La Quincena: How to Avoid Long Lines at the ATM in Mexico

La Quincena: How to Avoid Long Lines at the ATM in Mexico


If you have ever lived in Mexico for an extended period of time, then you have likely seen the ridiculously long lines at the ATM in Mexico. It will only happen some days, and then life will continue normally until a couple of weeks have passed when it seems that the lines have grown terrible again. 


The long lines at the ATM in Mexico is because of La Quincena, and it’s an important tidbit to know about if you are considering moving to Mexico.


How to Avoid Long Lines at the ATM in Mexico – What is La Quincena?


La Quincena—in case you had never heard the term before—is the 15th and the 30th of every month. This is when the majority of Mexicans get paid.

*In case you are wondering, in the month of February, companies pay out on the last day of February—be it the 28th or the 29th in the case of a Leap Year. 


*If the 15th or the 30th lands on a Sunday, you can expect La Quincena the following Monday because the banks do not pay out on Sundays.


Because so many people get paid on the same day, then there is a mad dash to the ATM to help people take out cash. Many Mexican families have run out of cash by the end of the first week of the month, and thus they are desperate for cash. As soon as their company pays out, and they have a moment, then long lines will begin to form to take out cash. 


So much cash is taken out on La Quincena that by the end of the day, it can be difficult to find an ATM with cash. So many people drain ATMs on the same day that whether you’re in a city or in a pueblo, you may not be able to find cash


If you live in a pueblo magico, it can be even worse, because you get an influx of tourists that stretch the cash-dispensing capabilities of the pueblo’s limited economic infrastructure. Especially in touristy pueblos, you might not be able to find cash for several days after because it takes some time to restock ATMs.


La Quincena – Much More Than Long Lines at the ATM in Mexico:


It’s not only the ATMs that experience long lines. After stocking up on cash, many Mexicans will then have to do things with that cash—and at the top of the list is to stock up on groceries.

As a recent article pointed out, oftentimes Mexican families have been limping, struggling to feed themselves, and even going hungry before they are paid on La Quincena. Therefore, you can expect impatient people waiting for their turn at the ATM on the 15th and the 30th of each month.


In fact, any business will show some improvement. Laundry will have longer lines as well, for example, because people can finally pay to have their week’s dry cleaning done. Sales figures indicate that retail also shows a sharp increase in spending at commercial outlets such as Wal-Mart and others.


La Quincena – The Weekend Quincena is a Perfect Storm:


There are dreaded instances when the 15th and the 30th happen to land on a Friday for example. These are the nightmare scenarios that retail workers fear and their bosses salivate over. At these times, you will notice a sharp increase in city traffic and recreational spending. The worst Quincena Friday is on El Grito, so be sure to be aware that the Mexican Independence Day party lands on the 15th

The weekend after a Quincena Friday—especially on that Friday—you can expect long lines everywhere. It can be difficult to get a table at restaurants, and movie theaters will be packed to the gills with people trying to escape the pressures of paycheck-to-paycheck life for a brief moment.


The worst-case scenario is if your Quincena Friday should happen to fall on a Puente. “Puente”, meaning “bridge” in Spanish, is the term for a 3-day weekend in Mexico. If you should happen to have a Mexican holiday land on Friday the 15th, then you can expect conditions similar to Black Friday in the United States.

People will be scrambling atop one another to get their funds before their exodus from wherever they are situated. Those from the city will flock to the beaches and pueblos to escape the daily grind of city life; and those from the pueblos will flock to the cities to enjoy the sights, sounds, and amenities that they have to offer. You can run out of cash—where few businesses have a credit card terminal—and expect disastrous conditions as people arrive in pueblos that have compiled insane lines at those few businesses that do take cards.


La Quincena – How Long Does La Quincena Last?

Quincenas do not only last on the 15th. You can expect La Quincena to realistically last a few days as people struggle to find their cash for the following two weeks. If your pueblo ran out of cash, then you can expect equally-long lines a few days later when they do stock up on cash again.

Therefore, you should be sure to stay ready in case of these nightmare scenarios. Try and keep some cash lying around for emergencies. Consider avoiding places on La Quincena and instead frequent these establishments on the off days and weekends that do not fall on the 15th and 30th of each month. In the end, La Quincena is just part of living in Mexico, and it is best to be prepared to avoid the long lines at the ATM in Mexico.

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