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We get this question a lot: “Can I use US dollars in Mexico?” The short answer is: Yes, almost everywhere.
While we always recommend using the currency of the country you are in, if you absolutely must use US dollars, here are some tips to know before you come and during:
*The banks (and shops and restaurants, etc) will not accept any denomination of dollar bills if they have tears, writing, tape, or if they are too worn. Therefore, we always recommend you check any dollars you plan to use or exchange in Mexico, as anything listed above will be un-usable.
*Do not leave US coins (or coins from any country) as tips. They have zero value in Mexico. Coins cannot be exchanged at any bank/cambio.
*Expect your change in pesos
*Bring small denominations of bills
*Be aware that if you are using denominations of dollars that are too high (ex: a $20.00 USD bill for a pack of gum, the store may not be able to accept the transaction due to lack of change). Some shops have limits of how much change they can give for a purchase
*Almost every store and restaurant will accept dollars. But, be aware that when doing so, the exchange rate is at their discretion and is usually not competitive with bank exchange rates. All shops and restaurants make their own exchange rate. Just remember that they are doing you a favor by accepting dollars. They have to take their time to go to the bank and stand in line to exchange or deposit your US dollars (perhaps at a loss as the exchange rate changes daily.) And businesses also have a set limit to the amount of US dollars they can deposit each month into Mexican bank accounts.
*Don’t forget, you must bring your passport when exchanging dollars at any bank/cambio. Always ask for small bills in pesos too!