A guide to international debit card payments

Using your debit card outside the U.S. can be confusing, especially since the rules often differ country to country. When traveling to Mexico from the U.S., it's important to plan ahead if you want to use your Chase debit card. There are a few things to consider, but if you take the right steps, you'll have no problems on your journey south of the border.

Q: Will my Chase debit card work in Mexico?

A: Yes, debit cards can be used outside the U.S. You'll be able to withdraw money from an ATM or pay for goods and services using the card while traveling. It is essential, however, that you contact your bank ahead of time and put a travel alert on the card. This can be done over the phone or online and ensures that Chase won't put a fraud hold on your card when they see it being used in Mexico. You'll be able to give the bank your exact travel dates and destinations up to 14 days before leaving, so there will be no concerns over whether the card will work once you're out of the country.

Q: Will I have to pay fees to use my Chase debit card in Mexico?

A: Yes. If you plan to withdraw money from a non-Chase ATM while in Mexico, you will be subject to a fee. Chase charges customers a $5 fee on all non-Chase ATM transactions, which can really add up. There will also be a foreign transaction fee, which is usually 3 percent of the amount you withdraw from the ATM. Chase does not have any official ATMs in Mexico, so in order to avoid these fees, you should either withdraw money ahead of time while still in the U.S. or look into a credit or debit card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees, like Chase's Explorer MileagePlus Visa card or their Preferred Sapphire card.

When using the debit card to pay at restaurants or shops, there is no incurred fee. There will, however, be the three percent foreign transaction fee, and you are subject to the current exchange rate. In these situations, again, it's best to look into a card with no foreign transaction fee.

Q: What happens if my debit card is lost or stolen while I'm in Mexico?

A: If you misplace your debit card while on vacation, be sure to contact Chase immediately. Call 800-935-9935 to report a lost card. It's best to know your debit card number and pin when calling. It's unlikely Chase will be able to send you a replacement card while traveling, but it's important to always report lost debit cards as soon as possible to prevent fraudulent charges.