Using a credit card in Taiwan

Get a card without foreign transaction fees and decline "dynamic currency conversion" to avoid paying unnecessary fees.

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You’ll find that Mastercard and Visa are more popular in Taiwan than American Express, but you can still pay with your Amex card in some places or use an ATM. Despite that, Taiwan is still mostly dependent on cash. In some places, like family restaurants or small shops, you may not be able to pay with your credit card at all.

There are a few potential fees to watch out for when you’re paying with plastic:

  • Foreign transaction fees. A non-sterling fee of around 3% per transaction can apply, depending on your credit card. That’s £30 in fees for every £1,000 spent with your card.
  • Merchant currency conversion fees. Sometimes, a merchant will offer to take payment in pounds instead of in New Taiwan dollars. This is known as a dynamic currency conversion (DCC) and often comes with higher fees than if you paid in the local currency.
  • Cash advance fees. Your card issuer may charge a fee for cash advances (withdrawing cash using your credit card). Cash machine providers sometimes charge a fee too.
  • ATM fees. The provider of a cash machine may charge a fee if you withdraw cash using your card.

It’s also worth noting that when it comes to cash advances and non-sterling transactions, card issuers will often start charging interest on the day your account is debited, rather than the customary “up to 55 days interest-free” that applies when you clear your balance in full each month.

Here’s a section of a fairly typical T&Cs document showing the charges applicable when spending abroad:

section of credit card summary box document

How can I avoid the fees?

Consider taking out a credit card offering commission-free currency conversion (see table below), even if you only use it when you’re out of the country. Once you have one of these cards, if a merchant offers to take payment in pounds, say you’re happy to pay in New Taiwan dollars, since you know your own bank won’t charge you for the privilege.

Generally speaking it’s not a great idea to use a credit card to withdraw cash, but some travel credit cards won’t penalise you for this either. Finally, make sure to check whether the ATM you use is going to charge a fee. Bank ATMs are generally a safer bet than those in convenience stores or bars.

Compare cards with fee-free currency conversion in Taiwan

Table: sorted by representative APR, promoted deals first
Updated November 16th, 2019
Name Product Purchases Annual/monthly fees Credit limits Rep. APR Incentive Representative example
9.9%
£0
Min. limit £300, max. limit not specified.
9.9% p.a. (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 9.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 9.9% APR (variable).
9.9%
£0
Min. limit £300, max. limit not specified.
9.9% p.a. (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 9.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 9.9% APR (variable).
24.9%
£0
Min. limit £500, max. limit £1,500.
24.9% p.a. (variable)
No fees for making purchases or withdrawing cash abroad – currencies are converted at the standard Mastercard exchange rate.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 24.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 24.9% APR (variable).
9.9%
£0
Min. limit £500, max. limit not specified.
9.9% p.a. (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 9.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 9.9% APR (variable).
9.9%
£0
Min. limit £500, max. limit not specified.
9.9% p.a. (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 9.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 9.9% APR (variable).
9.9%
£0
Min. limit £400, max. limit not specified.
9.9% p.a. (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 9.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 9.9% APR (variable).
14.71%
£0
Min. limit not specified, max. limit not specified.
14.7% p.a. (variable)
Eligible for Coutts Travel Rewards, receive a cash reward at participating retailers in selected countries.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 14.71% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 14.7% APR (variable).
0% for 12 months reverting to 15.9%
£0
Min. limit £500, max. limit not specified.
15.9% p.a. (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 15.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 15.9% APR (variable).

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Are American Express cards accepted in Taiwan?

American Express cards are accepted in Taiwan, but not as much as Visa and Mastercard are. If you want to withdraw cash with your Amex card, look for Chinatrust Commercial Bank ATMs.

Chip-and-PIN credit cards

You shouldn’t have any problem if you have a chip-and-PIN card. Just make sure the logo of your card matches the logo on the ATM or POS terminal.

Is it safe to use my credit card in Taiwan?

Yes, it’s safe to use your credit card in Taiwan. But for added security, consider the following precautions:

  • Use an ATM within a bank. This is particularly useful if for some reason the ATM holds your card. You’ll be able to quickly get it back with assistance from one of the branch employees. ATMs within a bank are also less likely to be tampered with.
  • Take two credit cards. You may lose your card or it may not work. By having a back-up card, you won’t be left without money.
  • Keep your card in sight. Although rare, card cloning can happen in Taiwan. To avoid this, make sure you keep your card in sight.

Do taxis in Taiwan accept credit cards?

In general, they don’t. But if you want to pay for your ride with a credit card, you can use Uber. Typically, Uber is less expensive than a regular taxi in Taiwan anyway.

How to prepare before traveling to Taiwan

  1. Get a credit card without foreign transaction fees. Most travel cards have no fees when used outside of the UK.
  2. Opt for Mastercard or Visa. They’re universally accepted, while American Express is less popular in Taiwan.
  3. Get a back-up card. If something happens to your primary card, you’ll have another card to help you out.
  4. Get some cash. If you need to use an ATM to withdraw cash, opt for one at the airport or in the city. ATMs in Taiwan have favourable exchange rates and usually have no additional fees.
  5. Inform your bank you’re travelling to Taiwan. If you don’t, your bank may consider your foreign transactions to be fraudulent and block your card. When you’re scheduling your trip, you can ask your bank if it has partner banks in Taiwan as well.
  6. Get your bank’s phone number. If you lose your card or have any other card-related issues, you’ll know who to call.

Bottom line

Credit cards aren’t as widely accepted in Taiwan as in other places, but they’re safe to use and you shouldn’t have a problem paying where credit cards are accepted. Your only issues might be the foreign transaction fees and DCC, but with the right credit card and by declining DCC when offered, you can save some money.

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