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Do foreign credit cards work on Rappi in Mexico?

Rappi is a Colombia-based restaurant/grocery/specialty goods delivery service that dominates the deliver app market in Central and South America. It’s also moving into Mexico. I’d heard about Rappi from other digital nomads, so when I was planning my time in Mexico, I figured I’d download Rappi when I arrived and that would free me up to book stays further from grocery stores than I might usually. But when I signed up for Rappi and tried to use it, I ran into some challenges. Can you use a foreign credit card on Rappi? After speaking to more than 10 different customer service reps at Rappi, in English and Spanish, through the app and on Twitter, the answer to that question is unclear. Rappi does not like my credit cards and I had to give up. Hopefully the details below give you a speedier time getting signed up to the app (if that’s something you’re into). 

Rappi verification charges don't appear

To make an order on Rappi, you need to verify your credit card. To do that, in theory, Rappi makes a small charge that shows up as a pending transaction, you look at what the amount is, type that amount into the app, and boom: arepas fall from the sky and dancing unicorns sing your favorite songs. At least, I assume that’s what will happen. 

The thing is, the first time I submitted a card for verification, nothing happened. No charge showed up on the card. Deleted the card, added it again, clicked for verification: Still nothing. Then I tried PayPal, first connecting a card, but then connecting my account balance and clicking for verification. Still no charge showed up but the app was just waiting for me to submit the amount. At this point, I noticed there was a link for “help with verification”. I clicked the button. It’s short on information and help. Rappi is valued at over $5 billion, has raised $2billion in investment, but that money is not going towards documentation. See screenshot. The help page philosophically expounds: “Can&” over an infinite void (of optimistic possibility). I hope I can…

So I tried a credit card I didn’t want to use with the app but it was the only credit card I had left. And… a charge did appear on this card! But this presented an entirely new problem: my card automatically converted the Rappi charge, presumably in MXN, into CAD. But then Rappi asked me to verify the charge in USD. The thing is, when I signed up, I had to select the country of my phone number, and had selected Canada. The app still had a little Canadian flag beside my phone number. I later got a Mexican phone number and tried Rappi using that number in case that was the issue but still had the same problem with the credit cards and bank accounts. I asked Rappi customer support multiple times if they always verify foreign credit cards in USD. I figured that would be useful for everybody to know. Many people have a USD credit card and you could just start with that. But no matter how many times I asked, customer support would always avoid answering that question except for once, when the rep on Twitter told me the verification charges would be in the local currency. 

Rappi Customer Support

I tried guessing the verification charge until the app told me I had too many incorrect guesses. 

When I reached out to Rappi Customer Support initially, I did it through the support section in the app, which was in English. So I sent a message in English. It wasn’t answered after several days, so I sent a message in Spanish. That got a response but just the canned instructions, several times, to do what I’d already done. Add a card, check the amount charged, and then input it into the app.

Lately, I find that customer support reps on Twitter seem to have more information than the usual support channels (This is especially true with airline customer service). That seemed to be the case here as well. The rep on Twitter got somebody to contact me through the app from a special payments team. They told me to delete the app, clear my cache, and then reinstall and try the process again. I assumed they were doing something on the backend that would mean my cards were verified when I reinstalled and signed up again. But it was just support theatre. The issue had nothing to do with my phone’s cache. Later they told me that I should delete all the cards and the app, wait 24 hours, download the app and add the card back in, hit the verification button, and then input the CAD amount, and it would work, even if the app asked for USD. This seemed strange because credit card exchange rates are constantly changing. The app would have no way to know what exchange rate my credit card was using. 

And when I did that, it didn’t work either. At this point, it really felt like they were just telling me to do random stuff. And we’re into week two.

Takeaways: Rappi Tips if You're in Oaxaca

  • DiDi works in Oaxaca for rideshare and food. DiDi is the only rideshare app that works in Oaxaca. Uber has left. Lyft is not there. I had no problem using my credit cards on DiDi for rideshare once I got a Mexican phone number. You’ll need one to sign up. BUT: when I had one credit card on DiDi, I was able to order food just fine. However, when I added a second, DiDi would no longer allow me to order food using credit cards. I could still book rides. When I asked DiDi support about credit cards, they just told me I had to use cash. That was actually better than all of the theatre Rappi support had me performing.
  • Uber has left Oaxaca but UberEats works great. And the takeout options in Oaxaca will just blow your tastebuds and your mind. A big benefit with using UberEats or DiDi was that I could find restaurants and food stalls I never would’ve found just by wandering around, and I could take the time to translate what was on the menu. I got to try so many foods I’d never heard of before. And the care shops take with their take-out orders in Oaxaca as on a whole other level from anywhere else I’ve been.
  • Just skip trying to figure it out with Rappi customer service. It’s a design flaw in the app. The verification depends on third parties Rappi doesn’t control. That involves so many unknowable variables. And the verification charge is tiny. So many foreign cards, with their bad exchange rates, probably count the charge as $0, and that’s why they don’t display it.
Rappi delivery bag on the back of a motorbike. It says Entregamos con amor!
"Entregamos con amor!" Rappi's slogan is: "We deliver with love!" But how much must we suffer for love?

In the end: Rappi verification cost me $1.30

After I shared screenshots of the charge to my credit card, inputting the CAD amount into the USD verification box, and the error message from that, Rappi Customer Support just ghosted me. 

The response to me explaining that it didn’t work, was a new Customer Service rep giving me the basic instructions again on how to add a credit card. Throughout, Rappi Customer Support didn’t seem to have a support ticketing system. After two weeks of sharing screenshots and details, the response was often the beginner copy-paste boilerplate response. And that’s where it ended.

I continued with the journey to see if it was possible so I could share that information with you. You do not need to have a daily conversation with Rappi Customer Support for two weeks just to learn all of this.

And save money. Because there was so many verification attempts to my credit card, and exchange rates fluctuate from when Rappi charges to when it reimburses the charge, this all ended up costing me $1.30. That could’ve been a churro.

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  1. Pingback: La Calera: An ideal digital nomad Airbnb in Oaxaca, Mexico • The Mindful Field Guide

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