Using a credit card in Qatar

Use our guide to get the best out of your plastic, and your cash, on holiday in Qatar.

Whether you’re skydiving over the Arabian coast or visiting the home of the 2022 World Cup, Qatar is one of the top holiday destinations for many Brits this year. But with an action-packed itinerary, it’s worth knowing how you can use your UK credit card when you’re trying to pay for your new dallah.

If you’re planning to use your credit card in Qatar, you’re in luck, as most larger stores accept both credit and debit cards and you shouldn’t have any issues. However, independent and smaller stores or restaurants might be strictly cash only – so make sure you have some to hand to save yourself from an embarrassing situation with the waiter.

Cash machines in Qatar

ATMs are widely available in Qatar and can be found in most shopping malls, hotels and some souqs. However, like with any cash machine, you should be sensitive to the risks of fraud and theft and take the necessary precautions.

Cash in Qatar

Although you shouldn’t have an issue finding ATMs or paying by card in most shops, restaurants or hotels while in Qatar, it is always worth carrying some spare cash with you. Plus, when making small purchases it is often simpler to pay using cash rather than fishing out potential card fees.

You should note that it is important to always ensure that your cash is not damaged, as most merchants may refuse to accept any damaged banknotes and you could be fined up to 20,000 Qatari rials.

Chip and PIN

Chip and PIN is a common form of payment method in Qatar, exactly the same as in the UK. Simply insert your card and enter your 4-digit PIN.

Contactless is also widely accepted in Qatar, just keep an eye out for the contactless payments symbol. If your credit card network is Visa, then the contactless limit in Qatar is QAR300. If your credit card network is Mastercard, then you will have to check with your bank, as individual banks may set different limits.

Is it safe to use my card in Qatar?

By exercising some caution when using your credit card in Qatar, 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.

Keeping your credit card (physically) safe

While crime rates are relatively low in Qatar, theft and pickpocketing is one of the top crimes to be cautious of when travelling, so always remain alert and keep a close eye on your belongings. Whether you’re in a crowded tourist destination or on a peaceful beach, stay aware of your surroundings so that you don’t have to spend your holiday sorting out stolen or lost credit cards.

Potential credit card fees

Credit card fees can leave a noticeable dent in your pocket when you’re travelling overseas, so know what you’re 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 1–3% 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 end up getting a worse exchange rate and you 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’ll typically get no grace period on interest — instead, you start paying interest immediately. Again, some cards designed for overseas spending will waive this fee.

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

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”.

How to prepare before travelling to Qatar

  1. Go with Visa or Mastercard. Carry at least 2 cards on your trip to Qatar, preferably connected with Visa or Mastercard. You can take an American Express card as a backup if you wish, although it is not as commonly accepted as Visa and Mastercard credit cards but is still accepted in some places. Try to bring multiple cards to ensure you are prepared for any unforeseen circumstances.
  2. Think no foreign transaction fees. When there are cards that come with no foreign transaction fees, using ones that charge 2% or 3% of each overseas transaction does not make sense. Some of these cards don’t charge an annual fee, either.
  3. Keep your bank posted. 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 before you leave the UK.
  4. Keep the emergency number handy. Know which numbers you’ll need to call if you end up losing your card or if you need an emergency replacement.
  5. Know where you’ll get cash from. Consider using your debit card to withdraw cash from ATMs as you are less likely to incur the higher fees associated with credit cards. If you need to exchange money, stick to banks or official money-exchange offices because possessing counterfeit money in Qatar is a serious crime. Try to avoid exchanging money at airports and popular tourist destinations because of typically poor exchange rates.

Next steps

Ask yourself these simple questions before you leave so your spending in Qatar does not hit any roadblocks:

  • Which cards will I take? Visa and Mastercard are your safest bet. If you’re planning a trip, check out cards which give you complimentary airport lounge access. If you’re planning well in advance, consider earning air miles for your trip with a frequent flyer credit card.
  • Have I let my bank know? If you don’t inform your bank about your travel plans, you may end up with a temporarily suspended card.
  • What fees do I need to pay? If your existing cards come with foreign transaction fees, look for one that does not. Paying in sterling outside of the UK might come with currency conversion fees.
  • How will I get cash? Using your debit card at an ATM is the simplest way to access your own money. Most shops and restaurants won’t accept cheques.

Compare cards with fee-free currency conversion in Qatar

Table: sorted by representative APR, promoted deals first
1 - 8 of 24
Name Product Finder Score Finder score Purchases Annual/monthly fees Initial credit limits Representative APR Incentive Link
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. Every time you spend abroad in the local currency using your Santander debit or credit card between 18 June to 15 September 2024, you'll be entered into a prize draw to win 1 of 18 travel vouchers each worth £5,000 each. T&Cs apply.
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).
Check eligibility
Yonder Credit Card
Finder Award
Yonder Credit Card
4.5
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
29.94%
1 month for £0, £15 per month thereafter
Min. limit not specified, max. limit not specified.
66.7% APR (variable)
First month free for new members, £15 p/m thereafter. Plus, 10,000 bonus points. Earn 5 points per £1 spent and up to 25 points per £1 at selected partners. Membership includes worldwide travel insurance, no FX fees and use your points towards any flight.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 29.94% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £15 per month, your representative rate is 66.7% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
118 118 Money Guaranteed Rate Card
3.6
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
49%
£0
Min. limit £500, max. limit not specified.
49% APR (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 49% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 49% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
Yonder 'No Fee' Credit Card
4.0
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
32.9%
£0
Min. limit not specified, max. limit not specified.
32.9% APR (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 32.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 32.9% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
Additional account needed
Santander Edge Credit Card Mastercard
4.5
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
23.9%
£3 per month
Min. limit £500, max. limit not specified.
29.8% APR (variable)
2% after £1 of monthly spend. 1% after £1 of monthly spend. Maximum of £15 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).
The Royal Bank Credit Card
4.7
★★★★★
★★★★★
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).
NatWest Credit Card
4.7
★★★★★
★★★★★
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).
Royal Bank of Scotland Reward Black Credit Card
4.0
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
21.9%
£84 per annum. Reward Black Current Account holders: £0 per annum
Min. limit £5,000, max. limit not specified.
40.7% APR (variable)
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: £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. Most of the data in Finder's comparison tables is provided by Moneyfacts.

How to use a credit card in …

Frequently asked questions

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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. Most of the data in Finder's comparison tables has the source: Moneyfacts Group PLC. In other cases, Finder has sourced data directly from providers.
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Emily Herring is a Publisher at Finder specialising in credit-based products including credit cards and business and personal loans. Emily has recently joined the Investments team. She has a Masters in Creative Writing & Publishing and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication & Media. See full bio

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