How Much Cash to Bring to Mexico
Disclaimer: This page may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of those links, I may earn a commission at zero cost for you. Please see my disclaimer policy here.
If you’re planning a trip soon, you’re probably wondering how much cash to bring to Mexico.
Even though cashless methods of payment are widely accepted throughout Mexico, knowing the correct amount of cash to bring in the local currency (pesos or “MXN”) is more important than you think.
Aside from certain modes of public transportation, service industry tips, and some local shops, a credit or debit card will likely be your best friend while in Mexico.
However, having some cash in the local currency on hand will help keep your vacation stress-free.
If you’re wondering how much cash you can bring into Mexico, or are simply wondering how much it costs to go to Mexico, you’ve come to the right blog.
Read below to learn about spending options, tips and tricks, and the cost of traveling to Mexico.
How much cash to bring to Mexico based on your budget?
Identifying what your budget is prior to booking your trip is important.
For one, it will help determine where in Mexico is best to visit. Secondly, it will determine what activities you can participate in.
A good rule of thumb is to bring 25% of your overall budget in cash to avoid carrying around huge wads of money.
For example, if your daily budget is $50 and you’ll be in Mexico for six days, you should plan to bring $60-70 in cash.
Even if you overspend and run out, there are plenty of legitimate ATMs in most major cities and towns.
Read below for a general guide on how much cash to bring to Mexico for low-end, medium-end, and high-end budgets.
➡️ Low-End Budgets
There are still plenty of fun and affordable things to do in Mexico on a low-end budget! A comfortable daily allowance on a low-end budget is $35-$70 USD per person.
This being said, there are some regions of Mexico that are pricier than others. For example, Los Cabos is known as the most expensive in Mexico, while Chiapas and Oaxaca are more budget-friendly.
For cash, bring $10-$15 USD for each day of your vacation.
➡️ Mid-Range Budgets
Have a larger budget but still want to watch your spending? A comfortable daily allowance in Mexico is $70-$150 USD per person.
This will allow you to do a few more luxurious tours, eat at nicer restaurants, or stay at a mid-range hotel. For cash, bring $25-35 USD for each day of your vacation.
➡️ High-End Budgets
If money isn’t an object for you and a budget is out of the question, the sky’s the limit in Mexico!
As one of the most affordable places in the world to travel, you can enjoy the best all-inclusive resorts, high-end restaurants, and private bespoke tours.
A typical daily allowance for a high-end budget is $150-$1000 USD a day per person. For cash, allot $35 – $100 USD for each day of your vacation.
Cost of Food
The good news is that there’s no shortage of amazing and affordable food in Mexico.
From simple tacos to complex Mayan cuisines, you’ll have more than enough restaurants to choose from no matter your budget.
One thing to be mindful of prior to arriving in Mexico is that restaurants in the tourist spots will be more expensive.
For low-end budgets, buying food at the local supermarket is a great way to save money. The food is fresh and they have plenty of vegetables, snacks, and local beverages.
If you’re on a mid-range budget, there are many delicious roadside stands and oceanfront restaurants that sell tacos, burritos, and cochinita pibil (pulled pork) dishes for $6 to $15 a plate.
For bigger spenders, cities such as Mexico City, Cabo, Tulum, and Cancun are home to plenty of stunning award-winning and upscale restaurants.
To eat more luxuriously, this could cost between $50-$200 a person depending on the location.
Keep in mind though, some places like Tulum hardly accept credit cards, although things have been changing lately.
That is why it’s always good to have some cash with you.
Cost of Shopping
Generally, shopping in Mexico is much cheaper than shopping in other tourist destinations such as the U.S. or Europe.
Shopping for clothes in Mexico in particular is quite cheap.
Most malls, department stores, and grocery stores accept credit cards, while smaller “mom-and-pop” shops, souvenir stands, or roadside food trucks might be cash only.
If you plan to do a minimal amount of shopping during your vacation, allocating a budget of $100 USD for a week is ideal.
Cost of Transportation
The cost of transportation varies slightly throughout the country (and Mexico is a large country!)
Before booking your vacation, it’s best to determine what regions of the country you plan to visit and map out transportation routes and costs.
A factor that determines the total cost of transportation is the size of the area you visit and the distance between attractions.
For example, the Yucatan Peninsula has many things to do and see in a relatively small area which makes transportation more affordable.
Other modes of transportation available in Mexico are flights, rental cars, shuttles (colectivos) and taxis.
For longer distances, rental cars, buses, or flights are the most convenient option. Prices for both vary based on the season and route.
For intercity travel, buses and taxis are the most affordable option. Note that taxi drivers work off fixed prices.
🚌 Public Transportation Fare
Public transportation fares vary slightly depending on the city or town.
On average, a one-way inter-city bus ticket can cost between 25 and 50 cents ($6-10 MXN).
Other modes of public transportation include the subway which costs around 16 cents ($3 MXN). T
he best way to see how much the public transportation will cost in the area you are visiting is the Bookaway app.
It reveals the cost, distance, and travel time for all bus, ferry, and train routes throughout Mexico.
🚗 Car Rental
The total price for a car rental in Mexico varies depending on length of trip, miles driven, type of car requested, and the season you visit.
However, the average daily cost of a rental car in Mexico is about $30 ($559 MXN).
You can pay for your car rental online ahead of time using a credit card, but keep a small amount of cash on hand to pay any potential tolls you may encounter.
Base taxi fares vary throughout Mexico depending on the city you visit.
However, getting around via taxi is still more affordable in Mexico than it is in the U.S. or Europe.
Most city taxis have visible and verified meters, but taxis in smaller towns often do not. In this case, it’s best to agree upon a price with the driver prior to getting into the taxi.
Uber is currently available in more than 60 cities across Mexico, and it’s considered the safest mode of transportation.
The best part is that it doesn’t require any cash since all transactions including tipping are done from the app.
An Uber ride in Mexico is typically cheaper than a taxi and can cost as little as $2-4 ($37-74 MXN) for a shorter distance.
Cost of Accommodation
One of the best things about Mexico is that it has something for every budget. This is also true when it comes to lodging options.
For reference, the nightly rates of the hostels and hotels in Mexico are comparable to most other Central American countries.
A mix-dorm will likely cost $10-25 a night. A mid-range hotel room will usually cost $25 to $55 per night.
Finally, an upscale hotel or all-inclusive resort could cost anywhere from $55 to $1000 USD a night depending on location and property amenities.
Regardless of your budget, to get the best deal possible, book your accommodation in advance using travel apps such as Booking.com or Expedia.
Many hostels, hotels, and resorts fill up very quickly, especially during Mexico’s high season.
Cost of Tours and Attractions
The cost of guided tours and attractions varies greatly throughout Mexico depending on the attraction and the region you visit.
For example, in the Yucatan Peninsula, admittance to Chichen Itza alone cost $32USD ($613 MXN).
In Mexico City, a six hour tour including a cruise through the Xochimilco floating gardens and entrance to the Frida Kahlo Museum is just $ 38 USD ($708 MXN).
However, don’t let the cost of tours and attractions deter you from exploring all that Mexico has to offer.
Even if you’re on a low-end budget, it’s best to splurge more of your budget on attractions than it is to stay in a fancier hotel or hostel.
How Much Money to Take to an All-Inclusive in Mexico?
Virtually any all-inclusive resort will accept cashless methods of payment. Most purchases made on-property can be charged to your suite or room via your credit card on file.
Still, it’s smart to bring a small amount of cash with you for service tips (for spa treatments, bartenders, waiters and waitresses, tour guides, etc.). To determine the appropriate amount of cash to bring, add up the total cost of the property and bring 25% of that to spread out over however many days you plan to spend there.
Can You Use American Money in Mexico?
The official currency in Mexico is the Mexican Peso (MXN).
However, the U.S. dollar is also widely accepted as a form of payment, especially in many tourist places such as Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and Cabo San Lucas.
Many restaurants, hotels, and stores will accept both currencies, and will even list prices in pesos and dollars.
🇲🇽 What currency is used in Mexico?
The Mexican Peso (MXN) is the official currency of Mexico.
💱 Exchange rate of US Dollars to Mexican Pesos
The U.S. Dollar to Mexican Peso (MXN) rate is currently 1 US dollar to $20.2283 MXN Peso.
Exchange rates float freely, meaning they are in constant fluctuation. Check the exchange rate prior to leaving for your vacation.
🏦 Where is the best place to convert USD to MXN?
It’s best to order pesos via your local U.S. bank before arriving in Mexico to avoid inflated fees.
If this isn’t an option, you can go into a reputable bank or credit union nearby.
If you must use an ATM for cash, this is typically safe too, but just remember to convert your currency to pesos for the best deal.
Should I Get Cash Before I Go To Mexico?
When deciding how much cash to bring to Mexico, you might be wondering how exactly to get the cash in the first place.
The best way is to get the pesos from your U.S. bank prior to arriving in Mexico. Since most major tourist attractions accept both U.S. dollars and pesos, you should bring a little of both.
However, don’t bring too much. Even though Mexico is generally safe, it’s not a good idea to carry around large wads of cash in your wallet or pockets.
💰 How to buy Mexican Pesos while in the US?
You can buy pesos with U.S. dollars at most major banks including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JP Morgan, PNC, or Chase.
To do this, you will need to be a customer of the bank you wish to buy the currency from.
How to Spend Money in Mexico?
If you’re wondering how much you should spend in Mexico, that is completely up to you, the traveler!
It’s a great country to visit as it offers something for someone on any budget.
On average, those who vacation in Mexico typically spend about $92USD a day ($1,735 MXN).
💳 Use Credit Cards
Credit cards are widely accepted at most places of business throughout Mexico, especially in tourist areas.
Besides small towns and certain food trucks or shops, you can use a credit card to pay for most things.
Pros and Cons
There are many benefits of using a credit card including points and other travel perks. Some travel cards like Capital One Venture also waive foreign transaction fees.
The downside is the possibility of them getting lost, stolen, or hacked. Some small businesses abroad also don’t accept credit cards.
Never give out your credit card number to individuals, and keep your card in a safe place that can’t be easily stolen or pickpocketed.
Keep your bank and credit card company’s information on a small piece of paper in case of emergencies or instances of fraud or theft.
💳 Use Debit Cards
Debit cards are also widely accepted in Mexico as a form of payment for goods and services.
Pros and Cons
Using your debit card in Mexico is generally safe, and carrying a debit card is safer than carrying a large amount of actual cash on you.
A possible downside is when your card isn’t accepted or stops working, you may find yourself in a stressful situation with no way to pay for things.
Make sure you keep your debit card someplace safe and secure where you can easily locate it.
Use your best judgment when buying services or products, and don’t purchase tours or experiences from companies that are not certified tour guides.
It is possible to pay gratuities with a debit card in Mexico just as you would with a credit card but many waiters and waitresses may prefer cash in local currency.
💳 Use Prepaid Travel Cards
Prepaid travel cards are a great option if you want to unlock the best exchange rates and overall cheaper travel.
Pros and Cons
Many prepaid travel cards take the worry out of converting your money beforehand. They allow for spending in multiple currencies and can be used in most countries.
You can also use some cards at registered ATMs with no transaction fees until after the first $100USD is withdrawn.
Even if you don’t have a physical card, the information can be accessed through Google or Apple Pay right from your phone.
The downside is that many prepaid cards come with their own set of fees and limitations, so it’s important to read over the small print when applying for one.
You can use a prepaid travel card the same way you would a debit card.
Treat it as you would any other bank card, and keep it in a safe and secure place where it can’t be scanned or pickpocketed.
Before you sign up for a prepaid travel card, make sure you read the small print regarding usage rules, fees, and limitations.
💸 Pay with Cash
You can pay with cash in Mexico the same way you pay with cash in the U.S.
Their official currency may be different, but most stores and restaurants also accept both dollars and pesos.
Pros and Cons
Bringing a small amount of cash in the local currency with you is always a good idea.
This could help in any unforeseen emergencies where you may not be able to use your credit or debit card.
Oppositely, carrying around too much cash can be inconvenient and dangerous.
Use your best judgment when deciding how much cash to bring with you to Mexico. A good rule to follow is to bring 25% of your total budget in cash.
If you happen to run out, use your debit card or prepaid travel card at a verified national bank ATM to get the best exchange rate.
Are ATMs in Mexico Safe to Use?
Yes, most ATMs associated with national banks in Mexico are safe to use. When using an ATM, always convert the amount to local currency.
Be aware of your surroundings, and keep your PIN number and cash out of plain sight.
🚫 Unaffiliated ATMs in Tourist Spots
When using ATMs in tourist spots, you have to use extra precautions. Make sure the ATM is associated with a major bank rather than being nameless.
➡️ ATM Transaction Fees
Some banks don’t charge a fee for ATM usage. Ones that do typically only charge $1 to 1% of the total amount withdrawn.
This is often less than the rate you would pay if exchanging dollars for pesos at a reputable bank.
Tips for Safely Spending Money in Mexico
Mexico is generally a very safe country, but when it comes to protecting your money, you still need to stay vigilant.
Don’t use random, nameless ATMs in tourist areas, and be aware of local scams.
Don’t get into a meterless cab without agreeing on a price first, and do your research on hotels and car rentals prior to arriving in Mexico.
Frequently Asked Questions on Spending Money in Mexico
➡️ Legally, how much cash can I take to Mexico?
If you’re wondering how much cash you can bring to Mexico, the answer is up to $10,000 USD, or about $186,00 MXN.
If you bring more than this, you will have to declare it with customs (if you’re just visiting for a short period, you definitely won’t need this much!)
➡️ Is it better to bring cash or credit to Mexico?
It’s better to bring a credit card for both convenience and safety.
You’ll get a better exchange rate using a card, and most places of business accept cards.
➡️ What is the best way to bring money to Mexico?
The best way to bring money to Mexico is through travel cards.
You can get these cards through Wise or Mastercard and spend money in multiple currencies. Many also waive foreign transaction fees.
➡️ How much cash do you need per day in Mexico?
This depends. When deciding how much cash to bring to Mexico per pay, follow the 25% rule.
Identify your total personal budget and bring 25% of that in cash. Split this up evenly throughout the days you are there.
➡️ How much money to take to Mexico for a week?
Follow the 25% rule regardless of how many days you will be in Mexico.
For example, if your total budget for a seven-day vacation is $1500USD, you should bring a total of $375USD or $7,000 MXN. This totals about $50USD in cash per day.
➡️ How much money should I take to Mexico for a month?
Use the same method above when determining how much cash to bring to Mexico for a month.
If your total budget for the month is $5000, you should bring no more than $1250USD or $23,234 MXN. Per day, it would equal out to be about $42USD or $781 MXN.
Conclusion: How much cash to bring to Mexico
When it comes down to it, there really is no magic or “right” number of cash to bring to Mexico.
It truly depends on your own personal travel budget and how you feel most comfortable paying for goods and services.
As long as you obey customs laws and don’t flash huge wads of cash around, you’ll likely have an enjoyable and stress-free vacation regardless of how you pay for it.
Isabella, author, editor, and founder
A passionate traveler and photographer, in love with life and adventures, Isabella is the founder and editor of Letstraveltomexico where she shares her love for Mexico, a fascinating country that she’s proud to call home. When she’s not exploring a new place you will find Isabella in a cafe, writing on this blog, or on her other sites Boundless Roads, Mexico Cenotes and Ruins and Letstraveltocancun.com where she loves to share her travels on and off the beaten path in Mexico and around the world.