Nairobi - 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, credit cards are widely accepted but mPesa (mobile money transfer) is even more ubiquitous. Every vendo takes MPesa, and it’s super convenient to set up through Safaricom. Once it’s set up, you don’t really need to carry cash for anything. I would used credit cards for big purchases or grocery store runs but MPesa for almost everything else, to include paying household staff and my internet bill. - Aug 2023

Yes. Some places only accept cash or Mpesa. - Mar 2022

Yes to both....but people use Mpesa most of the time. It's mobile money on your phone. It's safe and easy. A lot of people (house help, drivers, delivery, etc.) prefer it to cash. - Aug 2021

Fairly widely accepted and safe to use, but I limited my use to big hotels and nice restaurants to limit the risk. ATMs are common, they are generally safe, but be careful about being seen to take out lots of cash and then walk into a dark/quiet area - I have heard of people getting robbed. - Apr 2021

Yes. - Nov 2020

Yes, all restaurants in our area accept them and have not had one problem at all. I do not use local ATMs as I don't have a need to do so. - Dec 2018

We use credit cards at the more well-known or high-end establishments. Your Carrefours, your Art Caffes, places like that, but we'd always have some Kenyan shillings on us, as it is the preferred method of payment. - Dec 2018

In most malls and restaurants you can use a credit card. However, there are sometimes issues with the machines so it is always great to have mpesa on your phone or cash. As for ATMs, there are only certain ones that I use as some are not reliable. - Jun 2018

Credit cards are widely accepted, though safety is variable. I wouldn't use a local ATM. - Jul 2016

Well - it is a risk using international credit or debit cards. - Sep 2015

We use the ATM at malls where there are armed guards and haven't had any problems. We always have the server bring the credit card machine to the table and it is common practice. Never had any problems of being overcharged. Most large stores take credit cards, but sometimes their machine's network is down, so having cash is helpful. - Aug 2015

DO NOT USE THEM AT ALL except when charging a lump sum for trips (to a game drive operator, etc.) and for paying hotel bills. ATMS are frequently rigged with skimmers and we hear even major banks are in on it. Cash checks at the Embassy for cash. Best deal of all is Mpesa, where you deposit money at a branch and it is instantly available for transferring, paying people or bills, through your cell phone. Very safe and everybody takes Mpesa. Nobody has bank accounts. - Jul 2015

Credit/Debit cards are taken at most locations. I do recommend using them. If possible cash checks at the Embassy or use the ATM at the Embassy for cash. You will need a VISA ATM card here. - May 2015

Easy but I would limit use of credit cards because of the risk of fraud. - Dec 2014

Avoid. Use cash. - Jun 2014

Write a check at the embassy for cash. Everything is cash based, I've never had a problem with ATMs, but there is a worry with mugging at ATM machines so I haven't used them much. - Jun 2014

ATMs are difficult - there have been reports of people having cards scammed, and some reports of people being followed from an ATM and robbed. We cash checks at the Embassy. We use our credit card at restaurants, hotels, and the grocery store and have had no issues. You always want to make sure that the person brings the machine to your table, however. - Mar 2014

I don't but many do. Many treat this place as a cash only post. - Jul 2013

Don't do it. It's not worth the risk of having $15,000 worth of airline tickets charged to your account. Yes, that happened to us. - Jun 2013

Many people don't use cards here because of high risk of fraud or identity theft, but I use my American ATM and credit cards regularly and have never had a problem. I usually take some cash out of the ATM every week, since cards aren't accepted everywhere. - Dec 2012

Don't. Their use is becoming increasingly common, but I wouldn't risk it. Skimming is common and so are power outages. The embassy has an ATM. Credit cards might be useful as backup, but I wouldn't plan on it. - Aug 2012

We use Barclay's or Standard Bank ATMs with no problems. I've used my credit card at Nakumatt in a pinch, but overall I would not use a credit card anywhere. - Dec 2011

I don't use the ATMs, though some people feel safe with Barclay's Bank ATMS. - Dec 2011

I used credit cards for eating out and shopping at the grocery store without any problems. - Sep 2011

They are usable at the shopping centers. There is always a risk in using them. - Dec 2010

Use the Barclay's ATM - we have never had a problem. - Dec 2009

I'm not crazy enough to use them here. I don't carry anything I don't want to give up. I don't wear my wedding ring (plain gold band) here, for example. - Jul 2009

Some places take credit cards. Credit card fraud is lower now than a few years ago but it happens. Use cash. ATMs are everywhere but go down due to network and communications issues. Don't carry plastic with you because when you get caught up in a robbery etc. they'll want to take you to ATMs to empty your accounts. Carry enough cash for your daily errands/events. Never more. - Jun 2008

ATMs abound, but many are Visa-only. This has been slowly changing – it was only Barclays that accepted MasterCard ATMs when we first arrived. We would reserve credit card use to major hotels and restaurants. - Feb 2008

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