Afraid to Use an ATM in Mexico? Here’s Another Option

Source: Linda Kurtzweil

In the last two weeks, I’ve been inundated with emails and messages from readers reporting that their debit cards were skimmed while using ATM’s in Mexico. The majority of the incidents occurred along the coastal area from Cancun down to Tulum.

The only way to be 100% certain that your debit card information won’t be stolen is not to use the card at all. Another popular alternative is to wire the money to yourself via your cell phone and then pick it up at a designated bank or store location.

After researching several different transfer services, I think is the most user-friendly, secure and reliable service out there. Xoom is a service of PayPal, one of the world’s largest Internet payment systems.

How Does it Work?

Xoom can transfer money to you directly from your bank account or from a credit card. I recommend using the bank account because credit card companies often charge you a cash advance fee to use this service.

To arrange the transfer, you access your Xoom account online or via their mobile application. You select the amount and the location where you’ll be picking up the funds. When choosing a location, I recommend using a bank because the transfer limits are higher per transaction.

Once you’re notified that the funds are available, you pick up your money by showing the transfer number and your identification. It’s that simple.

If you already have a bank account in Mexico, this service is an inexpensive way to transfer money from your bank account back home.

The fee per transfer is $4.99 USD.

Exchange Rates

The exchange rate given is updated periodically during the day and you can wait until the perfect moment to arrange your transfer. Once you click on it, you’re locked in at that rate.

You can check out the current rate offered by clicking HERE.

Let’s Wrap This Up

Even if you plan on relying solely on ATM’s while in Mexico, you might want to consider setting up a Xoom account as an emergency backup. If your card is skimmed and deactivated, you’ll still be able to get money without having to panhandle.

A note about the main photo: 

Some of you might be wondering why I used a picture of the beach for this article. Well, there are two reasons: 1) this was my view while I was working on it yesterday, and 2) I thought it would look nicer than a picture of an ATM machine.

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About the Author

Q-Roo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years and retired at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He moved to Mexico with his wife six days later to enjoy a laid-back, Caribbean lifestyle on a tight budget. In 2016, Paul started a blog to share information with other people who may be thinking of making the move to Mexico. The blog, Two Expats Mexico (, has been viewed over a million times.

19 Comments on "Afraid to Use an ATM in Mexico? Here’s Another Option"

  1. Thank you for the timely info. I was wondering if you could do a blog on how you file your federal and/or state taxes from Mexico. Thanks!

  2. Good advice….LOVE THE VIEW!!

  3. Thanks for this–a great tip!

  4. The skim had to us as well after we had returned from Mexico. Can a Canadian resident open a Mexican bank account?

  5. Before moving to Mexico, my husband set up an account with Citibank. When we moved here, we opened a checking account with Banamex. Because Citibank and Banamex are one entity, we can transfer money from our old home bank to Citibank and then from Citibank to Banamex. Once the money is in our account, we write a check for what ever amount we need; there are no fees and no limit for the cash we can get. . It takes a few days for the transfers to go through but it’s worth it, especially living here full time.

  6. We live mainly in Mexico, but we still have 2 houses in the U.S. (one we rent out and one was supposed to be our retirement home). It makes finances more interesting and it took a while to get everything set up and running smoothly. We use ATMs for our Mexican accounts to get cash, but our work around for getting money from the states is to have one of our Social Security checks deposited by the government into a Mexican account. So we have funds accessible online in both countries. It works for us.

  7. Edith Henneberg | February 1, 2017 at 11:09 am |

    Canadians can’t use Xoom

  8. I have been very lucky with ATM use over the last 8 years…no issues at all. I will however, only use an ATM at a physical bank, never one on the street. I will look into this wire option though, thanks for the tip.

  9. Is this only really happening to Americans because they still rely on the magnetic stripe on their ATM cards? With a Canadian ATM card I primarily use the chip (with the mag stripe as backup) and I’ve never had an issue. Or am I just lucky?

  10. Pabo Parigini | February 1, 2017 at 11:56 am |

    The same ATM scams happen here in Puerto Vallarta. We have recently been using Xoom. It is fantastic! We have the money sent to Soriana grocery store as their US $ limit is higher than the bank. There is also an option to pay bills through Xoom which we’ll be trying later this month. It has saved us a lot in transaction fees.

  11. Having used Paypal for years, I had no idea they had this service. What a great thing to know. Thanks.

  12. Xoom is a nice money transfer/remittance service and can be done via their website or through the convenience of your smartphone with their Android app. What I like is that the transfer is in the bank in minutes during weekday business times, but a bit longer on weekends and holidays.

    Paypal purchased Xoom in 2016, I believe and before that, they were an independent franchise. Their exchange rate is never as high as what it should be – as according to the official exchange rate – but, they’re in the business to make money and money they do make. But really, their charges are not that different from other similar services like: Transferwise, Western Union, Remitly, Ria, etc.

  13. Donna Norstadt | February 1, 2017 at 9:15 pm |

    Ok I just tried this Xoom transfer. It’s in the process. I tried to put my Mexican bank in as one of my accounts but it wasn’t working so I called Xoom. I needed to put myself in as a recipient and was then able to put my Mexican bank information. So essentially I am paying myself. If this works for me, it will be a much cheaper way to transfer funds than a wire transfer from my US bank.

  14. Does anybody know the Xoom limit on transfers to Mexican banks?

  15. Was so excited about Zoom. Have been using PayPal for years. So disappointed to find out it works only from US banks. Can’t use to transfer from our Canadian bank to our Mexican bank. Maybe some day.

  16. Canadians, at least one Mexican bank, Intercam, will take a Canadian cheque deposit. Good exchange rate. Funds are available in the account almost immediately i.e. under 1 hour. You need to have an account set up with them first though.

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