Wednesday, April 21, 2010

To use a credit card or not in Abuja

Everything I read before departure warned people not to use a credit card in Nigeria, due to the risk of fraud. But your only other option is to carry a huge wad of cash, which isn’t much easier. If you bring over $5,000, you have to declare it, which will give you extra hassles at the airport.

When I arrived, I saw credit card machines everywhere from my hotel to the small supermarkets. The Hilton had an entire row of ATMs from different banks.

I spoke with an expat who visits Nigeria frequently and who has paid for her stays at the Sheraton with a credit card without issue. A couple of tips she offered are:

• If using an ATM, aim for Standard Chartered, which are supposed to be safe
• Avoid ATMs that are on the street and unprotected
• Find out your cards anti-fraud policies. Keep an eye on transactions and notify your card if you see anything unusual
• You may want to contact your card ahead of time and let them know to expect a charge/charges from Nigeria. Otherwise, their security flags are likely to rise.
• While using a card to buy things within the country is easy, you may face difficulty in trying to purchase something online and have it shipped to Nigeria.

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