In years past, foreign currency exchange used to necessarily involve buying foreign cash in your home country or more usually, taking traveler’s checks on your journey for exchange overseas. In either case, money exchange involved spending time and effort lining up at banks or exchange houses to get access to local currency.
The advent of ATMs has completely changed the landscape of foreign currency trades, and both visitors and foreign residents living in San Miguel de Allende have come to rely upon ATMs as a means for obtaining local currency from their foreign-based bank accounts.
Fees for use of bank cards in overseas ATMs have gradually increased over the last decade, through the exchange rate ‘spread’ (the difference between the buy and sell rate of foreign currency) remains competitive and in-line with live international foreign exchange rate market prices. Exact charges differ by bank and account type: check with your bank to find out what they charge for when you use your card abroad. Note also that Mexican banks charge a small (separate) fee for each withdrawal.
It’s worth pointing out that cash withdrawn at Mexican ATMs using foreign credit card accounts, as distinct from ‘debit’ cards linked to accounts with your own checking or savings funds, is one of the most expensive ways to borrow money.
Taking some cash (US and CA dollars, British Pounds, Euros, and Yen are immediately trade-able at Mexico City’s international airport) and exchanging it in San Miguel de Allende can be one of the best ways to trade your foreign currency; albeit it carries the highest risk of unforeseen loss.