I'm travelling in South America (In Argentina currently), and no ATM will accept my card.

The card is a VISA and has a magnetic strip (and pin number), but no chip. It works at supermarkets and anywhere that it can be swiped.

How can I obtain cash? (Either USD or local currency)

If I get to a large city can I get money from a bank teller (at the counter, not ATM)?

  • 5
    I'm not sure about South America specifically, but any reasonable bank should be able to process a withdrawal or cash advance for any Visa card, at the counter. I would try that. There could be higher fees (from that bank or yours). Jan 20, 2016 at 22:26
  • 4
    Is your Visa card linked to a credit account? If so, then there will probably be considerable penalties for withdrawing cash directly from that. Or is it linked to a bank account where you have cash available? There is a substantial difference between these two scenarios. Jan 20, 2016 at 22:31
  • 2
    no cash back service at supermarkets? if not then try the hotel, they can do it for a small fee or no fee at all. Jan 20, 2016 at 23:07
  • Some cards (like gift cards) do not allow cash withdrawals, or only allow them if you actually enable them. Also, some banks will refuse withdrawals from abroad if you didn't notify them of your trip. What type of card is it (credit, debit, prepaid, gift card...), and what bank in what country is it from?
    – jcaron
    Jan 20, 2016 at 23:10
  • Thanks for the assistance everyone. A couple of clarifications: its a debit card, visa, but not on the plus network (learned today), linked directly to my bank account with sufficient funds available. Will investigate a cash back service and a hotel exchange. Also looking at Western Union. Jan 21, 2016 at 0:44

2 Answers 2


A few tidbits about Visa Debit cards (from the USA I am guessing).

While they work in all USA ATMs, as you discovered they are not always tied to the Plus ATM network so you need to make sure the ATM machine displays the Visa logo.

If you have a choice, when outside the USA the card should be treated as a "credit card" not a "debit card" when used for POS (points of sale) transactions (food, stores, gas, etc). The USA systems for pin based debit transactions aren't link to many countries outside.

Many banks now limit the cash advance amount to the same as your ATM withdrawal limit. They used to allow you to withdraw up to your daily limit for purchases, but now most treat the advance the same as ATM transactions.

If the ATM asks what account, what we call a "checking" account, many countries call a "current" account.

Always let your bank known you will be traveling and where.


I also had the issue that my credit card was blocked. In this case i can recommend services like Moneygram or western union. Often the fees in South America are not that high.

  • 1
    Can you expand your answer? At this time it is very short. Maybe you can add the amount of the fees?
    – Willeke
    Nov 25, 2017 at 8:54

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .