ATMs in Mexico: Credit cards and fees

11.01.17
3 minute read
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There are plenty of reasons to visit Mexico. Whether you're kicking back in one of the many beach resorts, or working in one of Mexico’s bustling commercial hubs, you'll need some cash to make the most of your visit.

Using an ATM to withdraw cash on your travels can be a smart move. The rates are usually fair, and the convenience is undeniable. If you're planning on using ATMs to get hold of cash for your trip to Mexico, our quick guide can help.

Where will I find ATMs in Mexico?

One of the  advantages of using an ATM to access cash abroad is that you're seldom far from a bank, supermarket or attraction with an ATM.

In Mexico, major cities and resorts are well served by ATMs in local banks and stores, so you shouldn’t have a problem. However, due to some reported scams where your card is cloned in the machine, it's best to choose an ATM inside a bank branch, if possible. There’s far less likelihood that their machines will have been tampered with by crooks.

Can I use my regular debit or credit card?

Withdrawing funds in Mexico is easy enough if you're using a major credit or debit card. For credit card cash advances you’ll need to arrange a PIN number in advance of your trip. For security, your bank will only mail it directly to your normal address, so organise this in advance.

Depending on what type of card you are using, you can usually find a specific ATM locator, for example, you can use the [Visa ATM locator](http://www.visa.com/atmlocator/index.jsp#(page:home)), the American Express ATM locator, or the Discover ATM locator if you use one of those cards.

Mastercard, Cirrus and Maestro cards are all linked to a network of ATMs, and their locations can be found using the MasterCard ATM locator wherever in the world you happen to be.

It’s a good idea to inform your bank that you’ll be travelling to avoid any problems withdrawing money abroad. While the security measures in place help protect us from fraud, it’d be frustrating if you're can’t to withdraw money from your card because the bank has frozen it due to ‘suspicious’ activity.

What fees should I expect when using a Mexican ATM?

The fees you're charged will depend on both the ATM you use and the policy of your home bank.

In general, it’s best to avoid ATMs in cornershops or other dodgy locations as you’re more likely to be ripped off. Stick with ATMs of major banks if you can, as they’ll most likely give more fair rates.

The good news is that there are a number of ATMs in Mexico that don’t charge any fees. Even those which do charge tend to have a relatively low fee. Expect to see an extra $1 or 1% of the amount you're withdrawing added to your final bill.

However, keep in mind that your home bank may levy their own fees on top of anything the local Mexican bank adds. These charges might be called ‘international transaction charges’, or ‘non-bank ATM fees’. Often they are ‘per transaction’ charges that are designed to stop people from making multiple small withdrawals.

Expect to pay a couple of dollars (or even more) each time you withdraw money from the ATM and check what your bank charges before you travel. If you’re taking a credit card cash advance, the fees will be significantly higher.

How can I avoid ATM fees?

When you use a foreign bank card in an ATM, you may be asked if you would like to be charged in your home currency. This might sound like a good idea, if only just to simplify the calculation. But, when you look closely, it's actually not such a generous offer.

If you agree to be charged in your home currency, you’ll be assigned an exchange rate generated by the ATM’s bank. Don't fall for this foreign exchange rip off - you can bet the rate won’t be favourable. Get charged in the local currency instead in order to access the (fairer) rate used by your home bank or credit card provider.

Before you leave home, research whether your home bank has any partnership with a bank in Mexico. If it does, try to use the ATM of the partner bank, as you may find the fees are reduced or even waived. It only takes a minute to check.

ATMs have a lot going for them. They're quick, easy and never closed. Use these ideas to make sure you get the best deal when withdrawing cash at an ATM abroad.

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