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



  • gavhen
    gavhen Posts: 42 Forumite
    I don't often have much to contribute to these hunts but I've just got back from Sierra Leone with work, although not sure how many off here will be going there soon. Fortunately we knew in advance but there are practically no ATM's in Sierra Leone, think there's only about 2 in the whole of Freetown that will take foreign cards. Credit cards are also not accepted anywhere essentially, just don't even think that you might be able to use one at all in your visit. This includes places where you would expect definitely be able to - even the airport/airline desks can't take them and it's a long journey into Freetown to the nearest ATM!

    Fortunately almost anyone will accept payment in dollars and maybe sterling, maybe not at the best rates though so worth hunting around for the best rate and changing. When changing dollars with anyone try and change only large denominations (50 notes or larger) as the larger the note the better the rate, and the more likely they will accept them.

    Any large payments should probably be done in dollars anyway just so you don't have to carry around a huge bag just for the Leones. There's about 7000 Leones to the dollar and prices for a foreign visitor are not always as cheap as you think they might be, therefore millions of Leones been spent on hotels, etc is not unusual. Unfortunately though it seems quite hard to find Leone notes in large denominations, we never really had higher than a 10k or 20k note.

    Having said all this, loved the place and hope I get to back again soon!!
  • neverpayanyinterest
    neverpayanyinterest Posts: 10 Forumite
    edited 17 March 2011 at 8:30PM
    Anyone travelling to Cuba be aware they will not accept any card that is issued by an American bank - or has any affiliation with America - this includes santander, capitol 1 etc, any card they will accept is subject to a government charge of 12.25% on top of the normal charges (if you can find anywhere to use it) - So cash only for most things, also note us dollars are not accepted when changing money except in banks and then subject to 12.25% handling charge
  • I've just returned from holiday in Malaysia. Although the use of credit cards is widely available, it's worth knowing that they do not have a debit card system. Basically its cash or credit card. you can still get cash from an ATM with your debit card though.
  • I've had no problem with ATMs or visa debit in germany, but sometimes had problems in France getting petrol as many petrol stations would only take Carte Bleue
  • Cuba also for us. Not just the american bank thing mentioned above but when you are off the beaten track, (ie not in havana and presumably resorts like varadero, although we didnt go there) there are no ATMs in any event. We carried round A LOT of £sterling and spent it as we went around, changing a coupe of hundred at a time. Not too much crime so we werent too worried.
    hope that helps!
    Debt free March 2010
    Focussing on babies and paying off the mortgage! :)
  • Burma - no ATMs in the country as has already been noted. There is nowhere to obtain American dollars in Burma, so if you don't take enough with you you're well and truly stuck. And Burma is not as cheap as you might think it would be if you want to do the normal tourist things - and have a beer! If you run out you have to make your way to Thailand and get more dollars! Almost everyone welcomes US dollars for payment meaning that you don't need to change to huge stacks of local currency, although some of course is always needed. A very few of the very top hotels who also have facilities in the likes of Singapore will take payment by credit card as long as you ask in advance, but a fairly hefty commission is charged for paying by card. But Burma is fabulous, do go, but be prepared moneywise.
  • bylromarha
    bylromarha Posts: 10,085 Forumite
    I've been Money Tipped!
    Phnom Penh is mostly a cash economy. US Dollars only.

    Cashpoints at the airport and a few at the banks dotted around.

    Only places I could use my credit card to pay was at a really nice restaurant, the hotel bill and a western style supermarket.

    Siem Reap has more places that accept credit cards and a couple of cashpoints.
    Who made hogs and dogs and frogs?
  • littlestar1981
    littlestar1981 Posts: 1,595 Forumite
    Combo Breaker First Post
    All ATM's accepted Visa cards, though sometimes you have to try more than once to get money as sometimes you had to choose 'checking' account and other days 'current' account, it really did depend on the banks mood!

    There are more ATMs advertising Mastercard now but they still rarely work.

    Exim bank ATMs not only charges a withdrawal fee but ALSO a currency conversion fee (this was with a A&L/Santander card) so I didn't use Exim bank for withdrawals
    OU Student! - ED209, SDK125, DSE212, SK124, DSE141, SD226, DXR222, DD303, DD307 = BSc Psychology
  • Jennikay
    Jennikay Posts: 258 Forumite
    Never had a problem with my credit card in Germany, but then I mainly used it for big things like eating out or Phantasialand tickets I suppose. :think:
  • Doc_N
    Doc_N Posts: 8,267 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post Photogenic First Anniversary
    I spend most weekends in the Netherlands - very few of their shops will accept credit cards, or VISA debit cards. You need Maestro! It's a pain, because all of my debit cards are VISA, and my Mastercards or VISA credit cards aren't accepted.

    Most ATMs will allow me to withdraw on either a credit or debit card; but otherwise my Dutch boyfriend simply has to pay. :)

    My Dutch friends tend not to use credit cards; they are very wary of them. My boyfriend uses his only to book Eurotunnel or P&O ferries, as they won't allow him to use his Dutch debit card! It's all hassle.

    It does make me wonder how Mastercard and VISA often have slogans in their advertising to the effect of "can be used in xxx countries" (in my memory they quote about 200 countries - I'd certainly expect mainland Europe to be included here!).

    I suppose it must depend where you shop. I've never had a problem in the Netherlands using Visa or Mastercard credit cards.
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