One of the biggest questions future visitors of Puerto Vallarta have is, “What do I bring for money?” It’s a great question as there are lots of options. We’ll walk you through the pros and cons of each option and what may work best for your situation.
Can I use Dollars?
While US and Canadian dollars may be accepted in some establishments, it is not the norm everywhere. And even if they are welcomed or accepted, the exchange rate is often not to the advantage of the traveler. If you can avoid it, the best thing is to travel with Mexican pesos or acquire some when you get down here.
Exchanging At Your Home Bank:
In our experience, this is one of the safer options as far as making sure you have what you need before you take off for Vallarta. Most banking institutions will have an option that will allow you to withdraw from your checking or savings account and have the money sent to you in Mexican Pesos, and the exchange rate is very favorable. You should give yourself at least one week for the Pesos to arrive, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time. And lastly, make sure you specify what bills you want and be sure to request some smaller bills. $20 and 50 peso bills may be used quite frequently at the start of your adventure in Vallarta, perhaps for tipping or grab an ice-cold Cerveza. So be sure to request some smaller bills to avoid having to break a bunch of larger bills at the start of your trip.
WIthdrawing From An ATM in Puerto Vallarta:
This is actually a fantastic option and one that many first-time travelers seem a tad nervous about. If you know what the best plan of action is as you go to the ATM, this is a really great way to acquire pesos. If you bring pesos with you but run out while you’re having a blast in Vallarta, this is absolutely the best real-time exchange option as well. This is also the best option if you may not feel comfortable traveling with that much cash on your way to Vallarta.
First, locate an ATM that dispenses pesos. You can search for a bank branch or ask your concierge or local friends where there is an ATM. We typically use Banorte, but any branch will do. Use your local ATM card, and when the prompt appears on the screen asking if you accept the exchange rate, simply choose “No” on the screen, and your home bank exchange rate will automatically kick in. Keep in mind you will pay an ATM fee, but they are never more than $20-40 pesos ($2-3 dollars). If you opt for this method, keep in mind that you can only withdraw so much per day and per month, depending on your banking institution. So if you do travel without any pesos, just plan on making a few trips to the ATM if you require a significant amount of cash during your trip.
What About Currency Exchange’s?
Currency exchanges are typically located conveniently in the airports during your trip, so this can be an attractive option. There is one located on the arrival floor of the Puerto Vallarta airport. Most of the time, currency exchanges will feature a slightly less than favorable rate than your home bank. They often have just slightly higher fees as well. While they are a great option and will not make a huge impact on your withdrawal, we have found exchanges with our home bank to be a much better option when rate shopping and trying to avoid fees.