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Using a credit card in Barbados
Use your credit card freely, but carry some cash as well.
Many of the local small businesses in Barbados are still primarily cash-based, so you’ll need to carry dollars as well as a card. However, hotels, car hire companies, the majority of restaurants plus the ever-popular boat trip companies will all happily accept card payments. Visa and Mastercard credit cards are widely accepted and you might be able to use your American Express card in some places, too.
Some businesses, including the majority of supermarkets, require you to show a valid photo ID when you use your credit or debit card, and some might insist on looking at your passport. In many locations you’ll be asked to sign for the transaction, either on paper on the card reader, so don’t forget to sign your card before you go.
Compare cards for use in Barbados
Potential credit card fees in Barbados
There are 2 types of fees you could incur when using your credit card in Barbados:
- Foreign transaction fees. Many cards charge a fee of 2.5%, although some cards charge as much as 3%. This means that every $1,000 spent abroad could cost you between $25 and $30 in fees.
- Currency conversion fees. If a merchant offers you the option to pay in Canadian dollars instead of local currency, you’ll get a Dynamic Currency Conversion. This means the local bank will provide the exchange rate, which is usually higher than the mid-market rate.
Can I incur both fees?
Yes. Avoid this by paying in local currency and by using a credit card without foreign transaction fees.
Which credit card issuers are accepted in Barbados?
Some merchants accept American Express or Discover cards, but they aren’t as popular and widespread as Visa and Mastercard.
You may not find any ATMs that accept Discover or American Express cards.
Should I use my credit card to get cash in Barbados?
Smaller shops and restaurants may not accept credit cards, but everyone takes US dollars. Keep around $200 USD in your wallet to pay for such things as flying fish “cutters” (sandwiches made with Bajan salt bread), snacks, drinks, souvenirs, taxis and so on.
If you make an ATM cash withdrawal with a credit card, you’ll incur cash advance fees and an annual percentage rate (APR). Using a debit card for cash withdrawals can help you avoid cash advance fees, but you’ll likely be charged a currency conversion fee. Note that banks set withdrawal limits on debit cards, so before you travel, make sure you know your limit and ask the bank to increase it if necessary.
Do taxis in Barbados accept credit cards?
No, but you can pay in US dollars. Note that there’s no Uber in Barbados.
Chip and PIN credit cards
Chip and PIN credit cards are slowly gaining traction in Barbados. Don’t forget that you may be asked for photo ID when using your card at a shop.
Be sure to ask your bank for a PIN before traveling to Barbados.
Is it safe to use my credit card in Barbados?
By exercising some caution when using your credit card in Barbados, you’ll have a relatively trouble-free experience.
- Keep your PIN safe. Use one hand to enter the PIN and the other to shield it from prying eyes and hidden cameras.
- Select ATMs with care. Try and stick to ATMs in banks and avoid using ones in the street.
- Watch out for “skimmers”. When installed in an ATM, a card skimmer works by stealing information from credit and debit cards. If you feel the card slot is not as smooth as it should be or if there’s a problem with the keypad, cancel your transaction and look for another ATM.
How to prepare before traveling to Barbados
- Get a credit card without foreign transaction fees. This will save you 2.5% – 3% on every purchase made abroad.
- Visa and Mastercard are universally accepted. Amex and Discover cards, on the other hand, are only accepted at some places and rarely at ATMs.
- Notify your bank before you travel. Your bank may block your card otherwise.
- Get your bank’s phone number. You can quickly resolve issues with your card by calling.
- Get a backup card. This way you’ll always be covered should something happen to your other card.
- Get some cash. US dollars are accepted, but it’s best to pay in the local currency, Bajan dollars (BBD).
Consider getting a Visa or Mastercard as they are more widely accepted and you’ll easily find ATMs should you need cash.
Opt to use a debit card to make cash withdrawals as they have no associated cash advance fees and APR. A credit card without foreign transaction fees is the best choice for making purchases abroad
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