Banking Information/Currency Converter
Naturally, the exchange rate varies daily, but has been around $18.5 pesos to one US dollar for the past several months. The Canadian dollar has been at or above $14 CAD to one Mexican peso since the end of May. Click on the XE.com currency conversion link (above) to see today’s current value of the Mexican peso against other currencies.
It is worth noting that in the entire modern era of Mexico, it has experienced few, if any, bank failures. Also noteworthy, is the higher rate of interest available here.
There are several full-service banks in the Ajijic, Lake Chapala area, including Bancomer, Banamex (affiliated with Citibank) and Banca Santander-Serfin (affiliated with Bank of America). All the banks at Lakeside have some English-speaking personnel.
Scotiabank also has a presence at Lakeside, as well as in Guadalajara. There’s an ATM on the Carretera in the strip mall near Domino’s, across from Tobolandía. However, Canadian cash is very difficult to exchange, and most businesses will not accept Canadian traveler’s checks.
Non-banks offering financial services include investment firms such as Actinver Lloyd (Ajijic & Chapala) and Multivalores in Ajijic.
Automated Teller Machine’s (Cajeros Automáticos) Instructions for operating an ATM in Mexico
ATM’s are available at all of the banks, at the Guadalajara International Airport, Walmart in Ajijic, and in serveral other convenient locations throughout the area. The best exchange rates are available at the ATM’s, and it’s possible to withdraw up to $7,500 pesos (about $398 USD) in one transaction from certain banks. Some machines offer instructions in both English and Spanish, but if you find yourself at one that has only Español, click on the above link for the English translation, which you can print and take with you.
Exchanging Money – (Casa de Cambio)
Currency Exchanges will also cash travelers checks, and are available at the Guadalajara International Airport, as well as at many convenient locations throughout the area.
Foreign personal checks are very difficult to cash, even if you have a Mexican bank account; American Express Travelers Checks are the easiest. Note: you will be required to show your Passport.
Although a few shops and restaurants in the Ajijic, Lake Chapala area are now accepting credit cards, in general, this is a cash economy. Credit cards are widely accepted in nearby Guadalajara at shopping malls, department stores, shops and restaurants.
As a US citizen retiring in Mexico, you may still receive your Social Security check. Many retirees in Mexico prefer using a direct deposit system to avoid having to wait for a check to arrive in the mail.
Ask your bank teller for the necessary paperwork to arrange to have your check deposited directly into your bank account each month. Bilingual ATMs are available at almost any Mexican bank and withdrawals are easy and safe.
“Mexico’s First Bank for Foreign Residents”
Located on the Plaza in Ajijic, and at the main intersection in Chapala.
BBVA Bancomer, Mexico’s first banking institution, is also the first bank to cater to the special needs of foreign residents and visitors, using not only the English language, but also the same financial language as you are accustomed to back home. This is achieved though their unique Preferred Customers’ Unit.
By using their integrated banking services, you are able to manage all of your financial matters securely and efficiently, and at considerably lower costs than if you had to access your accounts back home. You also receive preferential treatment at their branch offices.