Using a credit card in Jamaica | finder.com
Using a credit card in Jamaica

Using a credit card in Jamaica

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Plan ahead to avoid problems with purchases while traveling this Caribbean island.

Jamaica’s got it all — pristine beaches, lush green forests and picturesque mountains — making it a must-see for many Americans.

If you’re planning to play or work in this Caribbean nation, you can rest assured that most businesses in tourist areas accept credit cards. Though it never hurts to carry some cash, especially if you’re rambling into more remote areas.

Which credit cards are accepted in Jamaica?

Mastercard and Visa branded cards are widely accepted across this island nation. Most large hotels and shops accept American Express cards, but don’t count on your Diners Club or Discover cards.

If you’re looking for some souvenirs or local goods, cash is your best bet. Several small businesses and shops don’t accept credit cards at all.

ATMs in Jamaica

ATMs are easy to find in such big cities as Kingston, Montego Bay and Mandeville, as well as around popular resorts spread across the island. However, ATMs in Jamaica can be unreliable, so it’s best that you have a backup plan.

Muggings in Jamaica are common, so look for well-lit ATMs and those located within locked vestibules when taking out cash.

Magstripe and chip credit cards

As with most countries the world over, Jamaica is transitioning from magstripe cards to chip cards. If you have a magstripe card, you can use it with card readers designed to work with chip cards — you’ll just need to sign a receipt.

Because most chip cards come with magstripes at the back, you can often use your chip card with older card readers.

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

Using a chip-and-sign card in Jamaica shouldn’t be a problem. If a clerk is unsure about what to do with your card, suggest pressing the Enter button if it requests a PIN.

What if I don’t have a chip card at all?

Chip cards offer more secure than magstripe cards. Credit card skimming and cloning is common in Jamaica, so you might want to request a chip card from your bank or provider before your flight.

No-fee travel cards

When using most credit cards outside of the US, there’s a good chance you’ll pay foreign transaction fees of 2% to 3% of each transaction.

If you travel often — whether to Jamaica or elsewhere — consider applying for a travel card that comes with no foreign transaction fees.

Should I use my card to get cash?

You can use your credit card to get cash. But watch out for costly cash advance fees that’ll leave you on the hook for both a fee per transaction and immediate interest on your spending.

To avoid cash advance fees at an ATM, choose to use a debit card over a credit card when withdrawing money. Even though you’ll typically pay a withdrawal fee, most cards charge fees that are less expensive than cash advance fees and interest.

To avoid ATM fees altogether, look for cards that waive transaction fees internationally, like the debit card that comes with a Schwab High Yield Investor Checking Account.

Compare credit cards with no fee for foreign transactions

Updated August 21st, 2018
Name Product Currency Conversion Fee Annual Fee APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases
None
$195
16.74% variable
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
None
$0
14.74%, 18.74% or 24.74% variable
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. See Rates and Fees
None
$495
16.74% variable
Mastercard Black Card members receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
None
$995
16.74% variable
Earn points every time you spend. Luxury Card enhances your purchasing power by providing you with one (1) point for every one dollar ($1) you spend. Every purchase gets you closer to the rewards you want.
None
$0 annual fee for the first year ( thereafter)
16.74%, 22.49% or 25.49% variable
Get 4 points back on dining, 3 on travel, 2 on Uber rides and online shopping and 1 on other purchases, and redeem points for Uber credits, gift cards or cash back.
None
$0
16.74% to 24.74% variable
20,000 online bonus points offer. Ditch the restrictions of typical airline rewards cards. Any airline, any hotel, anytime. No blackout dates.
None
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
14.74%, 21.24% or 24.74% variable
Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
None
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.74% to 24.74% variable
Earn 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of your account opening, and an additional 30,000 points when you spend a total of $30,000 on purchases within the first year of your account opening.
None
$95
17.74% to 24.74% variable
Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
None
$450
17.74% to 24.74% variable
Earn 50,000 BONUS POINTS after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening* — that's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
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.
None
$450
17.74% to 24.74% variable
Enjoy United Club membership, Premier Access® travel services, free checked bags, plus earn miles on every purchase.
None
$75
16.74% to 24.74% variable
Buy one ticket, get one for just the taxes and fees ($0 fare plus taxes and fees from just $22) after you make $1,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening. There are no blackout dates.
None
$195
17.49% to 26.49% variable
Earn 70,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles(MQMs) after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.

Compare up to 4 providers

Is it safe to use my card in Jamaica?

Using a card in Jamaica comes with its share of risks.

To be most careful when taking out money, follow these three easy tips:

  • Safeguard your PIN.
    When entering your PIN at a hotel, grocery or restaurant, use one hand to hide the numbers from cameras and prying eyes. And never share your PIN with anyone.
  • Safety first.
    Avoid using ATMs in isolated or dimly lit areas. Even when you’re using a well-used ATM, try to limit withdrawals to the daytime only. And if you’re withdrawing a large amount, consider taking someone along with you.
  • Watch out for skimmers.
    Credit and debit card skimming is a concern in Jamaica. If something appears amiss or suspicious, go with your gut. Cancel your transaction, and look for another ATM instead.

Tips on keeping safe in general

Jamaica’s crime rates are high, especially around specific areas of Kingston and Montego Bay. With credit card fraud especially common, remain vigilant even when using your card at stores and supermarkets.

Don’t display overt signs of wealth or venture into isolated areas or desolate beaches. You could become a target of thieves.

General areas in Kingston that tourists report avoiding include Tivoli Gardens, Cassava Piece, Arnett Gardens, Mountain View and Trench Town. In Montego Bay, you’re better off avoiding Hart Street, Clavers Street, Norwood, Mount Salem, Flankers, Canterbury and Rose Heights.

How should I prepare for my trip to Jamaica?

Before you take off for your trip to Jamaica, prepare to avoid any potential problems with purchases or your credit card.

  • Look for a card with no foreign transaction fees.
    If you have the time, you’ll find many cards that forgo foreign transaction fees. A few options include the Marriott Rewards® Premier credit card, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card and Venture® from Capital One®.
  • Go with Visa or Mastercard.
    If businesses in Jamaica accept cards, there’s a good chance you’re limited to Visa or Mastercard. While a few accept American Express, you’ll have a hard time finding those who take Diners Club or Discover.
  • Call your card provider.
    Banks will temporarily block cards if they detect unusual activity, and an unexpected transaction from Jamaica could alert a block. Getting your card unblocked can be a hassle, so be sure to contact your credit card company before you travel overseas.
  • Keep important phone numbers close.
    You never know when you might need to report a lost or stolen card. Pack a list of a numbers to call in a pinch.
  • Know where you’ll get cash.
    You can use your debit card to withdraw money from an ATM or convert US dollars at any number of banks or a currency exchange centers. Research a few near your hotel for easy cash when you need it.

Planning in advance is the best way to have safe access to your money when you need it.

US currency in Jamaica

Many businesses in Jamaica accept payment in US dollars and Jamaican dollars. However, any business that doesn’t target tourists may limit currency to the Jamaican dollar.

Local businesses decide their own exchange rates, often favorable to them and more expensive for you. Save money by exchanging your US dollars at forex service or tourist bureaus.

And bear in mind that even though you can easily use US dollars, hardly anyone accepts American coins.

Compare credit cards

Updated August 21st, 2018
Name Product APR for Purchases (Purchase Rate) Intro APR for Balance Transfer Annual Fee
14.74%, 18.74% or 24.74% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.74%, 18.74% or 24.74% variable)
$0
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. See Rates and Fees
12.74%, 16.74% or 20.74% variable
0% for the first 18 months from account opening (then 12.74%, 16.74% or 20.74% variable)
$0
An 18-month 0% Intro APR period on both purchases and balance transfers, plus zero foreign transaction fees, makes this is a strong well-rounded card. See Rates and Fees
16.74% variable
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 16.74% variable)
$495
Mastercard Black Card members receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
16.74% variable
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 16.74% variable)
$195
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
16.74% variable
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 16.74% variable)
$995
Earn points every time you spend. Luxury Card enhances your purchasing power by providing you with one (1) point for every one dollar ($1) you spend. Every purchase gets you closer to the rewards you want.
24.74% variable
$39
Designed to help build credit history with no deposit required and access to benefits.
23.9% variable
$75 annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
With this card you get a 23.9% Variable APR.
19.74% to 25.74% variable
$0 to $99
Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases including gas, groceries, and services such as mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV, terms apply.
14.74% to 25.74% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.74% to 25.74% variable)
$0
Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
14.99% to 24.99% variable
0% for the first 12 statement closing dates (then 14.99% to 24.99% variable)
$0
Earn more cash back for the things you buy most.
14.74% to 25.74% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.74% to 25.74% variable)
$0
Earn $200 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive the $200 back in the form of a statement credit.
17.74% to 24.74% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of your account opening, and an additional 30,000 points when you spend a total of $30,000 on purchases within the first year of your account opening.
17.74% to 24.74% variable
$450
Earn 50,000 BONUS POINTS after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening* — that's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
14.74% to 24.74% variable
0% for the first 12 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
$95
15,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account
16.74% to 25.49% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 16.74% to 25.49% variable)
$0
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic. No minimum to redeem for cash back.
17.74% to 24.74% variable
$95
Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
14.74%, 20.74% or 24.74% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.74%, 20.74% or 24.74% variable)
$0
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
16.74% to 25.49% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 16.74% to 25.49% variable)
$0
Earn 5% Cash back in bonus categories up to $1,500 every quarter. Earn 1% Cash back on all other purchases.
16.74% to 24.74% variable
$0
20,000 online bonus points offer. Ditch the restrictions of typical airline rewards cards. Any airline, any hotel, anytime. No blackout dates.
16.74% to 25.49% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 16.74% to 25.49% variable)
$0
Jumpstart your financial fitness! 60 day introductory balance transfer offer, save on interest, and get your free monthly credit score.
14.74%, 21.24% or 24.74% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

Compare up to 4 providers

Frequently asked questions

Adrienne Fuller

Adrienne Fuller leads the publishing team at finder.com. She has one goal: to deliver the accurate and transparent information she wishes she had when she made some of life's important financial decisions. When she's not helping folks save money, she's hiking with her two Catahoulas around her home in San Diego.

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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    MichaelaJanuary 22, 2018

    I will be travelling to Jamaica and need a prepaid Visa or MasterCard. How much can I use daily?

    • finder Customer Care
      RenchJanuary 23, 2018Staff

      Hi Michaela,

      Thanks for your inquiry. Please note that we are not affiliated with any company we feature on our site and so we can only offer you general advice.

      You may also want to consider getting a prepaid travel money card for you to use in Jamaica. You can get useful information on this page and compare your options.

      You may click the name of your preferred card to know more details and you may click the green “Go to site” button to submit an online application through their official site.

      Hope this helps.

      Best regards,
      Rench

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
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Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card

APR

23.9
variable

Annual fee

75 For the first year
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