Debit cards in South America

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Debit cards in South America

Postby tomfoster29 » Tue May 06, 2008 5:26 am

Hi,

I'm going on the Southern Cross trip (SXRM) in the summer which goes through Brazil, Bolivia and Peru. I was just curious as to how easy it is to use debit cards in those countries? I intend on using a Visa Debit card and a Maestro card (not sure if Maestro is familiar outside UK??).

Can anyone help clarify the situation with debit cards, am I going to be ok with these??

Cheers,
Tom
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Re: Debit cards in South America

Postby dianeinny » Tue May 06, 2008 3:18 pm

Are you planning on using the debit card instead of a credit card? Or are you using it as an ATM card? My Visa debit card IS my ATM card and that's the only way I use it.

If you are using it as a credit card and you do not have to enter a pin, I'm sure you'll have no problem. I'm not familiar with using a debit card, as a credit card, where you have to enter a pin.

Hope someone else can help you out here
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Re: Debit cards in South America

Postby tomfoster29 » Tue May 06, 2008 4:48 pm

I intend to use my debit card(s) as ATM cards. I am taking a credit card too but I don't particularly like using it :)
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Re: Debit cards in South America

Postby ballu » Tue May 06, 2008 4:57 pm

I only went to Peru...used my credit card for cash advances in ATMs on the visa network and had no problems. Could withdraw both USD and Peruvian Soles there. I've heard people having problems with PINs that aren't 4 digits. If you have the credit card as a back up to the debit card, I would think you'd be fine.

There may be place you'll hit for a few days that won't have ATMs but your guide should give you a heads up so you can prepare.
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Re: Debit cards in South America

Postby tomfoster29 » Tue May 06, 2008 5:08 pm

My credit card is a MasterCard and not Visa, does that pose any problems??
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Re: Debit cards in South America

Postby JaliscoJudy » Tue May 06, 2008 5:18 pm

Here's a link to an ATM locator for South America.

http://www.mastercard.com/sam/en/SAM_English.html

Looks like plenty! In Ecuador, we found more ATMs for my VISA but we always managed to find one for my husband's MasterCard too.

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Re: Debit cards in South America

Postby Zuleika » Tue May 06, 2008 5:51 pm

Hi there - Im also from the UK. I have a maestro/cirrus debit card and have used it all over the world including South and Central America. I much prefer to use it as you dont get charged astronomically for cash advance like you do visa/master card. The UK differs in this way from the US and Canada.
However - Not all ATM's will take them, you have to search for the ATM's with the maestro/cirrus sign. I remember Rio being particularly difficult a few years ago.
I always take back up - a visa and a mastercard to cover all eventualities. And of course a cash emergency fund in dollars.

Also - be warned - it seems to be the rage in UK banks at the moment to stop your card for what seems like no reason at all, so phone all your banks to let them know where you are going and the dates - this is still no guarantee - mine was stopped the day i went on my trip because I happened to take out £100 from my local cash point!!!!???? Dodgy withdrawal they said - hogwash I said! Take the bank phone numbers with you! Bloody annoying!
Last edited by Zuleika on Tue May 06, 2008 5:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Debit cards in South America

Postby tomfoster29 » Tue May 06, 2008 5:55 pm

Thanks for everyones help!!
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Re: Debit cards in South America

Postby roofie » Thu May 08, 2008 11:00 am

Zuleika is pretty much spot on.

In Brazil in general you'll have to search for ATM's marked as "international". You'll be able to find them in every city you visit though. Most of them accept cirrus-cards. In Bolivia and Peru you shouldn't have a problem.

Most of the Britts on my last trip had to call their banks several times because they kept blocking their cards.
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Re: Debit cards in South America

Postby golightly_wannabe » Fri May 09, 2008 4:02 pm

I got back from JRB (Iguassu - Rio to BA) two weeks ago. My friend and I both set up Nationwide accounts especially for the trip - if you're in the UK, GET ONE as you can use it abroad without getting charged fees and with a fairly decent exchange rate. In any event, I didn't need to ring them at all, but I still would before you leave just in case.

The main issue we had was finding ATMs on occasion, to be honest. Visa Debit is more widely accepted than Maestro/Cirrus, although we still had the occasional issue with our cards being accepted in ATMs. As a general rule, look for HSBC above all else. There's a couple of places where you won't find them - Paraty was a bit 'awkward' - but they tend to be pretty well dotted around the place :)
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Re: Debit cards in South America

Postby kirant » Mon Jun 17, 2013 6:48 am

Went to brazil last year and the same problem. Take hsbc card in order to take money out at atms. Was a lesson learnt!
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