Using a credit card in Nepal

Whether visiting the Changu Narayan temple or trekking the Himalayas, this is your go-to guide to spending on your credit card in Nepal.

From one of the most famous mountainscapes to its rich history, Nepal is at the top of many trekkers’ travel lists for a good reason. Plus, most major shops and restaurants accept Visa, Mastercard and American Express. So, when buying your snacks and souvenirs, have the peace of mind that your UK credit or debit card should work fine.

However, if you’re venturing into the smaller towns, you might find that many vendors request cash-only payments. Just to be safe, it’s always worth carrying some Nepalese Rupees (NPR) as an emergency backup.

Currency and exchange rates

The official currency of Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee. When using your credit card for purchases, transactions are typically conducted in NPR. However, some merchants catering to international visitors may offer the option to pay in US dollars or other major currencies. It’s essential to be aware of the exchange rates and any associated fees charged by your credit card issuer for foreign currency transactions.

What about fees?

Before using your credit card in Nepal, it’s important to understand the fees and charges associated with your card. Credit card fees can leave a noticeable dent in your pocket when you are travelling overseas, so know what you are up against well in advance and choose a card with no or low fees.

Foreign transaction fees

British credit card issuers typically charge a fee equivalent to 1% to 3% of your transaction, so carefully review your card’s fine print to avoid statement surprises. Some cards designed for travel come with no foreign transaction fees, so this could be a good time to switch.

Learn more about cards designed for overseas spending

Currency conversion fees

If a retailer offers to bill your credit card in sterling, dynamic currency conversion comes into play. While this might sound like a good deal, you’ll actually get a worse exchange rate and might also end up paying currency conversion fees. Whenever you’re presented with an option, choose to pay in the local currency.

Cash advance fees

Using your credit card to withdraw money from an ATM may not make sense unless it’s a bona fide emergency. Each time you withdraw funds from an ATM, you’re likely to pay a cash advance fee. Your APR for cash advances is typically higher than your purchase APR, and you won’t get any grace period on interest – instead, you start paying interest immediately. Again, some cards designed for overseas spending waive this fee.

The table below serves as an example of how much extra you may pay to use your credit card in Nepal.

section of credit card summary box document

Additionally, you can get an idea of costs by using these online currency conversion tools from Mastercard and Visa.

What is a cash advance fee?

A cash advance fee is calculated (and charged) when you withdraw cash from your credit card. It’s usually the greater of a flat fee or a percentage of the transaction. For example, “2.5% of the transaction, minimum £3.00”.

Cash machines in Nepal

ATMs are widely available in Nepal, with many accepting international Visas and Mastercards. You might find it a little harder to find a local ATM that accepts American Express – however, they are becoming more readily available in recent years. As with any cash machine, you should be wary of theft and fraud. You should also check your card’s T&Cs for any additional charges, such as FX and cash advance fees.

Is it safe to use my card in Nepal?

Exercising caution when using your credit card in Nepal will give you 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.
  • Carry a backup card and cash. You never know what might happen, so having access to emergency money could be a lifesaver.

How to prepare before travelling to Nepal

  1. Go with Visa or Mastercard. Carry at least 2 cards on your trip to Nepal, preferably connected with Visa or Mastercard. A backup card could help if something goes wrong with your primary card.
  2. Go with cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees. When there are cards with no foreign transaction fees, using ones that charge 2% or 3% of each overseas transaction doesn’t make sense.
  3. Tell you issuer. Banks, in their efforts to thwart fraudulent transactions, block credit cards if they detect suspicious activity, such as unexpected overseas transactions. To make sure this does not happen to your card, let your bank know about your travel plans.
  4. Keep the emergency number handy. Know which numbers you’ll need to call if you lose your card or need an emergency replacement.

Bottom line

With the widespread acceptance of credit cards in its major cities, Nepal offers convenience and security for both residents and tourists. However, if you’re venturing out of these major cities, it’s good to carry some cash just in case. Remember to plan ahead, check the fees associated with your card, notify your bank and exercise caution to have seamless card transactions in this beautiful Himalayan nation.

Compare cards with fee-free currency conversion in Nepal

Table: sorted by representative APR, promoted deals first
Name Product Finder score Finder score Purchases Annual/monthly fees Initial credit limits Representative APR Incentive Link
The Royal Bank Credit Card
4.5
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
12.9%
£0
Min. limit £250, max. limit not specified.
12.9% APR (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 12.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 12.9% APR (variable).
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NatWest Credit Card
4.5
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
12.9%
£0
Min. limit £250, max. limit not specified.
12.9% APR (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 12.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 12.9% APR (variable).
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Santander All in One Credit Card
4.5
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
0% for 15 months reverting to 23.9%
£3 per month
Min. limit £500, max. limit not specified.
29.8% APR (variable)
0.5% after £1 of monthly spend. Maximum of £10 cashback paid per month. Cashback paid Monthly into Card Account. Maximum spend for cashback purposes is limited to credit limit.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 23.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £3 per month, your representative rate is 29.8% APR (variable).
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118 118 Money Guaranteed Rate Card
3.5
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
34%
£0
Min. limit £500, max. limit not specified.
34% APR (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 34% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 34% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
NatWest Reward Black Credit Card
4.0
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
21.9%
£84 per annum. Reward Black Current Account holders: Year 2 onwards - £0 per annum
Min. limit £5,000, max. limit not specified.
40.7% APR (variable)
You'll earn 1% back at supermarkets and 0.5% back everywhere else, including supermarket petrol stations. At selected retailers, you could earn 1-15% back.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £84 per annum. Reward Black Current Account holders: Year 2 onwards - £0 per annum, your representative rate is 40.7% APR (variable).
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Approval for any credit card depends on your status. The representative APRs shown represent the interest rate offered to most successful applicants. Depending on your personal circumstances, the APR you're offered may be higher, or you may not be offered credit at all. Fees and rates are subject to change without notice. It's always wise to check the terms of any deal before you borrow.

How to use a credit card in …

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you.

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