at the Cancun Airport or at 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–and they can be a little sketchy looking.

If you really do need to use a currency exchange counter, be sure to check the current exchange rate carefully before deciding whether or not this is the best option for you.

The CiBanco Currency Exchange Counter at Cancun International Airport and people walking by

Using ATMs in Riviera Maya

Here are some tips for withdrawing money from ATMs in Riviera Maya:

Best ATMs in Riviera Maya

When using ATMs in Riviera Maya, 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 (like when shopping on 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen) 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.

If you are staying at one of the larger resorts in Riviera Maya, they will likely have an ATM in the hotel lobby and they are typically pretty safe to use.

And if you go to Playa del Carmen, Cancun, Tulum, or Puerto Morelos, you can find bank ATMs not far from the tourist areas or at larger grocery stores like Chedraui, Walmart, or Mega.

These are the major banks and ATM locations in Riviera Maya that you’ll want to look out for:

  • Banamex
  • Banorte
  • BBVA Bancomer
  • CiBanco
  • HSBC
  • Santander
  • Scotiabank (partnered with Bank of America)

🚨 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!

Bank Partnerships

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.

A woman withdrawing money from an ATM in Mexico

Riviera Maya ATM Fees

When withdrawing money from ATMs in Riviera Maya, 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 (.0548) = $109.60 USD
  • International Transaction Fee: $110.60 x 3% = $3.28 USD
  • Total Amount for this Withdrawal: $112.88 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!

Riviera Maya ATM Conversion Rates

If there’s one thing to remember about using ATMs in Riviera Maya (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.

An ATM screen in Mexico showing the currency conversion with the decline button highlighted

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
A pile of Mexican Peso Bills

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!

Riviera Maya Money Tips

Follow these Riviera Maya travel tips to save money when it comes to Riviera Maya and Playa del Carmen money management:

  • Consider your options when choosing between pesos or USD: When paying at restaurants or retail stores in Riviera Maya, 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 Riviera Maya are Scotiabank, HSBC, CiBanco, 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 Riviera Maya 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 Riviera Maya like Riviera Maya zipline 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.
A pile of blue $500 Mexican peso bills

Riviera Maya Currency: FAQs

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about money and currency in Riviera Maya Mexico:

Do you tip at all inclusive resorts in Riviera Maya?

Yes, tipping is expected at all inclusive resorts in Playa del Carmen, Cancun, and Riviera Maya although it’s not required. You can give tips to the waiters, bartenders, and housekeeping staff as a sign of appreciation for their service.

How much should you tip tour guides in Riviera Maya?

It’s customary to tip around 10-15% of the total tour price. However, if the tour guide did a particularly good job, you can give them more.

Do you tip taxi drivers in Riviera Maya?

No, it is not customary to tip taxi drivers in Riviera Maya so you can feel comfortable just paying the exact price of the fare.

Can I use my debit card in Riviera Maya?

Yes, you can use a debit card in Riviera Maya, however I would recommend using a credit card if possible. Most travel credit cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred have no foreign transaction fees and offer greater protection in case of fraud or theft.

Can you Uber in Riviera Maya?

No, Uber in Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya is currently not available or safe to use. 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 Riviera Maya, you’ll need to make sure you have enough cash on hand as credit cards are not accepted.

Conclusion: Riviera Maya Currency Guide

So should you use pesos or dollars when visiting Riviera Maya Mexico? I hope this Riviera Maya Mexico currency guide has helped you to decide which type of currency to bring to Mexico!

The official currency of Riviera Maya is the Mexican peso so you’ll typically save money if you pay in pesos. But US dollars are widely accepted so it’s possible to get by with just using dollars if you need to.

It’s also a good idea to have some cash on hand for taxis, tipping, and smaller purchases.

Just be sure to follow the Riviera Maya money tips listed above to save money when exchanging currency and paying for things in Riviera Maya.

Now that you know how to handle currency when you travel to Riviera Maya, you can enjoy your trip without worrying about money!

🇲🇽 Traveling to Mexico soon?

These are the Mexico travel resources I use and recommend:

🏨 Hotels: I always find the best deals for Mexico hotels and resorts on Expedia or Booking.com. If you prefer a vacation rental, check VRBO as they are often cheaper than AirBnB’s added fees!

✈️ 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.