Frommer's lists exact prices in the local currency (unless rates are given in U.S. dollars). However, rates fluctuate, so before departing consult a currency exchange website such as www.oanda.com/convert/classic to check up-to-the-minute rates.
Traditionally, prices in the southern region of Mexico are cheaper than in other parts of the country, although prices vary depending on the specific location. The most expensive destinations are those with the largest number of foreign visitors, such as Cancún and Los Cabos. The least expensive are those off the beaten path and in small rural villages, particularly in the poorer states. In the major cities, prices vary greatly depending on the neighborhood. As you might imagine, tourist zones tend to be more expensive.
The currency in Mexico is the peso.
Many establishments that deal with tourists, especially in coastal resort areas, quote prices in U.S. dollars. To avoid confusion, they use the abbreviations DLLS. for dollars and M.N. (moneda nacional, or national currency) or M.X.P. for Mexican Pesos. Note: Establishments that quote their prices primarily in U.S. dollars are listed in this guide with U.S. dollars.
Getting change is a problem. Small-denomination bills and coins are hard to come by, so start collecting them early in your trip. Shopkeepers and taxi drivers everywhere always seem to be out of change and small bills; that's doubly true in markets. There seems to be an expectation that the customer should provide appropriate change, rather than the other way around.
Large airports have currency-exchange counters that often stay open whenever flights are operating. Though convenient, they generally do not offer the most favorable rates. The bottom line on exchanging money: Ask first, and shop around. Banks generally pay the top rates.
Travelers to Mexico can easily withdraw money from ATMs, called cajeras, in most major cities and resort areas. Use the same precautions you would at any ATM. Most machines offer Spanish/English menus and dispense pesos, but some offer the option of withdrawing dollars.
In Mexico, Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are the most accepted cards. You'll be able to charge most hotel, restaurant, and store purchases, as well as almost all airline tickets, on your credit card. Most Pemex gas stations now accept credit card purchases for gasoline, though this option may not be available everywhere and often not at night -- check before you pump. Generally you receive the favorable bank rate when paying by credit card. However, be aware that some establishments in Mexico add a 5% to 7% surcharge when you pay with a credit card. This is especially true when using American Express. Many times, advertised discounts will not apply if you pay with a credit card.
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. Check with your bank before departing to avoid any surprise charges on your statement.
A Few Words About Prices -- Many hotels in Mexico -- except places that receive little foreign tourism -- quote prices in U.S. dollars or in both dollars and pesos. Thus, currency fluctuations are unlikely to affect the prices most hotels charge.
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.