As you prepare for your vacation to Mexico, you might be concerned about how to pay for most of your enjoyable activities and cultural encounters. Mexico may not be free, but it indeed isn’t pricey either! Fortunately, debit and credit cards are now widely accepted in Mexico at most significant restaurants, hotels, and stores. Debit card usage, however, may result in withdrawals, international transactions, and foreign currency costs. You may also use your debit card to withdraw cash from an ATM. The majority of Mexican cities have a plethora of ATMs, or “cajeros,” as they are known in Spanish.
Can I Use My Visa Debit Card in Mexico?
Yes, you can use your Visa Debit Card in Mexico. A Visa Debit card is accepted on ATMs in Mexico, restaurants, hotels, big shops, gas stations, and other important tourist places. However, small markets and local shops in Mexico, as well as convenience stores & museums, usually accept only cash.
Most major cities and tourist destinations in Mexico accept the three main credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, and American Express. Your debit card will be accepted at larger businesses with electronic payment systems, such as hotels and restaurants. Although not all locations can accept debit and credit cards, you must be aware of this. It is particularly valid for small stores and companies like food carts and cabs. You should have funds on hand to make these payments.
Your debit card purchases in Mexico will be processed in Mexican pesos and converted to your home currency at the end of your trip. Over the past ten years, there have been 10 to 20 peso fluctuations in the value of the Mexican peso relative to the U.S. dollar. Check the currency rate before leaving to determine how much you will be charged for the goods.
Most major cities and tourist destinations in Mexico accept the three main credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. Some establishments also accept Discover. However, more remote places and numerous small shops in Mexico could only take a specific type of card or demand cash. One of the essential tasks is always to try to check overseas transaction fees. Foreign transaction fees can add 2–5% to each transaction, which can be dangerous.
If you reserve travel or lodging in advance with one card, you shouldn’t have trouble using it in Mexico without having your account temporarily frozen. However, if you want to use other credit card companies, you might wish to let them know that you will be in Mexico. Many banks will temporarily freeze your account to stop fraud if they see an unexpected charge or a charge from a strange place. If you tell them ahead of time that you are going, this might not happen.
I was in Mexico 3 years ago, just before COVID-19. In the restaurant, all staff accepts Visa debit cards. However, if you want to visit some exciting place, museum, or historical place – you need to have a cache because no one will accept your Visa debit card or any other card.
If you want to tip your waiter, try always to give them paper bills instead of coins.
What are the ways to spend money in Mexico?
The ways to spend money in Mexico are using a prepaid travel card, a debit card, a credit card, paying with cash, and using traveler’s checks.
Travel cards are an excellent option for taking money abroad and using it in other currencies. Central tourist locations like Tijuana, Cancun, and Acapulco have businesses that take both U.S. dollars and pesos loaded onto a card. Using a debit card in Mexico offers advantages and disadvantages, just like using a credit card does. When comparing cards, consider those without ATM or international transaction fees. Since some debit cards are made to be used abroad, they don’t charge fees for transactions made outside of the country.
You can use credit cards almost anywhere; however, buses, the majority of taxis, tour guides, corner stores, and taquerias do not accept them. Use a credit card like the Chase Freedom Preferred Card to avoid international transaction fees. When you include the interest you’ll pay for one cash advance transaction, the ATM charge will seem small in comparison. Mexico accepts American Express cards, but not as commonly as Visa and Mastercard. If you wish to use your American Express card to withdraw money from an ATM, look for HSBC and Scotiabank ATMs.
In Mexico, particularly in the popular tourist areas, USD is accepted. At some shops, you can choose to pay in dollars or pesos, and the seller will offer you the “over-the-counter exchange rate” between the two. Most stores in Mexico use a conversion rate of 10 pesos to $1, which means that if you pay in dollars, the price of the item could go up by as much as 30%. Use Mexican pesos to stretch your budget. Since credit and debit cards have become safer and more secure, traveler’s checks are no longer an excellent way to pay for travel.
Why do You Still Need Cash In Mexico?
Mexico is a potential cash-focused culture country. The use of debit & credit cards is growing daily, but extreme locations in Mexico still prefer cash transactions. Markets, Shops, Convenience stores & museums in Mexico prefer transactions in cash only.
Check your credit and debit card issuer’s website (whether it’s a U.S.-based company or one from another country) to find ATMs that dispense cash near your hotel. You should also be informed of how various businesses in Mexico like to conduct business. Except in specific tourist-heavy locations, many toll roads do not take U.S. credit cards or currencies. Many taxis, owned and operated independently or in smaller cities and towns, only accept cash. Purchasing an IAVE pass in advance could make sense if you plan to make a lot of trips on toll roads. It’s an electronic payment card that lets you pay for tolls ahead of time or have your Visa or Mastercard credit or debit card charged automatically. It enables you to get through toll booths faster and save money on tolls.
The vast majority of Mexicans prefer to use cash for the majority of their transactions. According to the latest reports from Mexican banks in 2022, most respondents chose cash as a payment method before and during the COVID-19 outbreak (67%). 76% of respondents to the report’s poll thought that banknotes and coins were Covid-19 transmission vectors, whereas just 36% thought that debit and credit cards posed a comparable danger.
Men aged 60 and older are 5% less likely than women to make the entire credit card payment.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, 73% of consumers preferred using cash for purchases under MX$500 (US$25.24), and this preference has not changed significantly following the pandemic (75%). The percentage of people who preferred cash-in purchases between MX$500 and MX$1,000 (US$25.24 and US$50.47) decreased from 53% before the pandemic to 45% after the COVID-19 outbreak. Before the epidemic, 42% of people preferred to pay cash for purchases exceeding MX$1,000 (US$50.47); after the COVID-19 outbreak, just 38% of people still did.
What are the Fees Applied to using Visa Debit Card in Mexico?
American Express levies a 2% fee for transactions made with its cards outside the United States. If they do, it typically costs between $1 and 1% of the money withdrawn, which will be less than the “markup” on the exchange rate when converting U.S. dollars to Mexican pesos through a bank and currency exchange.
Your bank’s daily withdrawal limit determines how much you may withdraw. The withdrawal fee is the amount your bank assesses for out-of-network or foreign usage. Several banks in Mexico might not impose an ATM usage fee. If they do, it typically costs between $1 and 1% of the money withdrawn; it is lower than the “markup” f-network, or the withdrawal fee is foreign usage. Several banks in Mexico might not impose an ATM usage fee. If they do, it typically costs between $1 and 1% of the money withdrawn; it is lower than the “markup” on the exchange rate when converting U.S. dollars to Mexican pesos through a bank and currency exchange.
The cost may not be disclosed to you during the transaction, as is common when using ATMs abroad and in the U.S. Instead of being added to the amount charged to the account separately, the fee is withdrawn during the transaction. It will be identified as an ISF fee in the transaction details. Many U.S. financial institutions will charge you a fee if you withdraw money from a foreign ATM. However, Schwab, Fidelity, and PayPal are those that won’t (or will charge you just $1). For non-Bank of America and non-Wells Fargo ATM usage, there is a $5 fee.
American Express levies a two-percent fee for transactions made with its cards outside the United States. Ultimately, you could pay 10% more than you would have if you had paid in cash. Ask your credit card provider about their overseas regulations before using plastic as your primary form of payment while on vacation.
Planning and researching different payment methods before your next vacation to Mexico is wise. In Mexico, debit and credit cards are widely used and accepted at most upscale eateries, inns, and retail establishments. We advise you to speak with your bank ahead of time to learn about potential overseas costs and to get advice on which ATMs will be the most convenient for you to withdraw cash. Also, you should have more than one way to pay in case you lose your card, or something goes wrong that you didn’t plan for.