At COCONUT LODGE, we make it a point to help you plan your stay in Panama and give you as many insider tips as possible. A few issues regarding Credit Cards and Panama have recently come to our attention. We hope this article will help dispel your doubts.
When coming to Panama:
1) NOTIFY YOUR BANK
This may seem like a given, but in today’s busy World, we have seen many travelers distraught over blocked credit cards. When your card is registered in one country and is then used subsequently in another country, your bank assumes it has been used fraudulently and will sometimes block your credit card, in an effort to prevent theft. This, in itself, is actually a very good safety mesure… except when you are the one using your card. Before leaving, let your bank know where you will be and for how long. It will avoid you a headache during your holiday!
2) PLAN TO HAVE SUFFICIENT CASH FOR THE FIRST FEW DAYS
In Panama, banks ask companies for a minimum of $5,000 credit card transactions before they give them a point of sale, or credit card terminal. Needless to say, very few small structures make the cut. Ask your service provider (bed and breakfast, tour operator, transportation company) if they accept credit cards before you book. At COCONUT LODGE, payments are to be made in cash, through PAYPAL (online) or by International Bank Transfer, through an Intermediary Bank.
You should carry enough cash to get you through the first few days... this will give you some flexibility in case of credit card problems. Also, in Panama, you will need the approval of a store manager when paying with $50 and $100 bills. They are accepted in most stores, but inspected. Just a head's up.
3) IF YOU MUST USE A CARD, MAKE IT VISA OR MASTERCARD
Although American Express (Amex) has great Reward Programs for their users, their credit rates are also higher. For this reason, many businesses do not accept Amex Cards. Visa and MasterCard are accepted where credit cards are accepted.
4) WHEN IN DOUBT…
Carry Cash, a second credit card and a backup Debit Card (you should be able to withdraw from your debit account using an ATM). You never know when you will need your back-up plan!
We hope that this facilitates your vacation planning to Panama City, Panama. Remember that at COCONUT LODGE, we are all about making your stay as pleasant (and easy) as possible!