The Complete Guide to Using ATMs in Mexico

The Complete Guide to Using ATMs in Mexico

If you’re moving or traveling to Mexico, understanding the ins and outs of using ATMs there is essential for convenient access to your funds.

This ensures you understand the potential fees and limitations associated with using a debit or credit card from another country while in Mexico, so you can decide whether to get a local card.

This article explores topics like which cards are accepted in Mexico, where you can use them, and how much you may pay to withdraw money, so you’re fully prepared for your move.

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Key Takeaways

  • Most ATMs in Mexico accept VISA, MasterCard, American Express, UnionPay, and more.
  • Only use an ATM that belongs to a major bank in Mexico when possible.
  • ATM withdrawal fees in Mexico can be high. So, your best bet is to use an ATM that will reimburse your withdrawal fee.
  • My personal favorite ATMs in Mexico are Banco Inbursa, Santander, and Citibanamex because of their low fees and availability.
  • Always decline the ATM exchange rate when it shows you a conversion.

Inform Your Bank

Before traveling or moving to Mexico, you should always inform your bank so they don’t block your card when you attempt to use a foreign ATM.

Which ATM Cards are Accepted in Mexico?

Most international debit and credit cards, especially those affiliated with major networks like Visa and Mastercard, are generally recognized and can be used at any ATM throughout the country.

Here’s a list of cards that most ATMs in Mexico accept:

  • Mastercard
  • Visa
  • American Express
  • Maestro
  • Discover
  • Cirrus
  • Plus
  • UnionPay
  • Diner’s Club
  • JCB
  • Maestro

Most ATMs have logos of the cards you can use on the actual machine, and many card companies have global ATM locators you can use to find an ATM that accepts your card.

Which ATMs Can You Use?

You can use any ATM in Mexico, but there are typically two types:

  • Independent ATMs
  • ATMs that belong to major banks.

The independent ones are more common, especially in touristy areas, but they generally charge higher fees, so using one from a major bank is a better option, as it also minimizes the risk of fraud.

If you live in Canada, the United States, or Europe, you may already have a card with one of the major banks in Mexico, such as BBVA, Scotiabank, and Santander, but even if you don’t, you should still be able to use their ATM.

Here’s a list of the other major banks in Mexico that may accept your credit or debit card:

  • Citibanamex (previously Banamex)
  • Banorte
  • HSBC
  • Banco Inbursa
  • BBVA
  • Scotiabank
  • Santander

How to Withdraw Money Using an ATM in Mexico

Using an ATM in Mexico is a straightforward process, especially since you can change the language to English on most machines.

Here are the steps you can follow to withdraw money:

  1. Locate an ATM: Start by finding an ATM, preferably one with a recognized bank in a well-lit area. Just look out for the words “Cajeros Automáticos.”
  2. Insert your card: Find the slot for your credit or debit card and insert it.
  3. Select language: Most ATMs offer language options, so you won’t need to bank in Spanish if you don’t speak the language yet.
  4. Enter your PIN: Enter your PIN using the keypad to access your account.
  5. Select withdrawal amount: Choose the desired amount in Mexican pesos to pay fewer conversion fees.
  6. Choose account type: You may be given the option to choose between checking or savings if you’re using a debit card.
  7. Take your money, receipt, and card: When the transaction is complete, don’t forget to take your cash, receipt (since it contains some of your personal information), and your card.

ATM Fees

ATM fees may be more expensive in Mexico compared to your home country, especially when using an international card.

Mexico cash
Withdrawing money from an ATM can be expensive in Mexico.

To save money on ATM fees, it’s always better in Mexico to open a local bank account, transfer your money there, and withdraw it at the bank.

Please note that to open a bank account in Mexico, you need to be a resident here.

Here are two common fees you can expect:

Exchange Rate Fees

Banks and independent ATM owners typically set their own exchange rate, which often differs from the official rates.

This means you lose some money on the exchange when withdrawing pesos. And the exchange rate fee can be very expensive. For example, Scotia Bank may charge upto 12% of the exchange rate.

To minimize this loss, you should ALWAYS DECLINE the ATM’s exchange rate when it shows you a conversion.

Then, the exchange rate will be charged by your bank, which is normally much cheaper than the ATM exchange rate in Mexico.

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Withdrawal Fees

Most ATMs charge a withdrawal fee for using a card outside their network. This means if you use a Scotiabank card from Canada at a Scotiabank ATM in Mexico, you won’t have to pay any withdrawal fees.

Everyone else can expect to pay between 20 to 150 pesos to withdraw their money.

Some ATMs charge a percentage of the money you withdraw instead, typically 1% of the amount you want to withdraw, but the machine will list the fee before you complete the transaction, so if it’s too high for your liking,
you can try another ATM.

Best ATM to Use in Mexico

I always used Banco Inbursa ATM as it has the lowest withdrawal fee at 22.04 pesos, compared to BBVA’s 174 peso withdrawal fee, this is a steal.

Inbursa also offers a fair exchange rate, typically only a few pesos off from the market rate, but you can check their website beforehand for the exact price.

Other good ATMs you can withdraw your money in Mexico are: Santander and Citibanamex (Banamex).

Alternatively, you can use an ATM card that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee.

Withdrawal Limits

Mexican ATMs typically have daily withdrawal limits, typically between 5,000 pesos to 10,000 pesos per transaction, but HSBC offers a high withdrawal limit at 15,000 pesos.

If you need to take out more than that in a day, you may have to use multiple ATMs, but don’t forget that your home bank also sets a withdrawal limit.

Check with your bank to determine that limit before you travel as your transactions will be rejected if you go over it unknowingly.

Where to Find ATMs in Mexico

ATMs are widespread in Mexico, especially in busy tourist spots. You can find them in airports, malls, bank branches, grocery stores, convenience stores like 7-11, gas stations, and even on the street, but it’s always best to use ATMs in well-lit areas to stay safe.

Tourist area in Mexico
While you can find an ATM everywhere in Mexico, it’s best to use ATMs in well-lit areas to stay safe.

If you’re in the countryside or are just having trouble finding an ATM, use Google Maps to search for one. It may not bring up all the major ATMs in your area, but you should be able to find one that’s available.

Mexican ATM Cards

If you plan to stay in Mexico long-term, it may be easier to get a local debit card.

Opening a Bank Account

Opening a bank account in Mexico is fairly straightforward if you are a resident.

All you need to do is bring your government-issued ID (like a passport), proof of address, a local number for authentication purposes, and a Mexico resident card.

You may be required to provide a character reference as well, which you can obtain from your employer.

Take all these documents to a bank to open your account, and the teller will walk you through the necessary paperwork. Some banks require an opening deposit of 800 to 1,000 pesos, which you’ll later see in your account.

Once your account is set up, you can ask your employer to pay you directly into it, and you can also send money from home to your Mexican account, making it cheaper to withdraw cash as exchange rates and transfer rates will be lower.

Bank Withdrawal Limits

Most Mexican banks have fairly low daily withdrawal limits, ranging from 5,000 to 9,000 pesos, but if you need to take out more than that, you can go to the bank to do so.

You may also be able to call your bank and ask them to increase your daily limit, so you’re not constantly going back and forth to withdraw money.

ATM Fees

If you use an ATM in Mexico that belongs to the bank that issued your debit or credit card, you won’t have to pay any withdrawal fees. If you use another bank’s ATM, you may have to pay a small withdrawal fee, typically 1% of the amount you withdraw.

Lost or Stolen ATM Cards

Although losing an ATM card or having it stolen can be stressful, there’s an easy solution to the problem. Just call the bank, ask them to deactivate the card, and request a new one.

They may ask you to come in to show your ID and sign for a new card, but most Mexican banks will just send you a new one after confirming your identity.

What Happens if an ATM Eats Your Card?

Although it’s rare, an ATM may eat your card one day. This can happen for a number of reasons, like a simple technical issue, so don’t be scared.

If the ATM is attached to a bank, you can just go inside and ask them to remove your card from the machine. This happened to me in Playa del Carmen, and the workers were able to retrieve my card quickly.

If you use an independent ATM that isn’t attached to a bank, getting your card back may be more challenging, but not impossible.

Check the ATM for a customer service number and call it immediately while you’re still at the machine. Report the incident, giving the location of the ATM. If customer service can’t help you remotely, you may have to just get a new card.

Most banks will send your card to a different country if you’re traveling, so just call your home bank and explain the situation so they can send a new card out to Mexico.

Withdrawing Money without an ATM Card

If you lose your card or don’t have one, don’t worry. There are still ways to withdraw money, such as:

  • Bank transfers: If you open a local account, you can transfer money from your home bank to your Mexican bank.
  • Money transfer services: You can use international money transfer services, like Western Union or MoneyGram, to receive funds.
  • Cash advances: If you have a credit card, you may be able to receive a cash advance from a bank or financial institution. However, this is not recommended since fees can be high. Only use it when necessary.

Now, on to You

Moving to a new country is already stressful; you don’t want to make it worse by having financial troubles as well. By understanding which cards are accepted, where to find ATMs, and being aware of associated fees and limits, you can withdraw and handle your money more effectively.

The key takeaways are always choosing an ATM in a well-lit area, preferably one that belongs to a bank, and always checking the ATM’s fees before you complete a transaction. Otherwise, you may be losing more money than you thought.

rebecca low
After graduating from university and getting her TESL diploma in Canada, Rebecca decided to move across the world to teach English in Singapore. She has since become a freelance writer and editor, allowing her to travel to 31 countries and counting.
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