Now to find a vendor who can take it.
While airlines and cruises are making it easier for Americans to get to Cuba, travelers still face limitations once there, especially when it comes to financial transactions. Good news arrived this week, however, when a small Florida-based bank announced the first credit card that will work on the island.
Stonegate Bank, which began offering debit cards for use in Cuba last fall, is the first U.S. bank to supply credit cards. The new, less strict rules implemented by President Barack Obama allow for such financial transactions. Both MasterCard and American Express said last year that they wouldn’t block transactions made in Cuba on their cards, but until yesterday no American bank would allow it.
“This has been a work in progress over the last nine months,” said Dave Seleski, president and chief executive of Stonegate. “Hopefully, more U.S. banks will allow their customers to use their cards in Cuba, thus helping to alleviate the burden on travelers to the island.”
Without an approved credit card, Americans have to travel with cash or get a credit card issued from another country. Though this new piece of plastic will make it easier to charge bills in Cuba, there is still the matter of finding a vendor that can accept it. Many point-of-sale devices in state-owned businesses are not in service, CNBC reported.
American travelers still have to qualify within the 12 categories of travel that the U.S. government permits, and tourism for leisure is still technically prohibited.
The cards available are World or World Elite Mastercards offer a zero percent introductory interest rate for one year and after that a 13.5 or 14.5 percent annual rate, and no annual fee for the card.
Stonegate is issuing 1,000 special-edition cards, featuring an artistic depiction of the Cuban flag.