Always carry cash for everyday travel.
You’ll find merchants in large Pakistani cities accept credit cards, but people most everywhere else opt to take cash.
Visa and Mastercard are most likely to be accepted, although more high-end establishments might also accept American Express cards.
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A credit card without foreign transaction fees can save you money on every transaction made abroad.
If you often travel to Pakistan, you could save money with the following cards:
- United℠ Explorer Card
- United MileagePlus® Club card
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
Qatar Airways offers affordable flights between the US and Pakistan. You can earn and redeem airline miles on Qatar flights with an American Airlines credit card as both airlines are members of the Oneworld Alliance.
Alternatively, you can board a Turkish Airlines flight between the US and Pakistan and earn or redeem miles on these flights with a United Airlines cobranded credit card.
Potential credit card fees in Pakistan
You could potentially pay two kinds of fees using a credit card in Pakistan:
- Foreign transaction fees. Depending on your card, you could incur a fee of up to 3% on every transaction made. That’s $30 for every $1,000 spent.
- Currency conversion fees. If you pay a merchant with US dollars, you’ll incur a dynamic currency conversion. This comes with extra fees as the conversion rate is usually worse than what you’d find at your own bank.
Can I incur both fees?
Yes. To avoid this, get a credit card without foreign transaction fees or pay with local currency when you can.
Which credit card issuers are accepted in Pakistan?
American Express cards are accepted, but only in high-end hotels and restaurants. Merchants don’t accept Discover cards yet. But if you’re looking to make a cash withdrawal, Discover uses Citibank ATMs while Amex has no ATMs in the country as of February 2019.
Should I use my credit card to get cash in Pakistan?
Pakistan remains a cash-based society, so it’s recommended to have enough rupees to cover your back at all times. This is especially necessary for smaller establishments, or in lesser-known towns across the country.
You’ll get the best exchange rate making cash withdrawals at ATMs. But using a credit card instead of a debit card means you’re taking a cash advance and pay an APR on that money.
Do taxis in Pakistan accept credit cards?
No. Even Uber, which operates in a few cities, accepts only cash.
Chip and PIN credit cards
Most merchants and ATMs use chip and PIN cards. All ATMs in the country require a four-digit PIN to make a cash withdrawal. If you don’t have one, call your bank before you leave and ask them to provide you with a PIN for your card.
Is it safe to use my credit card in Pakistan?
There have been reports of credit card fraud in Pakistan, mainly for card cloning. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use your card safely. Be cautious and follow a few simple safety tips:
- Select ATMs with care. ATMs attached to a bank are generally safer, and you can more easily retrieve your card should it get stuck in the machine.
- Take two cards. If you lose your primary card or if it’s blocked, a backup card is a handy solution.
- Keep your card in sight. This way you’ll avoid card cloning or card misuse.
How to prepare before traveling to Pakistan
- Get a credit card without foreign transaction fees. This can save you money on every transaction made abroad.
- Visa and Mastercard are universally accepted. Especially in large urban areas. Amex and Discover cards are not the best cards to have in Pakistan.
- Notify your bank before you travel. This will prevent your bank from blocking your card.
- Get your bank’s phone number. This is helpful to resolve credit-card-related issues.
- Get a backup card. This will make your life easier in case something happens to your primary card.
- Get some cash. You’ll need cash to fully enjoy Pakistan. If needed, make an ATM cash withdrawal.
In Pakistan, cash is king. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use your credit card. Visa and Mastercard are accepted in the large cities, but not by every merchant.
Make a cash withdrawal using a debit card if you need cash. For all other purchases, use a credit card without foreign transaction fees. You could also try a prepaid SIM card in Pakistan.
See more guides on using a credit card in other countries.