Mexico City – Cash (Pesos or USD) Or Card?

Money is always one of the main concerns when traveling. After all, we’re constantly making transactions when we’re out. One thing to note is that Mexico City has a different currency if you’re from the US or other countries outside Mexico. As such, you may wonder about the form of payment to use. For example, should you use cash or a card? If cash, should you use the Mexican Peso (MXN) or the US Dollar (USD)? 

The short answer is to use a card when possible to get the best exchange rates, and when you can only pay in cash, use the local currency, the Mexican Peso. This way, you avoid overcharging and get the best deals using Pesos.

Some tourists must consider the exchange rates and use dollars when traveling to Mexico. While it works, it can double your expenses in the long run. It may seem convenient, but it will hurt your budget.

In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about using cards and cash when transacting in Mexico City. We’ll also cover the benefits and downsides of using foreign currencies in the country. 

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

What Currency Is Used in Mexico City

What Currency Is Used in Mexico City?

Since Mexico City is the capital of Mexico, the currency used in this area is the Mexican Peso (MXN). However, since it’s a big city and a major tourist destination, most establishments here accept US Dollars (USD) payments. 

Another thing to note is that since Mexico City is a big city and the country’s capital, you’ll find most establishments here accepting card and online payments. As such, when transacting in high-end restaurants, stores, and malls, you can always get by even if you don’t have cash.

Do You Need Cash in Mexico City?

If you’re visiting Mexico City and wondering if you need cash, it depends on how you’ll tour the place. However, for the best experience, it’s best to have some cash with you.

As a big city, most establishments, such as restaurants and hotels, accept card and online payments. As such, you can get by without bringing cash.

If you want to know the prices of food and drinks to know how much money to exchange, read our article about Food and Drink Prices in Mexico City.

However, if you plan to explore the local stores and streets, you must bring cash since these establishments only accept cash payments.

You can always go for establishments that accept card and online payments. However, if you steer clear of the local stores, there are better and most authentic Mexican tours.

When you’re in Mexico City, you need to explore the local markets, street food, and stores, and you can only pay for such things in cash. 

Do You Need Pesos in Mexico City?

Since you need cash when visiting and exploring Mexico City, you need that cash to be in the local currency, the Mexican Peso. 

In general, most establishments in the city will accept payment in US dollars. However, it’s an opportunity for every business to gain extra profits.

If you pay in US dollars, they will ask for a price higher than the one you pay in Mexican Pesos.

Also, you’ll find it best to have the local currency when paying for small things like parking spaces, tips, and donations. 

We suggest you always have at least a hundred dollars exchanged into Mexican Pesos. This way, you’ll always have cash in hand whenever you need them. 

We don’t recommend having large sums of cash since you can’t retrieve such if it gets lost or stolen.

When exchanging, it’s best to do so in your country rather than in areas such as the airport, the hotel, or other tourist spots. This way, you avoid the high exchange rates and get the best deals for your money.

Can You Use US Dollars in Mexico City?

As mentioned earlier, most establishments in Mexico City accept US dollars as payment. As such, you can get by without exchanging your money.

However, while you can use US dollars, we recommend something other than such since it will hurt your budget in the long run. 

While most establishments accept US dollars as payment, they are not regulated, meaning they can charge for an exchange rate independently. 

In most cases, transactions worth a few dollars may not seem like a big deal. However, continuously using US dollars as payment for everything can hurt your budget in the long run.

Using US dollars when necessary, especially in emergencies, is always okay. However, we recommend having some cash in local currency and using it to get the best deals for your money.

Is It Better to Take Pesos or USD to Mexico City?

Taking pesos (MXN) instead of dollars (USD) to Mexico is always better. While most establishments in the city accept both, you’ll get better deals and your money’s worth when you use the local currency.

Also, it will help you avoid business owners who charge a higher exchange rate to gain profits when they accept US dollars. 

When an establishment accepts US dollars, exchanging money may seem like a hassle. Nonetheless, paying only pesos instead of dollars will save you a lot in the long run.

We suggest you exchange before leaving your country. If you have excess cash, you can always exchange it for dollars when you return home.

Tips When Paying in Mexico City

Here are some helpful tips regarding the use of cash and payments in Mexico City:

Know the Exchange Rates

Whenever you transact at a local store and you’re paying in US dollars, it’s best to ask about their exchange rate. This way, you can compare them to the actual rate and see if they offer a bad one. If you think it’s too much, leave and exchange for local currency first.

If you’re searching for places to get Mexican pesos for your US dollars, read our article about Money Exchange in Mexico City.

Never Complain

Refrain from complaining about the prices and the lousy exchange rate if you did not exchange your money using US dollars. In the first place, it’s your fault for not using pesos. It’s also their way of earning profit since they have to exchange cash.

Always Use the Mexican Peso

It may be challenging to understand a new currency, but it’s your best bet to enjoy the best deals. Of course, you can always find places to exchange money, so be sure to do so.

Avoid Airports and Tourist Spots for Exchanges

Airports and other tourist spots are known for charging high exchange rates and extra fees. As such, it’s best to exchange your dollars into pesos with your bank or any bank since they are regulated and close to the actual rate.

Use Card Payments When Applicable

As mentioned, banks follow the actual rate, although they may add an extra fee. Therefore, using your card is best when transacting in a foreign country. However, be sure your card doesn’t charge extra fees for foreign transactions. To be sure, contact your bank.

Make Use of ATMs

Mexico City is the country’s capital, with ATMs on almost every corner. You can always use your card to get some local cash if you can find one.


In a nutshell, in Mexico City, tourists can get by using foreign currencies like US dollars. However, to get the best deals, you should always use the local currency, which is the Mexican Peso. We suggest you get the best exchange rate by using a credit card, and when you must pay in cash, use the Mexican Peso. Using Pesos ensures you don’t overpay and you get the best deal.

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