Beware of This Common Travel Scam in Spain’s Palma de Mallorca

Jun 5, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Police in Palma, the capital city of the Spanish island of Mallorca, recently arrested 26 trileros, or people involved with a common travel scam called trile, the cup game.

The game involves three cups and a small object that is hidden beneath one of the cups. Players are asked to guess which cup contains the object beneath, paying a small sum of money to play (and bet) with the hope of winning big.

The local Mallorcan police have warned tourists not to play the game because they will “definitely lose,” as the scammers often secretly remove the object hidden beneath the cups. The police have even tweeted a video about how the scam is staged, advising both tourists and locals to stay far away.

Despite the arrests, the game lives on (as it has for years) and players continue to be scammed out of their euros. The game is common in Palma de Mallorca, but also along the beaches of major tourist destinations such as Benidorm and Valencia, as well as squares in Barcelona and Madrid.

The good news is, you can easily avoid this scam by simply not playing the game and not handing over any money to the scammers. If someone approaches you to play, no matter how persuasive, just ignore them and keep moving. They’re not known for being violent with tourists, but lately, the street gangs (known as trileros) have been multiplying, and fights have broken out between the gangs and those playing.

A local Spanish resident, Jorge Ortega, told The Points Guy he’s seen the game played since he was a child. He’s always known it was a scam and suggests steering clear of the game and those involved entirely.

“Just walk away if they ask you to play, or [ask] if you want to win big,” he advised, “and don’t get sucked in by the prospect of winning easy money . . . because you’ll just end up losing it.”

The cup game isn’t the only scam to watch out for in Spain. There’s also the rental car scam that’s especially prevalent along the Costa Brava, and Barcelona is known for harboring petty thieves and pickpockets.  But don’t let the possibility of being scammed scare you into not visiting Palma, the Costa Brava or Spain in general. The country is actually a very safe place — just be mindful of your personal belongings and keep your wits about you, just as you would when traveling anywhere else in the world.

Featured photo of the restaurants in Palma de Mallorca by Westend61 / Getty Images.

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Visa® credit card

This card from Bank of America gets really interesting if you have a BofA checking, savings or investment account. Depending on the value of your combined accounts you can potentially get as much as 3.5x points on travel/dining and 2.625x points on other purchases making it the richest consumer banking bonus out there.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Receive 50,000 bonus points – a $500 value – after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase
  • No limit to the points you can earn and your points don't expire
  • Redeem for cash back as a statement credit, deposit into eligible Bank of America® accounts, credit to eligible Merrill accounts, or gift cards or purchases at the Bank of America Travel Center
  • Get up to $200 in combined airline incidental and airport expedited screening statement credits + valuable travel insurance protections
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Low $95 annual fee
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.74% - 24.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.