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Traveler's Checks — México

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The problem with traveling with cash is that once lost or stolen it can't be replaced. Traveler’s checks (cheques de viajero) solve this problem by creating a paper trail with a receipt from the purchase of the checks. If the checks are lost or stolen the issuing company will honor the purchase receipt and replace the checks. The purchase fees are also reasonable, usually between one to two percent of the face value of a check.

Traveler's checks are widely accepted in México and the exchange rates at banks and casas de cambio are usually comparable to rates for cash. If a bank or casa de cambio is offering a rate that is less than they offer for cash, shop around for a better deal, particularly if there are lots of other options nearby. The exchange rate from a hotels, restaurant, and other business is generally not good and like for cash they usually extract a steep cut — as much as 10% — from the current currency exchange rates. It is best to avoid these situations and only change traveler's checks at banks and casas de cambio.

Stick with established brands like American Express, Visa, and Thomas Cook in major currencies such as US dollars, Euros, Canadian dollars, British pounds, Swiss Francs, Australian dollars, and Yen. They are more widely accepted and their local offices and affiliates are more common so it's easier to replace missing checks.

It is best to purchase a mix of different valued checks. Banks and casas de cambio will not flinch at changing a large denomination check, say USD$100, but a restaurant or other small business may scoff because it would clean them out.

Usually one form of picture identification such as a passport is sufficient to cash traveler's checks. Although some places require a second piece of identification such as a driver's license or student id.

To replace missing checks present the purchase receipt at the issuing company's local or affiliate office and they will issue new checks of comparable value. It is important to keep purchase receipts separate from checks at all times to avoid their loss as well. To improve the turnaround time on refunds report a loss to the issuing company immediately. Also keep a record of the serial numbers and mark off the checks as they are used.

Phone numbers to contact in México for lost or stolen traveler's checks:

American Express
Thomas Cook MasterCard

Personal bank checks and international money orders cannot be exchanged for pesos at banks and casas de cambio so they are useless for ordinary travelers. They can be deposited in a Méxican bank account, but the hold time until a check clears is weeks.

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