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Using a credit card in Nigeria
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 accept credit cards, you are more likely to come across vendors that only accept cash payments.
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Credit cards without foreign transaction fees can save you a fee of up to 3% on every purchase made outside the US.
If you often travel to Nigeria, you could save money with the following cards:
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?
Wherever cards are an accepted payment method in Nigeria, it’s likely it’ll be Visa or Mastercard. American Express cards are accepted only in high-end restaurants and hotels. Discover cards aren’t accepted at all.
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.
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
- Get a credit card without foreign transaction fees. This can save you up to 3% on every purchase made abroad.
- Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted. American Express and Discover are more rarely accepted in Nigeria.
- 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.
- Get your bank’s phone number. This is the fastest way to resolve any card-related issues.
- Get a backup card. If your card gets blocked, you could be left without money. Having a backup card is one solution.
- Get some cash. Cash is king in Nigeria, so make sure you have enough.
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 travel 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
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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