When your card is declined… in Mexico

It’s one of your worst fears… you’re out to eat with a table of folks (in this case, folks I just met a few hours avo when we left the ship for this paddleboard and snorkeling excursion), and your card declines.

You nervously smile, furl your eyebrows, laugh and say “whaaaat? Run it again…” only to sideeye the Mexican tableside card machine as it tries and tries and once again glows declined. What in thee everloving pesos is going on here??

Now I promise you there was money in that account when I left the ship. I promise. I checked. But somewhere between the gangway and the oceanside palapa where I shared nachos, daiquiris, and quesadillas with my new paddle buddies… my card was tapped dry.

No worries, fam. I’ll just go to the ATM for cash pessos (even though yeeeeesss I had some on me but I still obviously now needed more to cover food, tips for my waiters and guides, and the photos I totally planned to purchase of me failing miserably at paddle boarding).

“Ooohh senorita. Los siento. We no have no ATM.”

Really, Pablo?! What kind of seaside establishment is this?! Read: ok for real yall, what I’m bout to do cause this is getting hairy…

“Ahh, but bonita… this is what we can do. There is an ATM outside, across the street. I can walk with you there. And then you can pay.”

Cue every bad horror flick where the black person dies first. Yes, I was the only brown skin in this lovely island jewel and by this time, my companions have told me they are going to change and they’ll meet me at the front. I know it sounds bad… but at the time it made sense. We were in the same group and had just finished paddleboarding and snorkeling. We were all taking the same taxi back to the port, so they weren’t leaving leaving. But, yea… they left me. Alone. With the waiters. Man I’m so happy I had been nice and friendly with the waiters. Always, always be nice to your waitstaff, fam – I seriously can’t stress that enough.

Ok so we walk off the property and across the street, waving and laughing to all the other waiters and drivers along the way – needed to make sure I was seen and all. I also needed to hide my nervousness that 1) even though I felt 99.9% safe, there was still that .1% and 2) my card, which had money before I left, didn’t work at the restaurant so would it work at the ATM??


The answer is no, y’all. Awwkkwwaarrdd.

The entitled American who just ate all your food and drank all your margaritas can’t pay the 346 pesos (literally like $20 fam). So embarrassing. And what’s more, I’m now really trying to figure out where is all of my money?

So by this time, it’s getting a little ridiculously late. Mario, my awesome guide from the water activities (and who called our taxi a while ago so is probably crazy anxious to get me and the others back to the port) has come to assist. And just about every Carlos in the joint is over at my table trying to help me figure this thing out. $5 to get the wifi code that never worked later, we finally decided that Paypal could be a valid solution. And just as I reminded them “guys, I’d need that wifi to PayPal it over…” Leah, one of my paddle mates, comes running and says “girl how much you need? 20?? I got 20.” Done.

And just like that, I’m ushered to the front to meet the 6 people anxiously waiting in the mildly air-conditioned van.

“Senorita, wait! Don’t you want to get your pictures??”

Crap. I really, really do. It was my first time attempting to paddleboard and I really hammed it up for the culture. But alas, I had a van full of ready-to-go people and a card that mysteriously didnt work.

Zipped in my life vest, ready to attempt paddleboarding
Zipped in my life vest, ready to attempt paddleboarding

He told me no problem – I could find their group on Facebook and with that, we were on our way back to the ship… a little quieter leaving than when we were coming.

Whatever. It happens to the best of us. And the crazy thing is… my card worked fine back on the ship. Guess it just didn’t like pessos.

Thanks again, Leah!

Has this ever happened to you? I refuse to believe I’m the only one. Do tell!



2 thoughts on “When your card is declined… in Mexico

  1. This is such a stressful situation and still I couldn’t stop giggling because I knew you would find a way out in the end. I can imagine the awkwardness you felt! I always exchange some money to take with me because I’m afraid something like this could happen, now I see it does happen! You managed it like a lady! 👏🏼

    Liked by 1 person

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