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Costs, Money And Banks in Mexico: Cash and travellers' cheques

In touristy places, such as Acapulco and Tijuana, US dollar bills are almost as easy to spend as pesos. Of course the big disadvantage with cash is that once stolen or lost, it's gone forever. For that reason, most travellers prefer to bring plastic and/or travellers' cheques (personal cheques are virtually worthless in Mexico). But do bring some dollars cash - sometimes you won't be able to change anything else. It's also a good idea to have a mixture of denominations, including a wad of single dollar bills, and to try to bring some pesos (US$50/?30-worth, say), just in case you're unable to change money on arrival, or would rather not wait in a long line to do so. Although few US banks keep foreign currency on hand, and banks in Britain, Australia and New Zealand are unlikely to stock Mexican pesos, you should be able to order them from your bank's foreign desk if you give them a few days' notice; or you may find them at specialist exchange desks at the airport.

Travellers' cheques have the obvious advantage over cash that if they are lost or stolen, the issuing company will refund them on production of the purchase receipt. For that reason, keep the receipt safe and separate from the cheques themselves, along with a record of the serial numbers and a note of those ones you have already cashed. If your cheques do get lost or stolen, the issuing company will expect you to report the loss to their local office immediately. You pay one to two percent commission to buy the cheques, and usually get a lower rate of exchange for them, but it's worth it for the extra peace of mind.

When buying travellers' cheques, get a sensible mix of denominations, and stick to the established names - Thomas Cook, American Express, Visa or one of the major American banks - not only because these will be more recognized, but also because there will be better customer service should they be lost or stolen

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