Going to Iceland? A guide to using a credit card in Iceland | finder.com
Woman standing in a cliff in Iceland

Using a credit card in Iceland

We value our editorial independence, basing our comparison results, content and reviews on objective analysis without bias. But we may receive compensation when you click links on our site. Learn more about how we make money from our partners.

The use of credit and debit cards is very common in Iceland, which people rely on to pay for even the smallest of purchases. Almost all hotels and most businesses in the country accept cards, and you can even use yours to pay for a cab ride, a coffee or an ice-cream.

The most commonly accepted cards are ones with Visa and Mastercard branding, although American Express and Diners Club cards find takers as well. Acceptance of Maestro, Electron and EDC debit cards is on the rise. Hardly any establishments accept Discover cards.

Our pick for use overseas

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3x points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit
  • 3x points on dining at restaurants and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
Read less
Read more
Promoted

Compare credit cards for use in Iceland

While planning your trip to Iceland, be sure to add a credit card with no foreign transaction fees to your list. The last thing you want to be worrying about while on vacation is whether these fees will be adding up each time you use your card.

Name Product Currency Conversion Fee Annual Fee APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases
None
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.99% to 24.99% variable
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
None
$450
17.99% to 24.99% variable
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
None
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.74% to 26.74% variable
30,000 bonus miles after you use your new card to make $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
None
$250
See Rates & Fees
50,000 bonus Membership Rewards® Points when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months Rates & Fees
None
$0
17.74% to 26.74% variable
Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & Fees
None
$550
None (Charge Card)
Get 5x Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5x points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com. Rates & Fees
None
$0 annual fee for the first year ($89 thereafter)
17.99%, 21.99% or 24.99% variable
Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
None
$95
17.74% to 26.74% variable
Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 or more in purchases with your new card within the first 3 months of card membership. Rates & Fees
None
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.74% to 26.74% variable
Enjoy a $0 annual fee on the first year and earn up to 2 Starpoints® for every dollar of eligible purchases. Rates & Fees
None
$195
16.99% variable
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.

Compare up to 4 providers

ATMs in Iceland

ATMs are easy to find and you’ll see a few as soon as you arrive at the Keflavík International Airport. You’ll also come by ATMs in most villages. What you need to remember is not all ATMs in Iceland remain accessible round-the-clock. Most ATMs accept international credit, debit and cash cards, although you might want to look for the Cirrus or PLUS logo. ATMs in the country give you a reliable way to get cash, providing competitive exchange rates.

Credit cards in a tropical paradise

Potential credit card fees in Iceland

Using your American credit card in Iceland can burden you with added fees so make sure you find out which fees you’ll need to pay.

Foreign transaction fees

Several credit cards issued by American banks come with foreign transaction fees that you’ll need to pay every time you use the card outside of the US. This fee typically varies from 2% to 3%. Some banks offer cards with no foreign transaction fees. Examples of such cards include the USAA® Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card, the Venture® from Capital One® and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® credit card.

Currency conversion fees

If someone gives you the choice of getting your card swiped in US dollars or Icelandic króna, opt for the latter. Paying in US dollars will subject you to dynamic currency conversion that can lead to less-than-desirable exchange rates along with currency conversion fees. When outside of the US, always choose to pay in the local currency and let your bank do the currency conversion.

Should I use my card to get cash?

Using your credit card for a cash advance is not recommended. You’ll end up paying a cash advance fee, interest will start adding up from the day of the transaction and the APR for cash advances if typically higher than the APR for purchases. If you need to withdraw cash from an ATM, you’ll need a PIN. Check the corresponding table to get an indication of the costs that come with an overseas cash advance.

interest rates and interest charges table

fees table

Is it safe to use my credit card in Iceland?

While it is safe to use your card in Iceland, you should exercise the same level of watchfulness as you would in the US.

Keep your PIN secure. Don’t note down your PIN anywhere. When using a keypad to enter your PIN, use one hand to shield it from curious onlookers and hidden cameras.

Choose ATMs carefully. Try and stick to ATMs found in public places and banks. Avoid ones in isolated spots.

Keeping your credit card (physically) safe

The crime rate in Iceland is low and using common sense can help ensure your card’s safety. Don’t leave your bag on the floor at a bar or a nightclub. Don’t leave your wallet or bag in a parked car. Downtown Reykjavik might become unruly late at night as people leave clubs and bars, with instances of petty theft not uncommon.

Magstripe and chip credit cards

Iceland, like the rest of Europe, has moved from magnetic-stripe cards to chip enabled cards. However, you may still use your magnetic-stripe card in Iceland and you’ll need to sign a receipt to verify the transaction. In some cases, you may need to present some form of ID. Given that chip cards offer enhanced safety, you might want to consider getting one.

Can I use my chip-and-signature card in Iceland?

You can use your chip-and-signature card across most places in Iceland. If you don’t have a PIN, you’ll simply need to sign a receipt and probably show an identification document such as your passport. You will have problems using your card at machines that are not manned. Examples include gas stations, automated parking machines, some public toilets, transit ticket vending machines and food/beverage dispensing machines.

Some supermarkets don’t encourage the use of chip-and-signature cards because processing them takes more time. Some businesses don’t allow their clerks to accept cards with signatures just to avoid confusion.

Paying for gas

Some gas stations don’t accept cash, so you might find yourself in a situation where you have a chip-and-signature card and cash, but no way to pay for your purchase. An easy way to avoid this problem is by buying some prepaid gas cards early into your visit. You’ll need to select a specific brand, and N1 remains the most recommended because of its extensive network.

How to prepare before traveling to Iceland

  1. Carry suitable cards. Visa and Mastercard score over the rest, although you might consider taking your American Express or Diners Club card too.
  2. Avoid foreign transaction fees. If you don’t have a card with no foreign transaction fees, think about getting one before you go.
  3. Tell your bank. Banks, in an effort to minimize fraudulent transactions, can temporarily block cards if they detect suspicious activity. If you don’t let your bank know that you plan to travel to Iceland, you might end up with a suspended card the first time you use it outside of the US.
  4. Keep emergency numbers handy. There’s no way of knowing when you may lose your card and end up requiring a replacement. Make sure the numbers you need remain easily accessible at all times.
  5. Know how you’ll get cash. An easy way to do this is by using your American debit card at an ATM. Exchanging dollars for króna is easy and you get to choose from banks as well as currency exchange offices. Avoid currency exchanges at hotels because of typically high transaction fees.

Next steps

Ask yourself these questions to avoid common credit card related problems in Iceland.

  • Which cards make the cut? While Visa and Mastercard branded cards are the most commonly accepted, you can also think about carrying an American Express or a Diners Club card. Consider taking at least two.
  • Does my bank know? If you bank’s not aware of your upcoming trip, you may have to deal with a temporarily suspended card.
  • Will extra fees make it to my statement? Ask your card provider if you’ll need to pay foreign transaction or currency conversion fees.
  • How will I get cash? Your options include using an American debit card at a local ATM, exchanging money or carrying travelers’ checks.

When in Iceland, you’ll get to use your credit card just about everywhere you go. Ask your bank if you can get a chip-and-PIN card for your travels to further simplify the trip and carry some cash for emergencies.

Using a credit card in …

Frequently asked questions

Megan Horner

As the assistant publisher of credit cards at finder.com, Megan is passionate about helping you compare and find the best credit cards for your situation, whether that is earning great rewards or improving your credit score. In her previous position, Megan worked as an assigning editor at Credit Karma, where she focused on editing and publishing educational articles on credit cards. Megan started her career as a writer at a comparison website, so she has a longstanding background in surfacing the best deals and helping people make decisions. In her spare time, Megan likes to hike, camp, surf, and read.

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

US Credit Card Offers

Important Information*
Deserve® Classic Card
Deserve® Classic Card

APR

24.49
variable

Annual fee

0 For the first year
More info
Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™
Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™

APR

16.74
variable

Annual fee

995 For the first year
More info
First Access Visa Card®
First Access Visa Card®

APR

29.99
variable

Annual fee

75 For the first year
More info
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card

APR

23.9
variable

Annual fee

75 For the first year
More info

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.

US Credit Card Offers

Important Information*
Deserve® Classic Card
Deserve® Classic Card

APR

24.49
variable

Annual fee

0 For the first year
More info
Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™
Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™

APR

16.74
variable

Annual fee

995 For the first year
More info
First Access Visa Card®
First Access Visa Card®

APR

29.99
variable

Annual fee

75 For the first year
More info
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card

APR

23.9
variable

Annual fee

75 For the first year
More info
Go to site