Anyone travelling in South America right now? Debit cards stopped working

All of my debit mastercards have stopped working in local shops, restaurants, petrol stations - everywhere here in Uruguay since last Friday.

Monzo, Curve and Starling the last 5 days.
The only one that is working is my Aqua credit card.

The cards work fine on UK sites and transferring between accounts, adding money from Monzo to Revolut for example.

I’m thinking it’s an issue with the international payment system. I pray it’s just a temporary glitch.

Just asking if anyone is around in South America travelling and having similar issues.

error code useless = 12

I’ve written to Curve to investigate - will do the same with Monzo.



I just had a look at the local press but can’t find anything relating to any Mastercard or debit card outage.
Have you tried paying with Google/Apple/Samsung Pay as well (if/where they have contactless)?


Thanks, I’ve looked also. Nothing.
Unfortunately they don’t have Google or apple pay here.

I’ll try my prepaid revolut visa tomorrow.
At least the aqua works.

I did notice the debit cards always show up on their screen as credit and they ask me twice is it debit? But it reads them as credit. Seen that before with others travelling.

If it doesn’t fix itself soon I’ll need to try and contact mastercard directly somehow.

My wife just used her revolut and that worked fine. In a coffee shop and at the atm.
These are visa revolut cards not mastercard, plus prepaid not full banks.

I have a weswap mastercard which is also prepaid bin type. Will test that

Kind of a naive question, as the last time I traveled those parts was before mobile pay was a thing (although this question applies globally anyway), but does the retailer need to specifically support mobile pay? I thought it just shows as just another card to them, so if they accept any contactless MC, they will accept it from your phone as well as from a piece of plastic… right?

When contactless launched here some worked with Apple Pay, others with google pay, all to do with updates and I guess cost?

As for OP, maybe Mastercard debit isn’t accepted there but credit is?

Visa should be fine by the sounds of it.

Aqua is a Visa card right?

There’s your problem probably Mastercard isn’t accepted there anymore? :woman_shrugging:t2:

Aqua is a mastercard but credit not debit.

We’ve been here for a while and all of our debit mastercards were working perfectly until last Friday

Do they work as credit ?

I have had in the past issues when abroad Monzo only worked as a “credit card”. I think it was more to do with the fact that it is foreign / non domestic debit card. When they rang it up as a credit card it worked. Maybe credit is more like credit/foreign card.


I’ll have a go - thanks for the suggestion - making sure they put it in as a credit card.
I looked at the receipt of the Revolut last night and it said ‘VISA Credit’. So obviously an issue with Mastercard.

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More likely their machine setup than Mastercard

that would be rare - in about about 6-7 different establishments now in different towns all failed which were working last week.

Looked at a receipt from a transaction that worked the other day and it says ‘master credit’ for my monzo and starling so looks like they went through as credit anyway. They ask me if I want to pay in installments also which only works with credit cards here.

Sent a support ticket to weswap also as I tried this today and same result
Invalid transaction 12

Revolut visa worked fine.

My wife tried calling mastercard but had no luck. Problem with my UK bank they said BUT its not, as the transaction isn’t even arriving.
I’m suspecting its mastercard usa which appear to be the hub for transactions.

I think there may have been a glitch for sure.

My wife was using her debit mastercard before the issues and my balance looked very healthy - didn’t check it properly.

Then suddenly this Saturday got a warning in my app I have a negative balance of £236!!! Thought I had been hacked.
Looked at the statement and all of the transactions made some time ago appeared to have accumulated and came through all at once from a week ago.
These cards Monzo and Starling always debit your balance in real-time so something was up with MasterCard for sure.

I’ll try it again this week - may be up and running now.
Fingers crossed

All working now luckily. International debit mastercard platform must have been down in this neck of the woods.

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This is because there are “debit networks” (usually local-only networks which only work with domestic cards issued in the country, like Elo in Brazil) and “credit networks” (Visa and Mastercard, which are known for processing credit cards and are therefore called credit networks even when used with a debit card).

If asked, when abroad, you should always select (or tell them to press) the credit option - yes, even if it’s a debit card! Surprisingly, unlike being on the lookout to avoid DCC, this tip isn’t widely known.

Debit probably won’t work for a UK-issued card and this is possibly what’s causing your declines. Maybe not, as a decent POS system should fallback to “credit networks” anyway if debit doesn’t work, but it’s most likely the cause of the issue. Especially if everyone else’s cards seem to magically work like normal and your credit card (which you’ve probably been telling people is a credit card, so they’ve been pressing the credit option to run over the Mastercard network) is also working.

No, it doesn’t!

That’s true; however, unless the reader is set up correctly, it may be limited to the standard local contactless limit even if you pay with a phone (when the limits shouldn’t normally apply because of CDCVM being used to authenticate you through your device). This is now never really a problem in the UK, as our standard contactless limit is so high anyway, but has the potential to be a much bigger issue abroad where contactless limits are often much lower.

It’s probably this limitation that @Carlo1460 was thinking of, which caused his reply to make it sound like all terminals have to be specially configured to accept phones at all. That’s not the case, at least up to the local contactless limit. Apple Pay or Google Pay stickers can be treated as synonymous - they both use the same technology and the stickers are just retailers effectively advertising that they’ve got contactless, meaning you can use either device to pay.

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