This article is from the February 2002 The Mexico File
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A Visitor's Guide to Mexico's Banking and Communications
by Ron Mader
Ron Mader is a Mexico_based journalist and host of the popular Planeta website http://www.planeta.com Additional details about banking and communication are found online : http://www.planeta.com/ecotravel/mexico/mexbank.html
If you’re traveling in Mexico, there is no avoiding the fact that you’ll need money and you probably will need to call home from time to time. This guide helps visitors find their way through the labyrinths of banking and communication. And as of November 2001, the whole country has new local area codes. Have a great trip!
Banking in Mexico
Mexico’s currency is the peso, and prices are indicated by the “$” sign – which should not be confused with the U.S. dollar. The peso is divided into 100 centavos. Coins come in denominations of 10, 20 and 50 centavos and one, two, five, 10 and 20 pesos. Notes come in two, five, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 pesos.
You can exchange foreign currency at banks or at exchange houses (casas de cambio). Exchange rates will vary, and often you’ll get a better rate if you exchange currency instead of traveler’s checks. The exchange rate is particularly poor at hotels. I’ve found that while the Mexico City airport offers a good return, the Cancun airport offers one of the worst! Be cautious.
You can easily get a cash advance from an ATM machine at one of the major banks. While you will be charged a greater fee from your credit card company, this is relatively hassle free. Make sure you have your access number, because most companies have a policy of not reporting the number over the phone.
Banamex – http://www.banamex.com
Banco de Mexico – http://www.banxico.org.mx
Bancrecer – http://www.bancrecer.com.mx
Bancomext – http://www.bancomext.com
Banorte – http://www.banorte.com
Bital – http://www.bital.com.mx
Citibank Mexico – http://www.citibank.com/mexico
Santander – http://www.santander.com.mx
Scotiabank – http://www.scotiabankinverlat.com
Most public phones now take calling cards instead of coins, but just when you’re prepared to find one, you’ll come across the other type of phone. Ladatel calling cards are sold in either 20 or 50 peso denominations. They can be found at various stores and restaurants.
Calling other cities in Mexico, use the “01" national code and then the number. To call the United States or Canada from Mexico, dial “001" first and then area code and number. To call other countries, dial “00" first. Call international numbers collect by dialing “090" or national numbers collect by dialing “020.”
If you are calling Mexico from another country, the international code is “52.” Phone numbers include only the city code. For example, the city code for Mexico City is “55.” Thus calling a Mexico City phone number from the United States, you would dial “011_5255" and then the seven digit number.
If you already have an account with the following businesses, here are the toll_free numbers:
AT&T: 01_800_288_2872; 001_800_462_4240; 01_800_112_2020 (Spanish)
Teleglobe Canada: 01_800_123 0200
As of November 2001, Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara have a new 2_digit area code. A 3_digit area code has been added to calls to the rest of Mexico.
All of Mexico City phone numbers now have 8 digits when dialing the number in the city. If you have a 7_digit number, begin with the number “5.” This does not affect any calls to Mexico City from abroad or within the country, as the number “5" is dialed as the city code.
When making calls to “800" numbers in the United States, dial “001_880" then the 7_digit number.
Here are codes for some common destinations:
Ciudad Juarez: 656
Mexico City: 55
Nuevo Laredo: 867
Puerto Vallarta: 322
San Miguel de Allende: 415
Phone Company Websites
Alestra – http://www.alestra.com.mx
Avantel – http://www.avantel.com.mx
Telmex – http://www.online.telmex.net
World Wide Call Back – http://www.worldWideCallback.com
Post Office and Mail Services
From Mexico, it's very easy to send and receive mail. Sometimes the service
is a bit slow, but the correo is fairly reliable. Cities have post offices
as well as international courier services, such as United Parcel Service,
Federal Express and DHL.
Mail Service Websites
DHL _ http://www.dhl.com
Estafeta _ http://www.estafeta.com
Fedex _ http://www.fedex.com
UPS _ http://www.ups.com