Can You Use US Dollars in Cabo San Lucas?

If you’re coming from the United States and plan to vacation at Cabo San Lucas, one of your concerns is the currency. After all, Cabo San Lucas is a Mexican city that uses the Mexican peso as the local currency. So you may wonder if you can use US dollars during your stay in the city.

You can use US dollars in Cabo San Lucas since it’s a major tourist destination. To accommodate tourists, most establishments accept US dollars. However, each business gets its exchange rate, so it’s always best to use the Mexican peso to get the most out of your money.

While using US dollars when paying for goods and services at Cabo San Lucas is convenient, it can hurt your budget in the long run. If it confuses you, this article will guide you.

Here, we’ll cover everything you need to know about using US dollars in Cabo San Lucas. This way, you can understand the implications of using foreign currency and why it’s best to have Mexican pesos in hand at all times.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Can You Use US Dollars in Cabo San Lucas

Do Establishments in Cabo San Lucas Accept US Dollars?

Even though Cabo San Lucas’ main currency is the Mexican peso, most establishments in the city accept US dollars for tourists.

In general, most establishments in popular tourist areas of Cabo San Lucas accept US dollars. Moreover, some big ones even accept major credit cards, especially hotels, resorts, and fancy restaurants.

You’ll find shops with US dollar price tags if you head to these tourist areas. In some businesses, you’ll also see signs and logos of major credit cards as an accepted payment method.

For this reason, you can enjoy your vacation and stay in Cabo San Lucas without exchanging money. However, it does not mean that you should keep on using US dollars, the reason for which is what we’ll tackle later on.

Another thing to note is that while most establishments accept US dollars, you might find some local stores on the outskirts of the city that do not accept US dollars. It’s also something to note if you plan on staying within residential areas.

Having some Mexican pesos on hand can help you since you might need to use them occasionally.

If you’re searching for the best places to enjoy food, drinks, or parties in the city, read our article about The Best Restaurants, Bars, and Nightlife in Cabo San Lucas.

Why Should You Use Pesos Instead of Dollars in Cabo San Lucas?

As I mentioned earlier, even though most establishments accept US dollars in Cabo San Lucas, it doesn’t mean you should. On the contrary, we recommend paying in Mexican pesos as much as possible, especially in stores that don’t accept credit cards.

Varying and Low Exchange Rates

The main reason you should use a local currency is that most establishments accepting US dollars apply an exchange rate of their own. 

For instance, if the national exchange rate for one US dollar is 20 pesos, the establishments can have rates of as low as 15 pesos for every dollar. With such an exchange rate, your money slashes 25 percent of its value.

If you pay in US dollars throughout your stay in Cabo San Lucas, you’ll pay more than what you’re getting.

Another reason is that besides the low exchange rate, some establishments will give change in the Mexican peso, and the change is lesser than the amount you should get.

For instance, if you pay for a product or service worth 60 pesos, you’ll likely be charged more than 4 dollars, and you won’t even get any change.

For these reasons, it’s always best to use pesos for every transaction in Cabo San Lucas. This way, you can get your money’s worth and pay for goods and services without spending more than you should.

If you’re still unfamiliar with the exact location of this city, read: Discover the Magic of Cabo San Lucas: Where to Find It.

Short Changing in Cabo: A Common Scam

The shortchanging of tourists in Cabo San Lucas is a common problem. In this case, the payment is in US dollars, and the change is in pesos. Therefore, if you are paying for an item or service, make sure you request a change in dollars.

Gas stations in Mexico are notorious for shortchanging tourists. Staff provides all services, and most do not accept credit cards. Therefore, refrain from expecting your change in dollars when paying for gas or other services. You can avoid this issue by paying in pesos.  

Where to Exchange Money in Cabo San Lucas

Now that we have established the importance of using Mexican pesos in Cabo San Lucas, the next thing to know is where to exchange money in the city.

As a major tourist destination, you’ll find a handful of establishments offering money exchanges in Cabo San Lucas. However, most of them could be better and should be avoided.

The first option to exchange money in Cabo San Lucas is the banks. Banks are open from 9 AM to 5 PM for general banking services. However, you can only exchange money between 9 AM and 1 PM. 

Generally, most banks have a lower exchange rate, but they don’t charge a commission, which saves you a lot of money. As such, it’s an excellent option to choose when exchanging money in the city.

Another option is a money exchange house known in Mexico as Casa de Cambio. These places have quick services, and they are open longer than banks. 

Such places also don’t have commissions. However, they have lower exchange rates than the banks or ATMs to earn from these transactions.

Finally, you can exchange your money at the hotel or resort you’re staying in, as they offer such a service for you. However, expect the exchange rates at these places to be the lowest. 

Best Option When Exchanging Money in Cabo San Lucas

The banks and ATMs are your best bet when exchanging money in Cabo San Lucas. It’s also ideal to use your credit card when accepted. These methods will give you the best exchange rates in the city.

While they have lower exchange rates than the national ones, you’ll find them the closest to the actual rates. Furthermore, you’ll avoid commissions and enjoy these options’ regulated rates.


In a nutshell, you can use US dollars in Cabo San Lucas since most establishments accept such a mode of payment. Nonetheless, it’s something other than what we recommend since you won’t get the most out of your money when doing so. 

As always, it’s best to use Mexican pesos since it’s the local currency. This way, you pay for the exact value of the goods and services and enjoy your money’s worth. While it may seem convenient to use US dollars, you can enjoy more money by going to a bank or an ATM to exchange them for a Mexican peso.

Now, if you’re already planning your trip to Cabo San Lucas, you’ll want to know the best things to enjoy around. To learn more, read: Experience the Magic of Cabo San Lucas: Top 10 Things to Do.

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