Sunday, October 7, 2012

Problems with the ATM machines

It has been three days now that I haven't been able to get money out of the local ATM machines. One problem after another with them. Yesterday at Bugambilla Plaza, I was going to use the machine and the glass in front was shattered. The machine was broken. I talked with an American man who was just as upset as I was and he said he had come from Jocotopec and every machine he tried wasn't working.  I wonder if there was a run on the bank ATMs by the robbers.

Sometimes people ask me how I get my money down here. I use the ATM machines. I know, I pay more because I pay at both ends, here and my own bank. But I never get around to opening up an account. I never think about it until I come to a situation like this one.

I have three ATM cards because once my bank in the states cancelled my card. I was stuck. They sold their bank and when the other one took over, well, all the cards were cancelled. They refused to talk with my mother when she called about it for me. At the time there was no such thing as skype. I spent an entire week end frantic, thinking someone had hacked into my account. The machine told me that there was no money in my account!  I had some traveler's checks but the local bank wouldn't cash them.

It is difficult to cash traveler's checks here. I had to take the bus to another town and still the bank wouldn't cash them because my Passport had my middle name on it and my traveler's checks only had my middle initial. I finally got one of those cambio places to cash it for me.  Also, the banks here no longer exchange American money to Pesos. Only the cambios and I don't know where one is now.

I am always afraid when I stick my ATM card into one of those machines that it will eat it up. That has been known to happen and it is very difficult to get another one. You have to have it sent from the States.

I am going to take a trip into Chapala tomorrow just so I can try the bank machine there.

When I first came here, I heard a sad story about a man who had been living in the motel where I was staying. He had problems with his ATM card. He was out of money. He had a new card sent down. (He was lucky enough to have mail service which costs over thirty dollars a month. Otherwise it isn't likely that you would get it at all.) That took ten days. It didn't work either. Another ten days with no money. He finally hanged himself in his room. Now I don't know how much his money problems contributed to his depression and killing himself but it sure wouldn't have helped his state of mind. I think about that man whenever I start worrying about ATM problems.

One more thing, sometimes thieves can somehow access ATM accounts. They have ways to copy your information and then they steal your money.  That happened last year at several banks and one bank refused to pay back the money to the people who were ripped off.

 I really should just open up an account at a local bank. I guess I don't want to admit that this is where I will be living for awhile. I like to keep all my options open. Maybe I will want to travel to Ecuador or Bali. I never do but I like to THINK that one day I will take off for parts unknown. In the meantime, I continue to raise my blood pressure every time I approach an ATM Machine.   I never said I was rational.


  1. How incredibly frustrating. I take things like ATM machines for granted. Never dreamed it could be that hard to get your money.

    1. Hi Sarah, Thanks for commenting. I talked to several friends today who got money recently out of different ATM machines. Guess I was just having a streak of bad luck. I will try again tomorrow. P

  2. Hi Pat,
    Just thought that I would share. When we were getting ready to come to Mexico, I tried to get travelers cheques and had a hard time finding banks in Texas that issued them. I had also heard that cashing them in Mexico would be difficult.
    I wanted to get something that would be just as good as far as secure against loss or theft, and safe to have without having large amounts of cash.
    American Express has "prepaid Cards" that have very low fees, on-line access, $5k max load, reloadable, and replaced if lost or stolen. Cash access by ATM or bank tellers.
    I have used these instead of the travelers cheques and they work fine. They are a great back up should you have problems with your ATM, and you can always get more cash by just doing some transfers with your bank accounts.
    Just a thought. Good to have.
    Good luck.

    1. Thank you Al for that very useful information. It is a great idea. Hope you guys are enjoying Roca Azul. P

  3. Hi Patricia,

    I changed my US bank account to Bank of America. Now I can get money from Santandar or Scotia Bank ATMs for free on both ends. It's a God-send and the exchange rates are perfect! There are ATMs for those banks locally. Scotia's machines do not keep your ATM card--you just swipe it through initially.


    1. Thank you Jim for that information. Lots of great advice coming in from this post. I appreciate that. P

  4. BOA is a great one also. I have been told by other people that they do not charge ANY fees for using the Mexico Santander ATMs, so that can save some money in fees. You just have to open up an account with them. Unfortunately, I owe them money and they would have access to my accounts. So BOA is not an option for me.

  5. HI AL, Sometimes you just can't win in the money game. I understand about BOA. I have had problems with them too. Keep in touch. Hope we meet one of these days, before you guys take off again. P

  6. I owe BOA $30 that I'll never, ever pay them for their screw up.