Bolivia and Credit Cards
  • My daughter if off to Bolivia soon and I have given her a credit card (in case of emergencies!) Does anyone know if Bolivia operates a chip and pin system or does the old fashioned signature still work there? She also intends to travel to both Brazil and Argentina and I would like to know what system operates in these countries as well.

    Many thanks

    Pf
  • Hi There,

    The signature system is still the main system used for credit cards, this is also the case for Brazil and Argentina.

    There may be larger stores / hotels in Brazil and Argentina that have facilities to use the pin / chip system, however these would be few and far between - and probably in large expensive hotel chains like the Hilton for example. I wouldn't expect anywhere to use this method in Bolivia.

    I hope that helps!
    Kris
  • Do you know anything about debit cards? My son is travelling to Bolivia this week as well. I want him to be able to make withdrawals at a bank or ATM using a debit card. Is this possible? What kind of card does he need?
  • I was in Bolivia this past January for a month. It is very hard to find ATM's and when you do they most likely don't have money. Unfortunately this causes you to carry a lot of money on you. So tuck it in your most personal parts, no joke. I know for a fact in Copacabana which is near the Peruvian border, they do not have an ATM, nor do they have very many places that accept cards. You cannot use banks to pull money out either, they are only for nationals. La Paz was definitely more manageable as it is the largest city. Further south, you will have one or two for each city. The buses are the worst in South America and the most crime. When we fell asleep we would wrap ourselves tight in a blanket with our personal backpacks underneath. Someone stole a little bag I had with food in it, 5 min after I was on the bus. I literally sat down, got situated, looked up and it was gone. Everyone on the bus played dumb when I asked what happened. You also have to watch your big pack underneath. When you get close to the border, a lot of bolivians are transporting huge amount of stuff to be sold in Argentina. They will take your backpack out and throw it on the ground to make room for their stuff. My boyfriend was out there fighting with these little old ladies until the minute the bus took off. The country is beautiful and has a lot to offer but was for sure the one we had to keeps our eyes open...

    Argentina loves your credit cards...especially in Buenos Aires. However, most places give you a discount if you pay in cash and an even better one if you pay in USD. Usually the store or restaurant can direct you to the closest ATM. But always ask what the discount is if you pay "en effectivo". Some larger banks like citibank ATM's will give you dollars. You are fine with pesos and most of the time better off as sometimes smaller business will not give you a fair exchange rate. If you are planning to buy something that is expensive or a big meal or long stay at a hostel, ask for the discount. example, my boyfriend bought a really nice wool jacket. original price 590 pesos with ccard ($143), 430 pesos paid with pesos ($104), 350 pesos when paid in dollars ($87.50) Never hurts to ask :)

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