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 rentals, the majority of restaurants and 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 request your passport. In many locations you’ll be asked to sign for the transaction, so remember to sign your card before you go.
There are two types of fees you could incur when using your credit card in Barbados:
- Foreign transaction fees. Depending on your card, you could pay a fee of up to 3%. This means every $1,000 spent abroad could cost you $30 in fees.
- Currency conversion fees. If a merchant offers you the option to pay in US 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.
Avoid these fees by paying in local currency and using a credit card without foreign transaction fees.
Using a credit card with no foreign transaction fee can save you up to 3% on every transaction you make abroad.
Save money in Barbados using a card without foreign transaction fees:
Both American Airlines and JetBlue Airways fly between the US and Barbados. With one of their cards, you could earn and redeem miles on your flights.
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 like the card doesn’t insert as smoothly as it should or if there’s a problem with the keypad, cancel your transaction and look for another ATM.
- Get a credit card without foreign transaction fees. This will save you up to 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. Give them a call to quickly resolve issues with your card.
- 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 local currency.
If you make an ATM cash withdrawal with a credit card, you’ll incur cash advance fees and an APR. Use a debit card for cash withdrawals to avoid such fees.
Smaller shops and restaurants may not accept credit cards, but everyone takes US dollars. Keep around $200 in your wallet to pay for such things as flying fish “cutters”, snacks, drinks, souvenirs, taxis and so on.
Do taxis in Barbados accept credit cards?
No, but you can pay in US dollars. Note that Uber doesn’t operate 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.
Remember to ask your bank for a PIN before traveling to Barbados.
Consider getting a Visa or Mastercard as they’re 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 travel credit card is the best choice for making purchases abroad without incurring foreign transaction fees.
See more guides on using a credit card in other countries.