Seasoned readers of these pages may know that we have often extolled the virtues of exchanging your foreign currency in cash when you get to Mexico, and not before. Having just taken note of the exchange rates offered at two airports, our advice remains the same.
If you bought Mexican pesos at London’s Heathrow airport this weekend, you would have received MX$18.45 pesos for each British pound. If you sold pesos to the agency you needed to hand over MX$25.73 pesos to buy a British pound. There’s also a £3.00 commission added to each transaction.
The image above illustrates the rates being offered for British pounds and other major currencies on the same day at Mexico City’s Benito Juarez airport. Traders here were selling British pounds for MX$23.09 pesos, and buying British pounds for MX$21.50 pesos. There is no commission to pay.
To grasp the significant difference between the rates offered in London and Mexico City, it’s helpful to cite an example. Let’s suppose you are leaving London and have £500 in cash to trade for Mexican pesos.
In London, your £500 would be reduced to £497 by the commission, which would convert into MX$9,170 pesos. If you made the exchange in Mexico City, you would have MX$10,750 pesos in your pocket for the same £500.
Now suppose you returned to London with the MX$9,170 pesos you bought there and exchanged them back into British pounds. The airport agency would hand over £356, less another £3.00 in commission, leaving you with just £353 from your original £500. That’s a net ‘cost’ of £147 for the two trades, or 29.4% of your original sum, just for exchanging currency.
If you exchanged the MX$10,750 pesos you bought in Mexico City into British pounds at Mexico City’s airport before you left, you would have £466 returned from your original £500, a far more reasonable cost of £34, or 6.8%, for the same two trades.
It’s a similar story at US and Canadian airports when you exchange dollars for pesos and vice-versa.
Forewarned is forearmed: You’ll have more of your money to spend in Mexico on the things that matter to you when you exchange your foreign currency into pesos when you arrive in Mexico, and sell any left-over pesos you have here before you leave.
You can learn more about currency, use of debit cards in Mexico, and currency exchange on our comprehensive guide to Money in Mexico.
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