Great 'Countries you can't use your plastic in' Hunt

Former_MSE_Penelope Posts: 536 Forumite
edited 16 March 2011 at 9:58AM in Flights, currency & car hire
Great 'Countries you can't use your plastic in' Hunt

Using plastic is the cheapest way to spend overseas. Yet we've heard some reports of countries with no ATMs, our plastic doesn't work in their machines, or it's a Visa or Mastercard issue.

What countries have you had problems paying on plastic in?

Please include as much of the following info as is appropriate.

  • When this happened
  • What the country was
  • Was it a one off or something that happened everywhere
  • Was it card specific or to all UK cards
  • Any tips to improve things.

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  • When I was in Japan last year, only the ATM's in 7-Eleven's or the Post Office (tricky to find) took UK cards. All others (in malls etc) wouldn't take them. Visa, Mastercard, nothing. You had to go to one of these two places.
  • Just to let you know Djibouti does not accept MasteCard for payment. (not a popular tourist destination I admit but it caught me out)

    Whilst not a country - you can only buy Olympic Tickets using your Visa card (amex and MasterCard not accepted)
  • HSBC in Manila was the only place I could use my card successfully in an ATM when I lived out there. Most other towns only have PNB (Philippine National bank) ATMs which don't seem to work with UK or French (my OH is French) -issued cards. Be prepared for this if you head out of the capital.
    The best way to forget all your troubles is to wear tight shoes.
  • Nor sure if many people will be heading there, but the only country I have been to where you cannot use any foreign bank cards anywhere in the country is Burma.

    You must take US Dollars cash and exchange them for the local currency when you get there.
  • mvk0016
    mvk0016 Posts: 41
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    edited 16 March 2011 at 11:13AM
    In Mexico (November 2010) there is a conflict with Chip & PIN machine readers and UK cards. Since Mexico uses a different Chip type, a lot of the readers can't read the UK cards. We found that only 3 could read them, Santander readers (since it's not a Mexican bank) and also two Mexican bank readers which unfortunately I can't remember the name of (I think one was Banamex but can't swear).

    However, using UK debits cards in any ATM never gave me a problem, but you need to remember to choose "savings account" instead of "current account" (which you would assume is the correct thing to choose!), otherwise no money comes out, and it doesn't even give you an error message, so you just think the machine ate your money.

    In the US (NY particularly) I had severe problems getting money out of ATMs with my Barclays debit card in 2008, only 2 banks would accept it, the rest of the banks' ATMs would decline the transaction, making my trip there a total nightmare. Natwest debit cards seemed to be accepted in more ATMs, but still not in all.
  • I've just returned from a fantastic three-week trip to Iran.

    However, foreign credit cards and debit cards are not accepted throughout the country and it’s impossible to change Travellers Cheques too.

    Take US dollars and Euros to fund your ENTIRE trip. PLUS a little bit more to be on the safe side. Banks can change these but the process is time consuming. Instead, use the official money changing shops which you can find in any major town. Prices are reasonable and it takes seconds. However, you’ll need a large bag to carry your Rials away!

    Word of warning – inflation is running at about 25% so double the prices that are in the latest (2008) Lonely Planet.

    I’d recommend a trip to Iran. Completely safe and I can’t understate how welcoming and hospitable everybody in the country was.
  • xJPx
    xJPx Posts: 1 Newbie
    You can only use Visa in madagascar, not amex or mastercard, travellers cheques are impossible to change and your best bet is taking some euros in cash in case the visa machine doesn't work. You can't take malagasy money out of the country or change it back legally into euros so don't take too much out at the end of your hols, although there are always illegal touts in central Tana if you're desperate. Credit cards aren't generally used for purchases but you can get your money out the hole with a visa easily enough. I lived there for 2years without any problems.
  • eeja
    eeja Posts: 374 Forumite
    Not exactly on the subject but ATM'S now charge three pounds for each withdrawal using UK cards .
    There is one exception however that is AEON machines. These are in many places and towns (you can check their website) and make NO charge.
    By the way where charges are made they appear on the screen before any withdrawal is made .
  • JulieGeorgiana
    JulieGeorgiana Posts: 2,475
    Debt-free and Proud!
    edited 18 March 2011 at 1:11PM
    In Germany I had my credit card declined multiple times (just not at petrol stations). It took me ages to find out why.

    My German family thought it was strange, as they all used cards, until they realised it was a Credit Card. Ends up in Germany most people only spend what they earn and Credit Cards are pretty much non-existant, therefore not accepted in most shops!

    I then tried to get cash from my debit card at the one and only bank which is supposed to not charge, only after two attempts at different branches that never worked either... so i spent a fortune getting it from a normal bank.

    The problem with this whole thing is... I checked with my credit card company before i left who said I shouldn;t have a problem, even when I rang to find out why it was declined they couldn't work it out!!!!
    We spend money we don't have, on things that we don't need, to impress people we don't like. I don't and I'm happy!
    :dance: Mortgage Free Wannabe :dance:
    Overpayments Made: £5400 - Interest Saved: £11,550 - Months Saved: 24
  • We were in Budapest about 18 months ago & found that most restaurants would not accept credit cards - either Mastercard or Visa, although the local ( Official) guides indicated that they would. Fortunately it was easy to change cash (£s) for the local currency, but if going it is worth taking some UK cash.
    BTW, if a pensioner, you can use your English bus passes on buses, trams, the underground & local trains to travel for free in Budapest. This is mentiioned in small print in the `Guide for UK Visitors' issued by the Tourist Office

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