Most business prefer that you use cash, they are charged a fee for accepting credit cards by their bank (just like anywhere else) and many business owners think that this 2% or so is too high and would rather risk loosing business than accept cards. Some businesses will accept cash but only for purchases over a certain amount or will tell you that there is a 5% surcharge for using your card. Cash is king here.
While most businesses will accept USD or Canadian Dollars, almost none will take Euro or British Pounds. More importantly, if they do accept those currencies you will get whatever exchange rate they feel like offering you that day, and it will never be as good as what you would get at an of your other options.
Your best bet is to use your own home bank to get pesos. Banks vary, but most of the big national banks like Wells Fargo and B of A have foreign currency or will order it for you. That way you have some pesos on hand as soon as you get off of the plane.
Your worst bet by far is to use the private ATM's like "CasHola" that dispense USD. Firstly, you will get charhed over $100 pesos to use the machine (a Bank charges $30-$50) secondly you will get whatever lousy exchange rate they feel like giving you and thirdly (depending on your bank) you will get charged a fee from your bank - triple hosed!
Upon arrival and just outside the immigration and customs you will find a bunch of ATM's, these are the major banks here in Mexico and they will give you the best exchange rate as well as the smallest ATM fee.
You can change money in banks, but it is often more convenient to change currency in a casa de cambio (exchange bureau). These businesses are open longer hours than banks, usually do not have long line-ups as banks often do, and they offer comparable exchange rates (though banks may offer a slightly better rate). Check around to see where you will receive the best exchange rate the exchange rate is usually posted prominently outside the bank or casa de cambio.
Exchange kiosk locations can be found throughout the entire Bahia de Banderas region. This makes it easy to exchange your currency to Mexican Pesos. The money exchanges do vary in what they charge, so be careful. For the most part, we have found them to be reliable and a good way to get a fair exchange.
Puerto Vallarta money exchange locations accept most major currencies for exchange into pesos. These currencies include, but are not limited to: U.S. Dollars, Canadian Dollars, and the Euro.
IMPORTANT: Federal law requires you to present your passport when exchanging money at a kiosk or at a bank.
ATMs in Mexico
Puerto Vallarta has an abundance of ATMs (cash machines), where you can withdraw Mexican pesos directly from your credit card or debit card. This is often the most convenient way of accessing money while traveling - it's safer than carrying cash and the exchange rate offered is usually very competitive. If you're going to be traveling in rural areas or staying in remote villages, be sure to take enough cash with you, as ATMs may be scarce.
PVT Tip: Businesses cannot accept more than $100 USD per transaction.
PVT Tip: Foreign coins have no value in Mexico.