PV area ATMs
Replies: 14 - Last Post: Nov 24, 2012 9:44 AM Last Post By: bandelier
Nov 15, 2012 5:37 PM
PV area ATMsI have seen reports that ATMs are not safe to use in the Puerto Vallarta are, especially in places like Sayulita. Anyone have good, recent info on this? I am trying to decide if I should carry enough dollars for one month and just change money at banks, but I am not comfortable with that idea. Please advise.
Nov 15, 2012 6:34 PM
1I would not carry that much cash with me but rather use an ATM. Use an ATM inside if possible, keep an eye on anyone around you....or watching you from across the street, never accept help from a stranger on using the machine.
There is risk in everything, the risk of using an ATM is less than hauling around a bunch of cash. Also make sure the bank of the ATM card knows where you are going and the dates of your travel....otherwise your card will probably be cancelled.
Nov 15, 2012 6:58 PM
Nov 15, 2012 7:23 PM
3I had my ATM card cloned twice after a trip to Puerto Vallarta. I think US tourists are especially vulnerable, because their cards do not have the chip. About a month or two after a trip you get a huge money withdrawal from the account; one was a shopping spree around Mexico City, second was a series of ATM withdrawals in Colombia. The bank always refunds the money after I report it, so at the end it is no big deal, but still a hassle. I suspect the ATMs on Olas Altas, but it is just a hunch. I have a special travel ATM now where I only put what I need to withdraw, and try to use ATMs in busy Oxxo stores in areas where there are not many foreigners, so far no problems.
There are frequent reports in Mexican media about arrests of people carrying blank bank cards. I suspect this type of crime is rampant and not only in Mexico. Still, ATM is the most practical and convenient way to get cash abroad; I would not recommend any other method.
Nov 15, 2012 8:23 PM
4I have a standing order with my financial institution that I will be in Mexico from November until April and regardless where I have used it I have not had any problems in 10 years.
As anywhere else due caution is to be exercised in the use of a debit card.
Never ever use a no name machine, always use a machine inside of a bank branch!!!!
Nov 16, 2012 4:08 AM
5I don't know about troubles with ATMs specific to Puerto Vallarta, but the identity theft Yose describes in #3 can happen (and can happen anywhere - it's happening to my niece in New Jersey right now). Despite this, like Yose, I don't reccomend any other practical means of dealing with money in Mexico other than using ATMs. Carrying large amonts of cash is a bad idea and traveller's cheques are a hassle to exchange (only banks will take them and even then reluctantly). Having a pre-paid card like Yose describes is a good idea as it limits damages if someone does steal access to it. I haven't done that yet, but will in the future as we start taking much longer, extended trips.
But in general:
I don't bring much cash into Mexico. I fact, I only bring whatever pesos I have left over from my last trip and then use ATMs after that. I only use ATMs in banks, not those in convenience stores or restaurants. ATMs in convenience stores and such have more access to them by non-bank persons and therefore more susceptible to identity theft and they can have additional, sometimes excessive, fees to use them. Perhaps that is the source of Yose's identity theft experiences since he says he uses his card in OXXO stores.
Also be aware that many rural aras in Mexico operate on a cash economy. Some smaller areas don't have ATMs, don't accept credit cards, and don't have banks nearby. So, there ARE times that you need to carry cash, but only in more remote areas that are off the usual tourist trail.
The last point is notifying your bank of the dates of your trip before leaving. This cuts down on charges in foreign lands after you've returned home and keeps your bank from freezing your account while you are travelling when they suddenly see foreign charges showing up in your account (I found this one out the hard way).
Nov 16, 2012 7:04 AM
6As Bob says, it can happen anywhere, not just Puerto Vallarta, try Vegas :)
I've been using my ATM cards here for about 12 years, only had one 'eaten' by the machine and got it back the following day (luckily it was a machine in a bank), these days it's hard to fine a machine that takes your card for the transaction, most are now push in and remove or swipe. Be sure to tell your bank you will be using it in Mexico or they may 'flag' it and you'll have the transaction refused.
Nov 16, 2012 10:56 AM
Nov 16, 2012 12:33 PM
Nov 16, 2012 12:58 PM
9I was in Puerto Vallarta, Months ago and I I used my credit card and I also got money from ATM'S where ever I was even at night and I didn't have any problems. Puerto Vallarta seemed really safe to me. Have a good trip!
Nov 16, 2012 1:52 PM
10You are in a foreign country and all you have is one little piece of plastic? CYA people! Take some cash (not lots but some); take your ATM card and also your credit card with PIN #. If any thing happens to the ATM card you have a back-up with the credit card to get cash. The fees hurt but it can save you. I learned this the hard way and was so glad I had it.
When I go with my husband we each have our cards. When I go sola I have taken 2 ATM cards "just in case".
And yes, use the ATMs attached to banks ONLY and always notify your issuing bank(s) about the dates you are going and coming back.
Nov 16, 2012 4:46 PM
11I've never had a problem. Keep in mind Sayulita's still pretty small so you should def keep cash on you. Banks are especially leary about exchanging $100 american bills & wouldnt accept any that were damaged when I was there. BTW while you're in Sayulita, I highly recommend renting an ATV & checkin out all the small towns & trails. Don't go on a tour, they're lame, rent one you can take by yourself. So much fun!
Nov 17, 2012 7:19 PM
Nov 19, 2012 1:09 PM
13I have used a debit card in and around PV for about 10 years and have never had a problem.
Re: bringing a wad of USD and exchanging dollars at area banks, I'd forget about that plan. I was recently at the Bancomer branch in Bucerias, just outside of PV, and I learned that they no longer exchange USD for pesos AT ALL. Your only way to get rid of them would be to pay for groceries at major supermarkets or to take a big loss when paying street merchants; they will take the dollars, but they will usually only give you an exchange rate of about 10 to 1, rather than giving you the current rate.
Nov 24, 2012 9:44 AM
14Beware in Sayulita for sure - My wife and I had our ATM cards "skimmed" a few years ago, and last year I actually found a skimming device on an ATM just near the river on Revolucion. Rule of thumb is if the ATM is located in a bank, or inside of a place like the Mega, you're OK. Otherwise, be very careful and check (jiggle) the card entry portion of the machine prior to using.
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