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Money In Mexico

Navigating Isla Mujeres with Pesos and Sense

Welcome to the treasure trove of information about all things monetary on Isla Mujeres! Whether you’re a budgeting buccaneer or a spendthrift sailor, this guide will help you navigate the financial waters of our beautiful island.

Pesos and Sense Snapshot

The Mexican Peso: Other currencies are accepted, but pesos get the better deals

Exchange Rates: They ebb and flow like the Caribbean tide!

Cash or Card?: Cards are widely accepted but be cautious

ATM Wisdom: Stick to bank ATMs, really – stick to the banks.

Tipping Etiquette: They’re a big part of Isleño income so spread the love!

Emergency Cash: Xoom/PayPal and Remitly to the Rescue!

Smart Money Tips: Don’t flash your cash, and always have backup plan.

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The Mexican Peso

The Mexican Peso (MXN) reigns supreme on Isla Mujeres. The colorful bills are printed in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 peso bills, and you might occasionally spot a 1000 peso note. Coins come in 5, 10, 20, and 50 centavos, with larger coins in 1, 2, 5, 10, and the rarer 20 pesos.

Remember, each peso is represented by the $ sign and is worth 100 centavos. So when shopping, always ask if the price is in Mexican Pesos (MXN) or U.S. Dollars (USD) – don’t let currency confusion turn your budget upside down!

Important to note that Mexico changed the design and colors of their currency and you’ll likely get old bills mixed in with the new ones – be careful not to confuse the colors. In fact ignore the colors and simply make careful note of the amount.

Exchange Rates

Exchange rates fluctuate like the sand on North Beach. For the best rates, visit the banks or use their ATMs. Store and restaurant exchange rates will never, ever be in your favor. Remember, exchange rates can be as unpredictable as the sea, so keep an eye on them.

Pre-Trip Tip: Download Xe App for a handy currency exchange calculator.

Cash or Card?

Cash is King on Isla Mujeres, especially in smaller establishments, street vendors, and taxis. Major credit cards are accepted at most hotels, touristy restaurants and stores, golf cart rentadoras and tour operators.

There are only a few places that accept Apple Pay – don’t depend on it. If you don’t have cards you’ll need to use Remitly or Xoom.

Tip: Bring along several different cards, and keep at them in your hotel safe in the event that your wallet or purse is lost or stolen.

Be cautious with your cards to avoid fraud.

  • Inform your bank the dates you’ll be in Mexico
  • Set the purchase and withdraw limit to your credit and debit cards. 
  • If you don’t already have it, install your bank’s app on your mobile so you’ll receive a notifications for every charge/withdraw.
  • Go the extra mile and keep the card you’re using blocked and only unblock when you make a purchase. Check with your bank first. Roaming charges may apply.


There are plenty of ATMs downtown, but stick to those inside banks. Street or store ATMs might be convenient but are pirate traps for your precious card details! Always shield your PIN entry for extra security.

Many wise travelers use a “Travel Account” debit card and transfer the amount of money they need on a daily basis as well as setting a withdraw and purchase limit. Make sure the “Travel” debit card does not have access to your other accounts through the ATM.

Remember, the ATMs dispense pesos, not dollars, and may charge an extra exchange fee – check with your bank.

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Tipping Etiquette

Tipping in USD is fine (bills only, foreign coins have no value in Mexico), though pesos are usually more practical for the recipient and will save them a trip to the bank.

In restaurants and bars, around 15% is standard, but feel free to tip more for exceptional service. Check your bill as some places include the tip especially for large groups.

Tip daily for hotel housekeeping, not on the last day of your stay – it may not be the same person who cleans your room every day. And don’t forget your tour guides, captains & crew, and the musician’s tip jar!

Cardless Cash

Lost your wallet while dancing under the stars? Never carry cards? Don’t panic, services like Xoom and Remitly can save the day! They’ll transfer your funds to Banco Azteca, located at the rear of Elektra Store on Av. Guerrero. Do your research and create an account before your trip – just to be safe 🙂

Xoom/PayPal to the Rescue!
Here’s your treasure map to navigate Xoom/PayPal, Remitly is similar but without the PayPal part:

  • Log In: If you’re a PayPal user, you’re already halfway there! Xoom is part of PayPal’s family. Just log into your PayPal account and click on “Transfer Money” and then “Send Internationally” to Mexico. You’ll be whisked away to Xoom.com.
  • Details, Details: Enter the amount you need and choose “Cash Pickup”. Make sure you pick Elektra/Banco Azteca as your destination.
  • Your Info: Enter your name exactly as it appears on your ID (passport, usually), specify ‘Isla Mujeres’ as the city and ‘Quintana Roo’ as the state. Don’t forget your contact details!
  • Payment Method: Choose from your PayPal balance, bank account, or card.
  • Review & Send: Confirm all the details, and voilà – your cash should be ready for pickup at Banco Azteca, usually within an hour though it might take longer the first time.

Note: Things change, and this is the process as of 2024. Always do a quick check to ensure you’re up to date with the latest steps.

Smart Money Tips

Keep an eye on your financial ship. Use hotel safes, don’t flash large amounts of cash, store photos of the credit/debit cards you’ll be using and your passport online and stash an “emergency” credit card in the safe.

And remember, it’s not just about spending money – it’s about making priceless memories on Isla Mujeres!

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Isla Mujeres Pubelo Magico

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The different colors on peso bills are meant to showcase the country’s cultural and natural heritage

Plus it’s an advanced security feature to prevent counterfeiting!