bring several american one-dollar bills with you for tipping before you change your money into pesos. DO NOT change your money at the american airports; the rate is terrible, and some charge a commission in addition. the 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.
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,' because it is very likely that their value will have decreased by then.
there is a red cross box at the airport where you can deposit your leftover pesos, and 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.
use the money-changing stalls ('casa de cambio'), in town or in the shopping centers, that DO NOT charge a commission. there will be a sign saying so. there are money-changing stalls everywhere. the exchange rates at the hotels are usually not as good as at the money-changing stalls, but you need to compare.
the banks have the best rates, but it is sometimes a hassle to change money there, and they are often open at irregular hours. on a mexican payday, it is futile to try to use a bank, since lines of mexican workers (waiting to cash paychecks) will extend into the street.
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.
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