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Old 25-04-2007, 20:57   #1
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Cash, Credit Card, Bahamian Bank Card?

I just bought something from Canada and I was charged for the exchange rate and service charge. Planing a 6 month long cruise in the Bahamas I do not want the extra expense and do not want to carry that much cash.

What is the best (cheepest/safest) way to pay for your cruising in the Bahamas?

Cash?
USA Credit Card?
USA Debit Card?
Travelers Checks?
Personal USA Check?
Open a Bank Account in the Bahamas and use there card?

Thanks, Lynx
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Old 26-04-2007, 04:37   #2
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My opinion is that cash or travelers checks is always best, but we do use credit cards to conserve cash, get the miles for charging on the card, and pay it off every month so no fees. We have sometimes been able to pay with a US check, once it was for a fairly expensive marine repair, so don't leave your checkbook at home.

Haven't tried it, but a bank account in the Bahamas doesn't seem very convenient - many of the great anchorages aren't near a town, and if the banks are anything like Batelco, hours and services are inconvenient.

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Old 26-04-2007, 05:08   #3
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Offshore Banking?
While it may be theoretically possible for non-residents of the Bahamas to open a local bank account ~ as a cruiser, you are almost certain to find it practically impossible.
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Old 26-04-2007, 13:05   #4
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International transactions seem to have a new trend with Credit Card companies to add a service charge of a percentage plus the exchange rate. That gets bumped again with cash advances too. Each card company is different in how they do all these fees and then again an ATM machine can sometimes add yet another fee.

Your personal checks may be of no use at all but they could be cashed if someone wanted to accept one, but I doubt anyone would. Travelers Checks exchanged for local cash my yield the best total savings. Carrying large sums of cash seems like a poor idea.

Gord is correct you won't find a bank willing to open an account for you just so you can have a free checking account.

You might strike a bargain and carry some cash, have some travelers checks and notify your credit card company you are going away and when you will be gone. It is possible to have your card declined and have to call the company to clear the transaction. We have had to do that almost every time we have been outside the country and failed to notify them. It's good to have a few options and a backup. If you just need access to money it sure would be nice to have the card even if you have to pay extra fees later.
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Old 24-04-2009, 04:19   #5
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We have lived on three continents outside of the USA and have found our VISA debit card to be the best way to get local cash. They have recently added a $0.75 per withdrawal charge in addition to the exchange rate service charge. It is still better than a cash exchange or bank because the VISA exchange rate is better. Now we will be taking larger amounts each time we withdraw because of the $0.75 charge.
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Old 24-04-2009, 04:19   #6
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Bahamian currency pegged to the US dollar so there is no exchange rate.
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Old 24-04-2009, 05:57   #7
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Haven't tried it, but a bank account in the Bahamas doesn't seem very convenient - many of the great anchorages aren't near a town, and if the banks are anything like Batelco, hours and services are inconvenient.

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Old 19-05-2009, 15:05   #8
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We travel extensively and have also lived in the Bahamas for the last 6 years. We find the best way is a bank card. We get the interbank rate, which is as good as you can get. As an example, a couple of days ago AMEX was getting $1.54 for a Euro. The bank rate was $1.36, so it's a real saving. There are ATMs everywhere, including the most Bahamian islands. The only thing to keep in mind is that you get local currency. Forget about opening a Bahamian account. It's hard enough if you live there. For a visitor it would be almost impossible.

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Old 19-05-2009, 15:21   #9
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open a barkleys acct at home they have international branches in the islands....jt
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Old 19-05-2009, 15:28   #10
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As far as I know Barclays has sold their Bahamas business to First Caribbean. In any case, the ATMs are just like the US, VISA, Cirrus, etc. They cannot, by law, charge fees so having a branch of your bank doesn't matter.

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Old 19-05-2009, 15:40   #11
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Old 19-05-2009, 16:50   #12
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That Bank sign soooo typifies the Bahamas.... I once wanted to buy a cabinet hook in a hardware/marine store in the Bahamas. It would usually be about $6-7 in the US. The little store had 5 of them hanging on a peg... all dusty and dirty... been there a while due to the huge price I would imagine..... every time we walked past I went in to see if the price had changed.... nope. Finally I struck up a conversation with the owner (?), I mentioned that they might move more of the stuff that had evidently been there a long time if they lowered the price a little... their response was: "but then I would have to order more" ! Oh I love island logic......
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Old 20-05-2009, 02:13   #13
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Ten years ago we bought our winter retirement home in the Bahamas. Last year we finally gave up and are coming back to the US. At first it was "How exotic! We'll be living on island time". After a couple of years it was "How can they live like this". A couple more and it was "He didn't show up again?". Finally, when I found myself screaming at the guy who took 16 months to repair our roof we decided it was time to sell out and come home. I learned to hate the phrases "He just stepped out for a minute" and "We nawmally carry dot but we out of stock right now". When you can find something it's outrageously expensive. The gas shutoff valve for my little 3.3 HP is less than $10 here. Wonder of wonders, the marine store had one. $38! The tile for our roof was $1038 in Florida. By the time it landed in front of our house it was $4000.

I'll miss the beautiful water and the wonderful people. By all means go. Bring everything you might possibly need. Enjoy the beauty. Come home. It's a great place to visit but you really don't want to live there.

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Old 20-05-2009, 03:23   #14
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ATM's are everywhere and that is by far the best option. Just be sure to notify your bank before you leave. The hold time on the phone can be unbelieveable, and I would hate paying international phone rates versus a free call.

Don't even consider opening a bank account in the Bahamas. It is ridiculously difficult and not worth the effort. You will need a letter of reference from your bank and checks from an USA account. Only citizens and permanent residents can have an account in Bahamian dollars. Otherwise, the account is an US account. With the US accounts, only checks are accepted -- not even cash is accepted for deposit. Even Bahamian checks are not accepted for deposit.

I have permanent residency status, and I have been fighting this checking thing for about 6 months. I finally took almost all of money out of the local bank and sent it back to the US. I use ATMs and pay the fee.
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Old 20-05-2009, 09:46   #15
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We're finishing up two months in the Bahamas - cruised through the Exumas, Eleuthera and now in GTC Abacos waiting for the weather to break before heading home to CF. We've used credit more than cash, usually for "big" stuff like marinas, sitting on a mooring in Waderick waiting out weather, fuel and ... a mascerator in Nassau! However every time we use credit we are being charged a few % by our credit card company and, in some cases, a few % in the Bahamas for using it (GT Club fuel dock). ATMs aren't everywhere but where they are they can be used and I was charged a 3% fee by Wachovia called "international fee". Seems like either way you pay a fee.

We loved cruising the Bahamas (great advice from AEGEA in Bimini - thanks for all your help) and will be back....but it definitely is costly.

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