The Banks used to give the best exchange rate but currently the money exchangers and frankly our own office are now the best place to change your traveler’s cheques or cash for pesos. We have got in with one of the biggest exchangers Cambiare Centenario who give us a wholesale rate that allows us to match the best outlets in town. Apparently the reason for this is that it avoids lineups at the banks who cater to their business clients first.
Don’t get too carried away, however, by rates. Firstly with the Banks, the rate is published at 11:00 A.M. only, so you can’t change Canadian funds before, either cash or travelers cheques. If you’ve waited through a half hour line-up (about the standard length of time), you may be displeased. Consider the line-up time, the value of your time before going to the Bank, or even a money changer. They all insist on picture I.D. whereas we simply want your suite number on the back of the traveler’s cheque. We also have sufficient cash on hand and if we don’t a quick motorcycle run to the changer will see you with all the cash you will need.
The change wickets are the next quickest and when you calculate the small differences (if any) juxtaposed to the amount that you’re changing, the exercise becomes fruitless to pursue the extra few centavos (100ths of a pesos).
For Canadian visitors when the $CDN is strong it is sometimes advantageous to change your money to U.S. Travellers cheques first as you will receive more pesos in the long run even incurring the exchange commission for two exchanges. Right now the Canadian dollar is getting almost $10 pesos. Makes one feel proud and helps when calculating the price in your currency of an article you are contemplating buying.
Traveler’s cheques also receive a premium over cash (foreign coin is not accepted at all) as the cost of them providing security for the cash to repatriate it to a North American clearing house (Dallas, New York, Los Angeles) is more expensive therefore, they give you less. It makes sense when you think about it even though you think it’s a mistake at first! The Banks seems to exploit this more than the moneychangers who seem to “blurr it.