Financial, Puerto Vallarta
you will get the best exchange rates at ATMs and banks, then at a "casa de cambio" (money-changing stall), then at a hotel.
the easiest way to get pesos is to use an ATM; these are everywhere. the second-easiest way is to go to a casa de cambio, but be sure to go to one that DOES NOT charge a commission (there will be a sign saying so); these are also everywhere.
the third-easiest way is to go to a bank, but bank hours are sometimes unpredictable, you will need your passport to change money there, and the lines on mexican paydays (fridays, and the first and fifteenth days of the month) are interminable.
i used to take traveler's checks to mexico, but using an ATM seems to be the most common way to get pesos now. i'm not even sure whether banks, casas de cambio, and shopkeepers will take traveler's checks any more.
bring several american one-dollar bills with you for tipping in case you can't get pesos right away when you get to puerto vallarta. DO NOT change your money at the american airports; the rate is terrible, and some charge a commission in addition. the ATMS and bank stalls in the puerto vallarta airport usually have a good exchange rate. the porters and the taxi/van drivers who take you to the hotels take dollars.
if you use american DOLLAR BILLS (in any denomination) in puerto vallarta, the people to whom you give them can use them, altho they will have to go to the bank to exchange them for pesos. this is one of the strong reasons why it is more considerate to exchange your dollars for pesos before you do very much shopping, eating out, etc.
if you give american COINS to anyone in puerto vallarta, however, those coins are useless to the people who get them; the banks WILL NOT take them. so don't pay for things or tip with american coins!
the use of credit cards is nowhere near as common in puerto vallarta as it is in the united states. very few of the shops -- except for perhaps the most expensive ones -- take credit cards, and hardly any of the restaurants -- EVEN the most expensive ones -- take credit cards. most hotels, but not all, do take credit cards.
the credit cards that seem to be the most popular in puerto vallarta are visa and mastercard, and then american express. i don't think i saw even one place that took discover cards.
toward the end of your visit, try to estimate how much more you will want to spend, because the exchange rate from pesos TO dollars is not as good as the other way around. you want to end up with very few pesos at the end of your stay. there is not much point in keeping leftover pesos until "next time" unless you travel to puerto vallarta fairly often, because it is very likely that their value will have decreased by then.
in the past there was a red cross donation box at the airport, and i would deposit all of my leftover pesos there. when i went in 2014, however, i never saw a red cross box anywhere, so i cut it pretty close on how many pesos i had by the time i left! the shops at the airport will take pesos, dollars, or a mixture. sometimes i buy postcards at the airport if i have just a few pesos left.
Easy to cash but be sure and have a photo ID. Some places give a better exchange rate for travelers checks and I am not sure why!
Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted. No Discover Cards here. Most places have a service charge, anywhere from 3 to 6% and beware! Because they do not always tell you this.
The money here is the PESO. The exchange rate varies but remains near 9.0 for US and 5.5 for Canadian. You have several ways to exchange your money.
You can change money at the banks Monday through Saturday from 9am til 1pm only. You will get the best exchange rate here.
CASAS DE CAMBIO
These look like little bank teller windows located all over the place. Normally open 7 days a week from 9am til about 10pm. Good exchange rate.
These are accessible 24 hours per day and are popping up everywhere! Excellent rate of exchange (based on exchange rate in Mexico City which is usually a bit better). You will ONLY receive pesos. The charge is normally whatever your bank charges you at home to use the machine.
Dont feel a need to pay extra in order to go to a tour or a hotel in order to see some traditional dancing. Take a strol down the Malacon instead to get your fill of the indigenous roots.