Los Cabos and Baja are expensive in comparison to mainland Mexico, but still relatively cheap compared to the rest of North America. The farther away from Los Cabos you go, the lower the prices; a meal that might cost you 400 pesos in Cabo might cost you 350 in La Paz and 300 in Loreto. So-called "gringo" establishments -- owned by, run by, or catering to Americans and Canadians -- are fairly uniform in their (dollar-denominated) prices up and down the peninsula, while so-called "local" places are not only cheaper, but more dependent on location and thus what their markets can bear.
The currency in Mexico is the peso. Paper currency comes in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 pesos, color-coded to make it easy to tell one from the other; for most bills, a slightly different old and new design are still in circulation, but the colors remain the same. Coins come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, and 10 pesos, two-tone coins of different sizes, and 20 and 50 centavos (100 centavos = 1 peso) which are either gold-colored and ridged or silver-colored, tiny, and very light. (It's not uncommon for Mexicans to round nearly worthless centavos up or down when charging you or giving you change). The current exchange rate for the U.S. dollar, and the one used in this guide, is 12 pesos; at that rate, an item that costs 12 pesos would be equivalent to $1.
Although many businesses in Los Cabos and Baja will accept U.S. dollars -- indeed, many list their prices in dollars -- in most cases, you're better off using pesos. You'll pay less, because in Baja, dollar prices are usually calculated at 10 pesos to the dollar despite a currently higher exchange rate. In just one example, a $6 Los Cabos taxi ride paid in pesos was 60 pesos, or $5. And it's a sign of respect to Mexicans and their country to use their local currency, just as it is to speak whatever Spanish you can muster. It's easy to withdraw pesos at widely available ATMs for a small fee, or buy them at your home bank for the going rate. If you must use U.S. dollars, make sure to have bills smaller than a $20 that are clean and not overly worn -- it is up to the discretion of local businesses whether to accept your foreign bills or not! You can also change non-Mexican currency at a casa de cambio; however, the exchange rate you'll find at an ATM is generally more favorable. Most machines offer Spanish/English menus and dispense pesos, but some offer the option of withdrawing dollars. Note: Most ATMs in Mexico accept four-digit PINs only, so if you have a five- or six-digit number, check with your bank to see if you can get a temporary four-digit number for your trip.
Note: Establishments that quote their prices primarily in U.S. dollars are listed in this guide with U.S. dollars. Prices in this guide are listed in the currency advertised by the establishment.
Visa and MasterCard credit and debit cards are widely accepted by higher-end Baja hotels and restaurants, supermarkets, retail stores, and tour operators; American Express and other cards are not. At smaller hotels, restaurants, and retailers, expect to pay cash. Beware of hidden credit card fees while traveling. Check with your credit or debit card issuer to see what fees, if any, will be charged for overseas transactions. Recent reform legislation in the U.S., for example, has curbed some exploitative lending practices. But many banks have responded by increasing fees in other areas, including fees for customers who use credit and debit cards while out of the country -- even if those charges were made in U.S. dollars. Fees can amount to 3% or more of the purchase price. Check with your bank before departing to avoid any surprise charges on your statement. Also be aware that even if prices are listed in dollars, your credit card will often be charged in pesos, which your bank will then convert back to your home currency, almost certainly at a higher cost than the dollar price you thought you were paying. Traveler's checks are not widely accepted in Los Cabos and Baja, and with rare exceptions, personal checks on a foreign bank account won't be accepted at all.
Frommer's lists exact prices in the local currency. However, rates fluctuate, so before departing consult a currency exchange website such as www.oanda.com/currency/converter to check up-to-the-minute rates. For help with currency conversions, tip calculations, and more, download Frommer's convenient Travel Tools app for your mobile device. Go to www.frommers.com/go/mobile and click on the Travel Tools icon.
What Things Cost (MXN)
Taxi from the airport to downtown Cabo San Lucas 700.00
Double room, moderate 1,000.00-1,800.00
Double room, inexpensive 600.00-800.00
Three-course dinner for one without wine, moderate 280.00
Bottle of beer 30.00-45.00
Cup of coffee 15.00-25.00
1 liter of premium gas 9.87
Half-day boat tour 300.00-500.00
Admission to most national parks 30.00-50.00
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.