Going to Mexico? A guide to using your credit card in Mexico | November 2018
Hand holding credit card with Mexican flag on the background

Using a credit card in Mexico

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

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 accepted widely at most larger hotels and restaurants. However, you should carry some cash wherever you go, as many small merchants won’t take cards. If you’re going to a big tourist city like Cabo San Lucas or Cancun, you can often use US dollars — but the local merchants are likely to give you poor exchange rates.

Our pick for use in Mexico: Hilton Honors American Express Card

  • Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Honors portfolio of brands.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
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Compare credit cards for use in Mexico

When traveling in Mexico or anywhere else abroad, be sure to get a card without foreign transaction fees. Although they may seem small, these fees can rack up quickly over the course of a trip.

Name Product Currency Conversion Fee Annual Fee APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases
None
$0
17.74% to 26.74% variable
Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Rates & Fees
None
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.74% to 26.74% variable
30,000 bonus miles after you use your new card to make $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
None
$250
See Rates & Fees
50,000 bonus Membership Rewards® Points when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months Rates & Fees
None
$550
None (Charge Card)
Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com. Rates & Fees
None
$0 annual fee for the first year ($89 thereafter)
17.99%, 21.99% or 24.99% variable
Enjoy 60,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
None
$95
17.74% to 26.74% variable
Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 or more in purchases with your new card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Rates & Fees
None
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.74% to 26.74% variable
Enjoy a $0 annual fee on the first year and earn up to 2 Starpoints® for every dollar of eligible purchases. Rates & Fees
None
$195
16.99% variable
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
None
$0
14.99%, 18.99% or 24.99% variable
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. See Rates and Fees.
None
$495
16.99% variable
Mastercard Black Card members receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.

Compare up to 4 providers

Potential credit card fees in Mexico

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

  • Foreign transaction fees. Depending on your card, you could pay a fee of up to 3% of each transaction you make. That means $2,000 spent in Mexico would cost you $60 in fees.
  • Currency conversion fees. An ATM or a merchant might offer you the option to pay in US dollars. This is known as a dynamic currency conversion (DCC), and it usually has higher fees and a double exchange rate.

Can I incur both fees on a single transaction?

Yes. Avoid this by getting a card without foreign transaction fees and always decline DCC if offered.

Are american express and discover accepted in mexico?

American Express cards are widely accepted in Mexico, but not as much as Visa or Mastercard. If you want to use an ATM to withdraw cash with your Amex card, look for HSBC or Scotiabank ATMs.

Discover cards are rarely accepted, but know that you can use your card wherever you see the Discover logo or Diners Club International. If you want to use an ATM, look for Citibanamex ATMs.

Should I use my credit card to get cash?

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.

It’s best to use a debit card at an ATM. That’s because your credit card will probably charge a cash advance fee when you withdraw money. Further, you’ll immediately start accruing interest on the amount you withdraw. You may still pay ATM fees when you use your debit card, but at least you’ll avoid paying interest.

What is a cash advance fee?

A cash advance fee is assessed when you withdraw cash from your credit card. It’s usually the greater of a flat fee or a percentage of the transaction. For example, the cash advance fee for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card is either $10 or 5% of each transaction, whichever is greater.

Do taxis in Mexico accept credit cards?

No. However, if you prefer to pay with your card, you can use Uber. It’s cheaper and you won’t have to worry about having cash in you.

Chip-and-PIN credit cards

In the United States, we’ve been using magnetic-stripe — or magstripe — credit cards for years. Only recently have we started the transition to microchip-embedded cards. What you may not know is that many countries around the world have already adopted these chip cards. We’re simply catching up.

In Mexico, chip cards are the standard. You can use a magstripe card at many locations, but you may run into merchants who will only accept chip cards.

It’s a good idea to get either a chip-and-PIN or a chip-and-signature card before traveling.

  • With a chip-and-PIN card, you insert your card and enter a PIN to complete your transaction.
  • With a chip-and-signature card, you complete your transaction with your signature.

Chip-and-PIN cards are becoming the norm around the world, so you may want to upgrade to one eventually. However, a chip-and-signature card should be widely accepted during your trip to Mexico — you’ll simply sign your receipt when prompted.

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 in 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.
  • Take two cards. A second card can be useful if you lose your first card or if it gets blocked. That way, you won’t be left without money.
  • Keep your card in sight. To avoid card cloning, make sure you keep an eye on your card whenever you use it to pay.

How to prepare before traveling to Mexico

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

  1. Get a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. Many cards will charge a 3% fee when you use your card abroad, so be on the lookout for cards that don’t. The best travel cards — such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card, Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® and The Platinum Card® from American Express — charge no foreign transaction fees.
  2. Give your card provider a heads up. If your 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 traveling to Mexico.
  3. Know what number to call if you have problems with your card while traveling. Your card might get stolen while you’re traveling, or you could lose it. In these cases, you’ll want to know the right number to call to get a replacement. Ask your provider for a Mexican phone number you can dial in a pinch.
  4. Know where you’ll get cash once you arrive. Even if you have a credit card, it’s smart to have cash on you. 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. However, some of the smaller merchants may accept only cash. If you want to make cash withdrawals, consider getting a debit card, which usually has no cash advance fees. You can also get a travel card and decline DCC when offered to avoid additional fees and poor exchange rates.

Frequently asked questions

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Kevin Joey Chen

Kevin Chen is a world-travelin', copy-writin', Game of Thrones-watchin' credit cards writer for finder.com. When he's not crunching the numbers on bonus points and comparing APRs, you can find him flying around the world in search of the perfect beer.

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Deserve® Classic Card
Deserve® Classic Card

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Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™
Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™

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First Access Visa Card®
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5 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    RobSeptember 19, 2018

    There are heaps of options for saving money with ATM withdrawals and spending overseas. Checkout monzo, revolut, and TransferWise. You can use these cards freely with no fees when making purchases with them. They also use the interbanking rate for conversions (not the consumer rate like these Banks). As for ATM withdrawals, they give you a free amount per month to withdrawal after that it is a 2% fee (which still beats most banks). The trick is to sign up to all of them to multiple your limits. This is also a good idea as you have more cards travelling in case of robbery or you lose your card somewhere. Keep them in separate places. Etc

  2. Default Gravatar
    BobAugust 27, 2018

    is there a regional lock on cc in northern mexico because every time i travel down there its a hassle to use mine

    • finder Customer Care
      johnbasanesAugust 28, 2018Staff

      Hi Bob,

      Thank you for leaving a question on finder.

      You may want to contact your credit card provider regarding this concern to check if there are restrictions on your card. Based on recent updates, there are no restrictions in the usage of credit cards in Mexico.

      Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Reggie

  3. Default Gravatar
    MariaJuly 24, 2018

    I want to know if the Visa Card from UBA is valid and if it can be used in Mexico. Thanks.

    • finder Customer Care
      JhezelynJuly 24, 2018Staff

      Hello Maria,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Yes, you can use this card in Mexico as long as it has a Visa logo. The UBA Visa Classic Debit Card can be used in Visa enabled ATMs in over 200 countries and can purchase at merchant locations where Visa is accepted worldwide.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

US Credit Card Offers

Important Information*
Deserve® Classic Card
Deserve® Classic Card

APR

24.49
variable

Annual fee

0 For the first year
More info
Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™
Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™

APR

16.74
variable

Annual fee

995 For the first year
More info
First Access Visa Card®
First Access Visa Card®

APR

29.99
variable

Annual fee

75 For the first year
More info
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card

APR

23.9
variable

Annual fee

75 For the first year
More info
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