Flocks of snowbirds, feathered and otherwise, are flying south, arriving in Puerto Vallarta via airstreams and airlines, and we once again come to the annual topic of how to exchange money. Currently the peso is fluctuating like crazy and it’s not easy getting firm information because due to the election in the US, predictions are unreliable until after the inauguration in January. At this point it’s been forecast that the peso will most likely stabilize again at about 18.00 by June and remain where it is until that time. But then, as we have been shown as of late, all bets are off when it comes to forecasting political futures related to the economy.
In the meantime, where do we go about exchanging our own personal currency in Puerto Vallarta? Many of us have learned that the bank in our hometown doesn’t have pesos lying around. Airports aren’t necessarily a great place to exchange money either, as they will charge you a ridiculous fee at departure. Travelers’ checks are nearly a thing of the past; you must have your passport in hand (not a photocopy) and initiate this transaction in a bank. Seems like a safe approach but it’s a whole lot of hassle and Casa de Cambios are much the same. Our advice: Don’t Bring Cash.
We use ATM’s in Puerto Vallarta. There’s a slim chance of being exposed to scams but they are avoidable if one keeps eyes open and makes a fair inspection of the ATM. This is not a situation related exclusively to Puerto Vallarta; we’ve heard crazy stories from amigos in the north with similar reports. Let your intuition be your canary in the coalmine. If something feels wrong, it probably is. If you see a handmade sign posted on the machine, walk away immediately. Check the part where the card is inserted; is it completely connected or does it wiggle (even slightly) when you try to move it? If it moves at all, it’s a skimmer, which is a device placed over the slot where your card goes in or is swiped. Don’t use it. They are amazingly deceptive but they can be spotted and it doesn’t require a trained eye.
We suggest using ATM’s in very public areas, preferably in supermarkets, where no one could possibly tamper with an ATM because there’s constant surveillance. In Puerto Vallarta, we like the ATM’s because they give us the best daily rate; we always pull out the maximum amount allowed to avoid multiple usage fees. Always shield your hand when putting in your PIN; that way anyone standing behind you can’t observe. And don’t accept help from anyone unless they are a friend or trusted bank/store employee.
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Thanks to our guest blogger Adam Garcia for this article! (opionons expressed are his own)
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