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Using a credit card in Nigeria

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Make the most of your plastic in a country with limited credit card acceptance.

Nigeria hasn’t moved with the times as fast as other African countries, so it’s worth getting clued up on how to get the best out of your plastic.

The two major credit card networks are Visa and Mastercard, but due to widespread financial fraud, cash is still king in Nigeria. The country has only just started to offer American Express after years on the provider’s black list, so you may find it hard to use your Amex.

While many of the big hotels and businesses may affect credit cards, you are more likely to come across vendors that only accept cash payments.

Our pick for use in Nigeria

Hilton Honors American Express Card

  • Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Honors portfolio of brands.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
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See Rates & Fees
Promoted

Compare cards for use in Nigeria

Credit cards without foreign transaction fees can save you a fee of up to 3% on every purchase made outside the US.

Name Product Foreign transaction fee Annual fee Purchase APR Filter values
None
$0
17.49% to 26.49% 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
$0
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.74%, 19.74% or 23.74% variable)
Earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
None
$495
16.74% variable
Receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
None
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.49% to 26.49% variable
Earn 60,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months, plus $50 when you make a direct Delta purchase in the same timeframe. Rates & fees
None
$195
17.49% to 26.49% variable
Earn 75,000 miles and 5,000 MQMs after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months plus $100 when you make a Delta purchase in the same timeframe. Rates & fees

Compare up to 4 providers

If you often travel to Nigeria, you could save money with the following cards:

United Airlines and their partner Lufthansa offer flights between the US and Nigeria. With a United credit card, you could earn and redeem miles on these flights and save money on purchases abroad.

Consider a cobranded Delta credit card, too. Delta offers nonstop flights to Lagos with a shorter flight duration than competitor airlines. However, since this is an American Express card, consider using it only to save money on your flights, as it may not be accepted in Nigeria.

Potential credit card fees in Nigeria

Using a credit card in Nigeria could come with the following fees:

  • Foreign transaction fees. Depending on your card, you could pay a fee of up to 3% on every purchase made abroad. That’s a $150 fee for every $5,000 spent in Nigeria.
  • Currency conversion fees. If a vendor offers you the option to pay in US dollars, or if an ATM offers you to withdraw US dollars, you will get a Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC). DCC often comes with a poor conversion rate.

Can I incur both fees?

Yes. Avoid this by paying in local currency and using a credit card without foreign transaction fees.

Which credit card issuers are accepted in Nigeria?

American Express cards are accepted only in high-end restaurants and hotels. Discover cards aren’t accepted at all.

Merchant acceptance
ATM acceptance
Visa
exclamation point iconMedium
exclamation point iconMedium
Mastercard
exclamation point iconMedium
exclamation point iconMedium
American Express
cross mark iconLow
cross mark iconNot accepted
Discover
cross mark iconNot accepted
cross mark iconNot accepted

Should I use my credit card to get cash in Nigeria?

Credit card purchases in Nigeria are limited to hotels and restaurants at popular tourist destinations. You’ll need cash to make purchases everywhere else.

ATMs can give you a good exchange rate for local currency, but using a credit card will incur a cash advance fee and interest from the moment you make the withdrawal. You can avoid this with a debit card.

How to send cash to Nigeria

Do taxis in Nigeria accept credit cards?

No, but you can try calling Uber and paying with a credit card through the app.

Chip-and-PIN credit cards

Nigerians mostly use chip-and-PIN credit cards. If you want to avoid unpleasant situations and card declines, ask your bank to provide you with a four-digit PIN before traveling.

Is it safe to use my credit card in Nigeria?

Nigeria is known for credit card fraud, which is why it was blacklisted by Amex for so long. Follow these tips to improve your credit card safety:

  • Select ATMs with care. ATMs attached to banks are generally safer than ones on the street.
  • Take two cards. If your card is stolen or your payments are declined, having a second card could prove helpful.
  • Keep your card in sight. Avoid card misuse by watching your card every time you use it to pay.

How to prepare before traveling to Nigeria

  1. Get a credit card without foreign transaction fees. This can save you up to 3% on every purchase made abroad.
  2. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted. American Express and Discover are more rarely accepted in Nigeria.
  3. Notify your bank before you travel. Financial fraud is common in Nigeria. Unless you notify your bank, it could lock your card after your first transaction.
  4. Get your bank’s phone number. This is the fastest way to resolve any card-related issues.
  5. Get a backup card. If your card gets blocked, you could be left without money. Having a backup card is one solution.
  6. Get some cash. Cash is king in Nigeria, so make sure you have enough.

Bottom line

Credit cards aren’t widely accepted in Nigeria, although this may change in the future. Until then, carry enough cash to get around.

Consider using a debit card for cash withdrawals to avoid cash advance fees and an APR. For everything else you buy, a credit card without foreign transaction fees is the way to go.
See more guides on using a credit card in other countries.

Frequently asked questions

Disclaimer

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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