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Costs, Money And Banks in Mexico: Credit and cash cards

Major credit cards are widely accepted and handy for emergencies. Visa and MasterCard are the best; American Express and other charge cards are usually only accepted by expensive places, but an Amex card is worth it for the other services it offers, such as mail pick-up points and dollar travellers' cheque purchase. Credit cards are not accepted in the cheapest hotels or restaurants, nor for most bus tickets, but you can use them to get cash advances from banks. Usually there's a minimum withdrawal of around US$75-100.

In addition, you can get cash 24 hours a day from ATMs in most sizeable towns in Mexico, using credit cards or ATM cash cards from home. Banamex and Bancomer machines accept Visa and MasterCard plus debit cards from the Cirrus and PLUS systems, which allow account holders to withdraw money directly from their current/checking accounts back home. In some border towns you can find cash machines pay out in US dollars.

Make sure before you leave home that you have a personal identification number ( PIN ) designed to work overseas. Remember, too, that all cash advances on credit cards are treated as loans, with interest accruing daily from the date of withdrawal; there may be a transaction fee on top of this. Finally, be aware that technical hitches are not uncommon - though rare, it has been known for machines not to dispense cash but to debit your account anyway.

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