All you need to know about Iberian America

The Bias Against Foreign Debit or Credit Cards in Mexico

A few days ago, I woke up early and thought to myself "maybe today will be another day of walking."

I've been increasingly going outside to walk through entire neighborhoods to document as many of them as I can.

Mostly because I want to document as many corners of the city before I give Mexico City a break, return home for a tiny bit and travel again through the rest of Latin America.

A few nights ago, I ran the numbers through my head and assumed it'll take me somewhere between 6 to 9 months to cover the task.

Surely, there'll be a few streets I might miss here and there.

Perhaps some interesting church or two that I miss.

But I'll do my best to cover all that I can.

It's something I started months ago and have already done some damage.

In both cases, I've realized how much work it'll actually be.

Two days last week of 7 to 8 hours of walking each.

Almost got my phone robbed when I stumbled across one isolated street in "the barrio" where some gang members selling drugs supposedly got paranoid about me taking pictures as I wrote here.

But phone not stolen.

So far so good!

Still, aside from the physical work of walking that many hours a day and trying not to get my 30 dollar burner phone stolen, one other obstacle I have noticed is the issue of technology.

The more obvious example of that will be one to address in the weeks to months later when trying to visit neighborhoods far away that don't have a metro system to take me  to them.

....That'll be annoying.

But another technological obstacle that I didn't realize until a few days ago was when I woke up in the morning to find it difficult to buy a fucking ticket to a museum in the city.

A Visit to Frida Kahlo 

Initially, I was thinking of saving the most touristy of things to do in my specific area of Mexico City until the very end before I move to another specific corner of the city

I'll be moving around a bit to help me access certain areas easier.

Right now, I'm in the south of the city but I'll only be here for one to two more months.

Anyway, on a morning just a few days ago, I think to myself "fuck it, let's see that Frida Kahlo museum."

Well over 6 months ago, I know a niece of mine named Isabel had some school project focused on Frida Kahlo?

Or something like that.

So I decided to travel from the far north of the city to the far south only to get rejected from entering the museum because I didn't know I had to buy a ticket online (you were able to before but Covid restrictions have put an end to that for now and it is only online now to buy tickets).

I ended up walking away thinking to myself "fucking third world shit, traveled all this way for nothing. Mother fucking cocksuckers."

It was an hour and more away from my apartment then!

Well, I improvised and it wasn't all for nothing.

As I wrote here, I still did plenty of sightseeing.

But I postponed the Frida Kahlo Museum visit until later.

So, on a few days ago, I figured I'd finally cover this museum now.

Might be like 6 to 8 months late since Isabel's school project but whose counting?

And it is a goal of mine.

I'm not sure but I think my sister told me that she really likes Frida.

So part of my goals before I leave Mexico City is to finally get inside the museum and take pictures.

Honestly, I don't even care about Frida. Know nothing about her.  

At this point, I'm the guy in Bad Santa making sure the kid gets his pink elephant.

And, at this rate, it might as well be Christmas before I get inside given the dumb obstacles I've come across.

First being denied because they only sell tickets online (seriously, who the fuck doesn't take in person payments down here? First time I've encountered this in my years in Mexico).

Second is a more recent obstacle.

So a few days ago, when trying to buy this ticket, I get online and visit their website.

I was going to see it Tuesday at around 1 or 2 PM.

And thinking when to set the time so as to give myself enough time to then leave that museum and go to the Diego one (Frida's husband, I think) that is some distance away (buy the ticket to Frida's museum, they let you into Diego's one).

Anyway, with wallet in hand, I'm on the website of this museum that you can see here.

When it comes to making a payment, there were already a few issues.

For one, I was confused as to where to put my card info because it comes after you click a button that says "make payment" or whatever it said.

Second, the actual page where you put in your info looks like some early 2000s payment page.

Almost comical actually.

Despite Mexico City being one of Latin America's finest cities, they have this really old payment processing page that looks a tiny bit outdated.

Typical in Latin America for companies down here to have outdated pages.

The more developed a place is, the less of an occurrence it is but whatever.

Anyway, I put in the info from my US Bank card and it gets rejected.

"Cocksucker" I thought.

Then I put in my Paypal card info.

It was also rejected.

To which I find myself mocking the system and spitting out "third world fucking shit."

"Why the fuck can't you accept my info? TAKE MY CARD, I WANT TO GIVE YOU MONEY. HARD TO UNDERSTAND, IS IT?"

But it won't take it.

Neither of my cards.

Then I get on Google to see if there are other ways to pay for it.

Trip Advisor sells tickets for double the price of what it costs at the museum website: 30 bucks instead of 15 bucks.

Whatever.

I haven't bought the ticket yet but I will and probably cover the museum next week.

In the meantime, I was thinking to myself "why wouldn't it take my cards? Something wrong?"

But nothing wrong!

Since then, I've purchased some vodka using my debit card.

Withdrawn money.

They work just fine!

At any rate, I saw this relevant information in a group chat for foreigners in Mexico City.

Information I didn't know before. 

Anyway, I can't confirm or deny how true the information above is.

Is there really a bias against American cards because of extra fees or the greater likelihood of us being able to cancel a charge?

Sounds kinda funny because I remember years ago being charged by some company in Colombia that was hitting me with 5 bucks a month and I couldn't get my bank to stop the charge until I replaced the card with new numbers.

For whatever reason.

Still, based on what I've heard, I guess we have more consumer protection.

I've never had a Mexican bank account or card but it's what I've heard from others.

Anyway, take it for what it is.

Perhaps it is a benefit to having some card down here but I'd always be a little bit hesitant to have a local bank account because, as I wrote here, I've heard enough stories of local banks literally stealing money from their clients.

But to have a local account with a thousand or two for emergencies just in case?

That would be nice actually.

Anyway, I again can't deny or confirm how true it is that there is this bias against cards from the US down here but it's something to consider, I suppose.

At least in my case getting a ticket for the Frida museum, it might be true.

In looking it up online, apparently I'm not the first dude having issues processing a payment on their website.

That's all I got to say anyway.

Got anything to add?

Drop a comment below.

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Thanks for reading.

Best regards,

Matt

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