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Old 03-11-2015, 10:23   #1
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Bahamas- Credit Cards and ATMs

To reduce the amount of cash we need to travel with, I wondering how useful our credit card will be in purchasing groceries and gas (not restaurants or tourist shops or marinas). Specifically outside of Nassau, Freeport, Marsh Harbor.

Also, outside of main ports, will I have trouble finding ATMs (in Exumas, for example).

I have a CC with no foreign transaction fee so I'd prefer the convenience of using that instead of cash for everything.
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Old 03-11-2015, 10:47   #2
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Re: Bahamas- Credit Cards and ATMs

I found that in the Abacos, we could use our CC just about everywhere. We ended up using only a fraction of the cash we brought.

The islands of the Abacos are so close that between Pete's Pub and "The whale" it's easy to find places to "fill in the grocery blanks" using your credit card. After you go through the whale you can still go to a few places to find grocery stores but usually by then we plan on eating our stores.
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Old 03-11-2015, 10:57   #3
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Smile Re: Bahamas- Credit Cards and ATMs

Quote:
Originally Posted by nknowland View Post
To reduce the amount of cash we need to travel with, I wondering how useful our credit card will be in purchasing groceries and gas (not restaurants or tourist shops or marinas). Specifically outside of Nassau, Freeport, Marsh Harbor.

Also, outside of main ports, will I have trouble finding ATMs (in Exumas, for example).

I have a CC with no foreign transaction fee so I'd prefer the convenience of using that instead of cash for everything.
===

Most marinas and restaurants have no problem with accepting Master Card or Visa. American Express has fallen out of favor due to high merchant fees. ATMs are not as common but there are a few. You'll definitely need cash for customs and immigration fees, no exceptions.

The biggest problems we've had with credit cards is being tripped up by the bank's fraud alert systems and having a purchase declined. This happens even though we notify all of our card companies before leaving home. It always gets cleared up after a call to customer service but it's definitely a nuisance issue. The only solution is to carry several different cards from different banks.

Our answer to the cash problem is to bring a substantial amount and split it up among two or three different hiding places. I recently found $500 in a place that I'd totally forgotten about.
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Old 03-11-2015, 11:16   #4
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Re: Bahamas- Credit Cards and ATMs

Cash is your best bet, especially if you intend to go off the beaten path. Credit card companies have a bad habit declining purchases just when you need them the most. One of my cards got compromised once and it took over a month to get a replacement. The card company used one courier service and their service ended at Nassau with no forwarding to GT where I was. Try talking to the credit card company at $1 a minute and being put on hold! 800 numbers are blocked in the Bahamas. Take cash.
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Old 03-11-2015, 11:40   #5
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Re: Bahamas- Credit Cards and ATMs

I did not see an ATM between Nassau and George Town. All marinas, fuel docks, grocery stores, and restaurants/bars would take Visa. A few places require you to pay with credit card.
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Old 03-11-2015, 13:15   #6
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Re: Bahamas- Credit Cards and ATMs

I have never been to Nassau so I can't comment about that. In the Exumas, Long Island, and Cat Island, ATMs are in the banks. Not sure about most of Eluthera but I did not see an ATM in Spanish wells other than at a Bank. That was two years ago so things may have changed.

There is usually a surcharge if you use a credit card.
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Old 03-11-2015, 14:51   #7
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Re: Bahamas- Credit Cards and ATMs

No Discover card


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Old 03-11-2015, 15:22   #8
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Re: Bahamas- Credit Cards and ATMs

I think this is a great checking account (Visa plus FDIC insured) for world travelers. No foreign transaction fees and they reimburse all atm charges. I can't remember where I got the info from but here it is. It's a nice mix between cash and card.

"There are a few banks that have accounts that allow you to withdraw money in a foreign country free of charge, and then they REFUND the fees charged by the foreign bank for using the ATM. Charles Schwab is one of them:

Online Checking Account with Free Checks and ATM Fee Rebates | Schwab Bank

They don't bone you on the exchange rate either. Schwab uses the exchange rate that is set by VISA each day, which is only a fraction above the actual exchange rate. See here:

http://usa.visa.com/personal/card-be...calculator.jsp

There are some details you should be aware of: You have to open the account while you are a US resident, and you have to have a US address on file with the bank. So hopefully a friend/family member wouldn't mind you putting their address on your application if you're not living in the country. With Schwab you have to also open a brokerage account in order to open a checking account, but they don't put a minimum balance on it so throw in a dollar and call it a day. You can even send fee-free wire transfers from the brokerage account, and can transfer money for free between your checking account and the brokerage account. Most ATM's have a daily withdrawal limit, so if you want to buy a house in a foreign country (for example) you should still use a wire transfer for a large amount like that. But for 99% of your daily spending you can keep your money in dollars and pay essentially zero fees for using that money overseas. "
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Old 03-11-2015, 18:14   #9
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Re: Bahamas- Credit Cards and ATMs

In most of the Family Islands (outside of New Providence) including sometimes in Marsh Harbour, credit card terminals work only occasionally, if you can find a merchant who has one.
Be aware that to change back Bahamas currency to US etc you will need to show your airline ticket out of the country and if they have no dollars that day, you will be committing a crime by taking Bahamas dollars out of the country.
In Nassau there are a few US dollar ATMs and there is one in Marsh Harbour at First Caribbean. Was, anyway.
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Old 03-11-2015, 18:19   #10
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Re: Bahamas- Credit Cards and ATMs

There is a US Dollar ATM in George Town also.
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Old 03-11-2015, 18:54   #11
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Re: Bahamas- Credit Cards and ATMs

Usually there is a substantial fee tacked on to use a cc in the Bahamas. Not uncommon to save 4% by paying cash for your purchases.


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Old 04-11-2015, 12:28   #12
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Re: Bahamas- Credit Cards and ATMs

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Originally Posted by meridian28 View Post
No Discover card

I'm very happy to report that, at least in the Abacos, this is not the case any more.

Visa and MC are very widely accepted.

Many places do surcharge for CCs and your CC may do a foreign transaction charge as well.

We routinely ask for US dollar change when we are getting close to time to go, when we've used cash. We have yet to see a merchant do anything other than happily exhaust (if that's what it takes) his US paper.

Fortunately, nobody has inspected our wallet when we've left the country; typically there's some Bahamian money there (which we simply recycle when we get back); I have some doubt about the criminality of exporting casual cash.

But...

Many places do not surcharge, not all take Discover, your bank may not upcharge for currency translation, and you MAY find a snooty merchant who won't trade you for US dollars, let alone give change.

All that said, we have a substantial cash presence aboard as anything having to do with Customs and Immigration is cash only, and the smaller places and/or smaller purchases will require cash (many CC-accepting places have a minimum).

We can't wait to go back.

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Old 04-11-2015, 14:41   #13
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Re: Bahamas- Credit Cards and ATMs

We've never had a problem with CCs anywhere in the Bahamas. We always let the CC companies know that we will be there so they will expect to see charges.
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Old 04-11-2015, 15:26   #14
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Re: Bahamas- Credit Cards and ATMs

Nassau, Harbor Island, and Marsh Harbor we never had a problem with M/C and Visa. Both are excepted most places. Atm's are mostly Bahamian except in the Atlantis.
In Marsh Harbor there were some places that had machines which were out of order more frequently.
In most cases you just come back the next day and take care of it if you are staying there or moored there.
Never had a problem in Georgetown either.
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Old 04-11-2015, 16:03   #15
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Re: Bahamas- Credit Cards and ATMs

We found Visa accepted in most of the Exhumas though a 5 % surcharge was typical. CASH ONLY for entry.
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