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Using a credit card in Mexico

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

Updated

Fact checked

Our pick for use in Mexico: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card logo

80,000-point

Signup bonus after spending $4,000 in first 3 months

  • Signup bonus worth $1,000 with Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 1:1 point transfer to partner hotels and airlines
  • Low annual fee for a travel card
Apply now
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.

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 Foreign transaction fee Annual fee Purchase APR Filter values
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
None
$95
15.99% to 22.99% variable
Earn a huge signup bonus worth $$1,000 with this popular travel card. Combine with other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards for even greater value.
American Express® Gold Card
None
$250
Earn up to 4x points on select purchases, a bevy of travel perks, and a welcome offer worth up to $350 with this upper-mid tier travel card. Rates & fees
Petal® Visa® Credit Card
None
$0
12.99% to 29.49% variable
Build your credit with rewards and no fees: Apply if you're new to credit or have a fair to good score of 600 or higher. See if you prequalify with no impact to your score.
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
None
$0
15.24% variable
An impressive cashback card that offers up to 4% back on everyday purchases like gas, travel and dining all for the cost of a Costco membership.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
None
$550
16.99% to 23.99% variable
Get a generous $300 in annual travel credits, 3x points on travel and dining, and a 50% bonus on point redemptions with Chase's premier card.
Luxury Card Mastercard® Titanium Card™
None
$195
14.99% variable
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
CardMatch™ from creditcards.com
See terms
See issuer's website
Use the CardMatch tool to find cards you're likely to qualify for with your credit score, without a hard pull on your credit.
The World of Hyatt Credit Card
None
$95
15.99% to 22.99% variable
Earn 25,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. 25,000 points after spending another $6,000 in the first 6 months.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
None
$149
15.99% to 22.99% variable
Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening.
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
None
$89
15.99% to 22.99% variable
140,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
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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.

Which credit card issuers are 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.

Merchant acceptance
ATM acceptance
Visa
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh
Mastercard
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh
American Express
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh
Discover
exclamation point iconMedium
cross mark iconLow

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® 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® Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express (see rates & fees) — 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.

Bottom line

Mastercard, Visa and American Express 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.

See more guides on using a credit card in other countries.

Frequently asked questions

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7 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    CaroleDecember 10, 2018

    Is it better to use a pre-paid Visa while traveling in Mexico or should I use my Capital One credit card for all purchases?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      nikkiangcoDecember 13, 2018Staff

      Hi Carole,

      Thanks for reaching out! Ultimately, it will depend on where you are in Mexico and what you’re spending in. Essentially, a prepaid travel money card is good to save on foreign exchange fees. You’d also need a credit card for any emergencies that take place during your trip. Hope this was helpful. Don’t hesitate to message us back if you have more questions.

      Best,
      Nikki

  2. 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

  3. 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

    • Avatarfinder 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

  4. 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.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JhezJuly 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

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