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Using a credit card in Mexico

Get the lowdown on how to pick the best credit card for your trip to Mexico.

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If you’re heading to Mexico, you might be wondering whether you can use your credit card there. Fortunately, the answer is yes.

Credit cards are widely accepted at most hotels, restaurants and shops in touristic areas and big cities, however, there are still many towns and villages that operate on a cash-only basis. While you can anticipate using your credit card frequently, you should always carry some cash wherever you go – as many small merchants won’t take cards.

Compare credit cards for use in Mexico

When travelling in Mexico or anywhere else overseas, be sure to get a credit card that charges no foreign transaction fees. Although this charge is usually only 2.5% to 3% of your transaction cost, these fees can rack up quickly over the course of a trip.
Name Product Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee Minimum Income Benefits with this card Description
HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®
19.9%
22.9%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($149 thereafter)
$80,000
Earn 3% in travel rewards on all eligible travel purchases (6 Points per $1 spent) and earn 1.5% in travel rewards on all other eligible purchases (3 Points per $1 spent).
Earn up to 40,000 Points ($200 travel value), plus a full annual fee rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year ($149 value). Apply by March 29, 2021. Conditions Apply. This offer is only available to residents of Canada other than the province of Quebec (Quebec residents eligible for separate offer).
BMO U.S. Dollar Mastercard
19.99%
22.99%
$35 USD
$15,000
Receive an annual fee rebate with a minimum yearly spend of US$1,000. Plus, spend in US Dollars with no exchange rate surprises.
When your purchases total US$1,000 or more in a year, the next year's annual fee (US$35) is rebated to your card.
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card
19.99%
22.99%
$120
$12,000
Earn 5 Scotia Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible grocery, dining and entertainment purchases, 3 points per $1 spent on eligible gas, transportation and select streaming services, and 1 point per $1 spent on eligible purchases elsewhere.
Earn 25,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points when you spend at least $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months. Apply by February 28, 2021.
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card
19.99%
22.99%
$139
$60,000
Earn 2 Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible grocery store, dining, entertainment and daily transit purchases, and earn 1 Scotia Rewards point for every $1 spent elsewhere.
Earn up to 30,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points (up to a $300 travel value) in your first year. Apply by February 28, 2021.
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Canadian Visa and Mastercard credit cards are widely accepted abroad. Check with your bank before traveling to Mexico to confirm whether or not you’ll be able to use your credit card during your trip.
Name Product Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee Minimum Income Benefits with this card Description
BMO World Elite Mastercard
19.99%
22.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($150 thereafter)
$80,000
Get 3 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible travel, dining and entertainment purchases (up to $50,000 spend annually), and get 2 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases (and once you reach the $50,000 annual spend).
Get up to $575 in value in your first year. Get a bonus of 40,000 BMO Rewards points ($285 travel value booked on bmorewards.com). Plus, get the $150 annual fee waived in the first year.
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
1.95% intro APR for the first 6 months, 19.95% thereafter
19.95%
$0
$12,000
Earn 2% cash back in two categories of your choice (or three categories if you open a Tangerine Savings Account and directly deposit your cash back into the account), and 0.5% cash back on everything else.
Get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening).
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
12.99%
12.99%
$20
$15,000
Take advantage of an introductory balance transfer offer, annual fee waiver in the first year, and low purchase and cash advance interest rates.
Get a rate of 3.99% on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee. Plus, get the $20 annual fee waived in the first year.
BMO eclipse Visa Infinite
20.99%
23.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
$60,000
Earn 5x the BMO Points for every $1 spent on groceries, dining in and out, gas and transit.
Get up to 40,000 points and the $120 annual fee waived in the first year. Earn 25,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months and get 15,000 points on your first anniversary.
Shell AIR MILES Mastercard from BMO
19.99%
22.99%
$0
$15,000
Get 3x the AIR MILES for every $25 spent at eligible AIR MILES partners, and get 1 AIR MILE for every $25 spent elsewhere.
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash).
HSBC +Rewards™ Mastercard®
11.9%
11.9%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($25 thereafter)
N/A
Earn 2x the rewards on eligible dining and entertainment.
Earn 30,000 Points ($150 travel value), plus get a full annual fee rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year ($25 value). Apply by March 29, 2021. Conditions Apply. This offer is only available to residents of Canada other than the province of Quebec (Quebec residents eligible for separate offer).
BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege
20.99%
23.99%
$499
$150,000
Earn 5x the BMO Points for every $1 spent on groceries, dining in and out, drugstore purchases, gas and travel.
Get up to 50,000 welcome points. Earn 35,000 points when you spend at least $5,000 in the first three months and get 15,000 points on your first anniversary.
Shell AIR MILES World Mastercard from BMO
19.99%
22.99%
$99
$60,000
Earn 1 Mile per $15 spent on all eligible purchases.
Earn 1 Mile per $15 spent on all eligible purchases.
HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®
19.9%
22.9%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($149 thereafter)
$80,000
Earn 3% in travel rewards on all eligible travel purchases (6 Points per $1 spent) and earn 1.5% in travel rewards on all other eligible purchases (3 Points per $1 spent).
Earn up to 40,000 Points ($200 travel value), plus a full annual fee rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year ($149 value). Apply by March 29, 2021. Conditions Apply. This offer is only available to residents of Canada other than the province of Quebec (Quebec residents eligible for separate offer).
BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard
19.99%
22.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
$80,000
Earn 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases.
Get up to 10% cash back in your first 3 months and the $120 annual fee waived in the first year.
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Potential credit card fees in Mexico

If you use your credit card in Mexico, you could incur the following fees:

  • Foreign transaction fees. When you spend on your credit card overseas, you will be charged a fee of around 2.5% to 3% of your transaction cost. Known as a foreign transaction fee, this charge can be avoided with a credit card that charges no foreign transaction fees.
  • Currency conversion fees. A merchant might offer you the option to pay in Canadian dollars instead of Mexican pesos. This is known as a dynamic currency conversion (DCC) and it usually has higher fees and a double exchange rate. Always pay in Mexican pesos instead of Canadian dollars.

Can I incur both fees on a single transaction?

Yes, you can be charged both foreign transaction fees and currency conversion fees on a single transaction. Avoid this by getting a card with no foreign transaction fees and always decline paying in Canadian dollars if offered.

Are American Express credit cards accepted in Mexico?

American Express cards are widely accepted in some parts of Mexico – but not as much as Visa or Mastercard. If you want to use your Amex card in Mexico, it’s best to also travel with a Visa or Mastercard in case your Amex is not accepted.

Should I use my credit card to get cash?

Avoid using your credit card to take out cash since you will be charged a withdrawal fee and interest on the total withdrawn amount. Unlike purchasing an item on your credit card, cash advance interest is charged from the day you withdraw the cash – there is no grace period. Only use your credit card to withdraw cash in an emergency situation.

It’s easy to get cash in Mexico as ATMs are widespread. Still, consider getting cash only from ATMs at bank branches, where you’re less likely to become a victim of fraud. Using your debit card to withdraw cash will help you avoid the cash advance interest rate that comes with a credit card, however you may still incur an ATM fee. To avoid the ATM fee, consider getting a debit card from a bank that has a widespread network of global ATMs. A global alliance of ATMs allows you to withdraw money from specific ATMs without incurring a fee.

Many merchants will also accept US dollars, especially if you’re in big tourist cities like Cabo San Lucas or Cancun, but the local merchants are likely to give you poor exchange rates — so it’s best to avoid paying with USD unless necessary.

What is a cash advance fee?

A cash advance fee is charged when you withdraw cash using your credit card. The fee is usually the greater of a flat fee or a percentage of the transaction. For example, you could be charged $10 or 5% of each transaction, whichever is greater.

Is it safe to use my credit card in Mexico?

It’s generally safe to use a credit card in Mexico. However, you should always try to:

  • Use an ATM inside a bank. If for some reason your card gets stuck in the ATM, you can quickly get it back. Also, it’s less likely that an ATM in a bank has card skimming devices attached to it. If the buttons on the ATM are hard to press or you’re having a hard time inserting your card, there may be a skimmer on the ATM. If this is the case, immediately cancel your transaction.
  • Take two credit cards. A second card can be useful if one card doesn’t work with a certain merchant, you lose your first card or if one card gets blocked by your bank. That way, you won’t be left without money. Consider bringing at least one credit card that charges no foreign transaction fees.
  • Keep your card in sight at all times. To avoid card cloning, make sure you keep an eye on your credit card whenever you use it to pay. In addition, keep it close to you at all times to avoid it being stolen.

How to prepare before travelling to Mexico

Before you leave for Mexico, make a few arrangements to ensure you can use your credit card without a hitch.

  1. Get a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. Many cards will charge a 2.5% to 3% fee when you use your card overseas, so be on the lookout for cards that charge no foreign transaction fees.
  2. Give your card provider a heads up. If your bank or credit card company sees a foreign transaction on your card, they may put a hold on your account for suspicious activity. To avoid this, give your provider a quick call letting them know you’ll be travelling to Mexico.
  3. Keep phone numbers handy. Your card might get stolen while you’re travelling, or you could lose it. In these cases, you’ll want to know the right number to call to get a replacement card.
  4. Know where you’ll get cash once you arrive. Many merchants in Mexico still accept only cash, so it’s smart to have cash on you at all times. So you don’t waste time or money, plan out beforehand where you’ll get your cash. Check if your bank has international partnerships that allow you to use some ATMs for free.

How to use a credit card in …

Bottom line

Credit cards are widely accepted in Mexico, especially in most hotels and restaurants, as well as touristic areas. However, some of the smaller merchants in towns and villages may accept only cash. Since you’ll likely need to make cash withdrawals, consider getting a debit card that charges no ATM fees when you withdraw money internationally.

When considering which credit cards to take on your trip, opt for a credit card that charges no foreign transaction fees. In addition, decline paying in Canadian dollars when offered to avoid paying currency conversion fees.

Frequently asked questions

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