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Old 15-08-2020, 08:40   #1
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Cash or credit card in the Bahamas

I am planning on spending some extended time in the Bahamas on a power boat. Obviously I don't want to bring too much cash because I'm not sure how safe that is. Most marinas seem to charge fees if you try and pay with credit cards. ATMs usually charge fees, but I have read in this forum that cards like the Schwab card don't charge any fees (although the local ATM would probably charge fees). When you are spending large amounts on fuel this stuff can add up:

1. ATM - probably going to pay local ATM fees and make several trips (fuel is expensive)
2. Cash - probably best, but not safe to carry large amounts of cash.
3. Credit Card - Most marinas charge a fee if you want to use your credit card.

I guess you could use Bahamas bank, but then you would have to get your cash there and pay conversion fees from USD to BD.

Anyone out there know the best way to do this? Thanks in advance.
Joel
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Old 15-08-2020, 08:48   #2
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Re: Cash or credit card in the Bahamas

UFGator,

There is no conversion fee from US to Bahama dollars. Most places in the Bahamas accept US dollars. I usually use cash for small purchases & tips but credit card for larger purchases such as fuel.

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Old 15-08-2020, 08:51   #3
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Re: Cash or credit card in the Bahamas

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Originally Posted by UFGator View Post
I am planning on spending some extended time in the Bahamas on a power boat. Obviously I don't want to bring too much cash because I'm not sure how safe that is. Most marinas seem to charge fees if you try and pay with credit cards. ATMs usually charge fees, but I have read in this forum that cards like the Schwab card don't charge any fees (although the local ATM would probably charge fees). When you are spending large amounts on fuel this stuff can add up:

1. ATM - probably going to pay local ATM fees and make several trips (fuel is expensive)
2. Cash - probably best, but not safe to carry large amounts of cash.
3. Credit Card - Most marinas charge a fee if you want to use your credit card.

I guess you could use Bahamas bank, but then you would have to get your cash there and pay conversion fees from USD to BD.

Anyone out there know the best way to do this? Thanks in advance.
Joel
Cash is always king? I think so. I'd use both though. large transactions with a CC. and keep enough cash hidden on the boat to hold you over till the next time you can make a withdrawal. I think The Bahamas are very safe. good people there that just want you to hand them money for a good/service. I'm not saying I'd walk around with 10k in my pocket, but I wouldn't do that in my hometown either. The Bahamas is the kind of place you can try to haggle on price and having US cash is all the better for that negotiation.

I have a few places on my boat I would be confident that someone could not find even if they were given 24 hours to search. I suspect I might lose an iPad or other electronics long before they would find my cash hiding spot.
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Old 15-08-2020, 08:54   #4
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Re: Cash or credit card in the Bahamas

Agree with both of you, but most marinas I have called have said that they charge 3% (or more) for using a credit card. Seems like this would add up to a lot when buying fuel.
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Old 15-08-2020, 09:27   #5
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Re: Cash or credit card in the Bahamas

having spent many years in the B'mas....I never once...not ever...felt unsafe anywhere..not on land...not on water...

my first trip there.....I was your typical nervous nellie...locked the boat when I left it...locked the dinghy to the dinghy dock, etc....

but I quickly learned....never locked or closed the boat after the first month ever again....it's not the USA.....

most anchored yachties will look out for each other....whether they know you or not....there is a 100% certainty that you will likely " buddy boat" with another yachtie....and become lifelong friends in the process.

even in Nassau, never had a problem, the out islands are friendly as all get out.....

it takes newbies a few weeks to chill out and adopt island life habits...you'll be jes' fine..
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Old 15-08-2020, 09:41   #6
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Re: Cash or credit card in the Bahamas

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having spent many years in the B'mas....I never once...not ever...felt unsafe anywhere..not on land...not on water...

my first trip there.....I was your typical nervous nellie...locked the boat when I left it...locked the dinghy to the dinghy dock, etc....

but I quickly learned....never locked or closed the boat after the first month ever again....it's not the USA.....

most anchored yachties will look out for each other....whether they know you or not....there is a 100% certainty that you will likely " buddy boat" with another yachtie....and become lifelong friends in the process.

even in Nassau, never had a problem, the out islands are friendly as all get out.....

it takes newbies a few weeks to chill out and adopt island life habits...you'll be jes' fine..
You are way off topic here. I have been to the Bahamas many times over the last 20 years and have visited every single island. This is not a safety thread. This is a finance thread.
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Old 15-08-2020, 09:41   #7
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Re: Cash or credit card in the Bahamas

The 2 times I went the last 4 years I used mostly credit card. I have a card from my credit union that doesn't charge a Bahamas->dollar exchange fee and it has 1.4% rewards. So for me the small extra amount it costs is barely anything in the big picture and I would prefer to use the credit card for expense tracking and to not worry about having cash. But if you look at what you would use the credit card on and figure it will be 4% more it doesn't really crash or effect the budget worth worrying about.


The only ATM I have used in the Bahamas was the 1 in Georgetown across from the grocery store. It would give you the cash in either US Dollar or Bahamas dollars. Since it is a flat fee to use I would only use if I was getting at least $500 out of it and that was the only place I was using cash a lot.
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Old 15-08-2020, 10:01   #8
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Re: Cash or credit card in the Bahamas

Obviously I don't want to bring too much cash because I'm not sure how safe that is.

I must have read that wrong....
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Old 15-08-2020, 10:51   #9
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Re: Cash or credit card in the Bahamas

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You are way off topic here. I have been to the Bahamas many times over the last 20 years and have visited every single island. This is not a safety thread. This is a finance thread.
you asked about safety of carrying cash in The Bahamas.
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Old 15-08-2020, 11:18   #10
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Re: Cash or credit card in the Bahamas

Actually, I can't say for Bahamas, haven't been there (can't float in too many places with our draft) but we gave up carrying cash in the 1980's when we discovered ATM's in foreign lands. Wow! they even take our local debit cards from the US.

Now, and for many many years, the only cash we have is what is in our wallets, usually less than $200 in US equivalent. Usually there is no extra fee for using the cards where we have been, but there are plenty of fees involved. Machine use fees, and foreign exchange fees. We try to find ATM's with an agreement with our bank in the US so that there are no machine fees, and some times no exchange fees. Still, I budget about $60 a month in banking fees. For us, a cost of cruising, and worth it for the convenience.

The only places where we could not use ATM's was in Nukalofa, Tonga, and Ache province, Sumatra, Indonesia. A bit awkward since we had zero cash on the boat. Wouldn't have mattered in Ache, they wouldn't take USD either. We quickly left.
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Old 15-08-2020, 11:50   #11
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Re: Cash or credit card in the Bahamas

I understand you reluctance to carrying large amounts of cash. It isn't always about someone stealing! It can be dropped or lost, both on shore or into the water. There are lots of possible scenarios. I rarely have carried cash over the last 20 years. Credit cards are just easier. If you lose your cc, it's a phone call and no cost incurred. Lost cash is gone.
That said, in the Bahamas we do carry a small amount of cash. This is mostly for the small family islands, buying lunch from one of the small roadside diner/shack. A few grocery or liquor stores also only take cash. Again, that's the small family islands.
Anywhere that sells larger quantities of fuel or stores will take credit and some add a credit card fee of 3 to 5 percent. Realistically they get charged that by the credit card company, so I have no problem paying it.
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Old 15-08-2020, 12:10   #12
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Re: Cash or credit card in the Bahamas

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Agree with both of you, but most marinas I have called have said that they charge 3% (or more) for using a credit card. Seems like this would add up to a lot when buying fuel.
They aren’t actually charging you, what they are doing is passing the cost of using a credit card back to you, credit cards charge the merchant up to as much as 3%, Amex is the highest, and almost no one will take Amex in the Bahamas because of it.

Even a lot of US gas stations have started charging two different rates for fuel, I’m sure you have seen that.
Also it’s not uncommon at all for banks to freak out when they get a charge from the Bahamas and or deny it, happened to me twice in two years, both times it was trying to get my Bahamian telephone number, and yes the bank had been notified that we would be in the Bahama’s
That’s when you say OK, no problem and pull out the cash and pay for it.
I carry a lot of cash, because you never know, but don’t often use it. By the way it’s not unusual for a credit card fee on groceries etc too. Sometimes if your in the family islands the credit card machines may be down, so you need cash or come back tomorrow and hope they are up.

Hasn’t happened to me yet, but think if you ran aground and some Bahamian worked to get you off, it’s not likely that they will take a Visa card, and you would want to pay them, so you pay cash.
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Old 15-08-2020, 13:36   #13
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Re: Cash or credit card in the Bahamas

just curious to know what happened to the "traveler's check"...remember those ??....when I first started cruising...I carried those....didn't have a credit card back in those days.....just " traveller's checks"...but havn't seen them in a while....
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Old 15-08-2020, 13:44   #14
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Re: Cash or credit card in the Bahamas

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just curious to know what happened to the "traveler's check"...remember those ??....when I first started cruising...I carried those....didn't have a credit card back in those days.....just " traveller's checks"...but havn't seen them in a while....
Thank goodness it's been over 30 years since I've had to think or deal with those!
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Old 15-08-2020, 13:49   #15
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Re: Cash or credit card in the Bahamas

yeah....American Express Traveler's Checks....the Visa Card of the day.....you're right...gotta be at least 30 years or more since I seen or used them....wonder if they are still around ??
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