San Salvador - Post Report Question and Answers

Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Yes, you can use credit cards almost anywhere. Some smaller local vendors are cash only, or else you can do bank transfers if you have a local bank account. - Oct 2023

Credit cards are widely-used. Most small-time delivery services (produce, our super-tiny batch yogurt producer) prefer cash, but it’s easy to use cards everywhere else. - Feb 2022

Yes, they are used often and I haven't heard of any issues. We use the ATM at embassy. - Aug 2021

Yes, yes and yes. - Jun 2018

Yes. We have had no problems. - Mar 2018

Credit cards are fine to use at most major retailers. They will bring the credit machine to the table and do the transaction in front of you. Most smaller businesses prefer cash. There is an ATM at the Embassy. Also, I’ve used the Scotiabank ATM down the street with zero issues. - Jan 2018

Yes and we have a tax-exempt card for the vendor to deduct your taxes at the till. - Nov 2017

My credit card was compromised several times so I stopped using it. There's an ATM at the Embassy but I'd be careful of using one outside. - Jul 2016

Skimming cards is common here; but many places have cracked down on this and credit cards are much safer to use. Cash is best (we only use the ATM and bank at the embassy). El Salvador is fully dollarized, though you will see the one-dollar coins here more than the bills. - Dec 2015

I use them. Always use caution. - Jun 2015

Credit cards are accepted everywhere. We've had no issue. - Mar 2015

You should not use credit cards in the gas stations and only use them when you can see the machine. Cloning is very common. Many people at the Embassy got their cards cloned; it was a nightmare. But, at the restaurants and Super Selectos markets, I used mine all the time with no problem. I never used them at the gas stations though. - Oct 2014

Do Not Use them. - Jul 2014

Visa/MC is widely accepted, but you will pay the associated foreign fees. Citibank is here, but has no connection to Citibank in the US. You will pay fees on any ATM transactions. Open a local bank account if you are here for any length of time at HSBC, Citi, or Banco Agricola. - Apr 2012

Be careful. - Jul 2011

We only use our cards where we can see them being swiped, i.e. at the grocery or hardware stores. We only pay with cash in restaurants, as there have been an overwhelming number of identity theft cases traced back to popular restaurants. You can get cash at the embassy or almost anywhere in the city once you know where to look. - May 2010

Credit card fraud is fairly high here. You can use your cards all over the place, but you should be careful and not use them at places where cashiers or waiters take your card out of sight. I haven't had any trouble finding an ATM that works with my bank account. El Salvador uses the U.S. dollar so there is no conversion to worry about. - Feb 2009

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