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View Full Version : Shopping in St Maarten- debit card ok?


scottie
01-16-2009, 12:56 PM
I believe my DW and MIL will do a decent bit of shopping while in St Maarten. Should they expect to encounter any issues with using a bank debit card for purchases, such as unwillingness to accept, extra fees from store or bank, etc? I know street vendors would be a cash deal but I am thinking more of the established stores I guess.

jilljill
01-16-2009, 01:04 PM
Check with your bank on the extra fees. Also, when using your card out of your 'normal' area of use it's always a good idea to call your bank and let them know when/where you will be traveling.
Does the debit card have the Visa/MasterCard logo on it? If so then they should use it as a credit card rather than a debit card where you have to input your pin on a keypad.
I would be more comfortable using a true credit card rather than debit card.

scottie
01-16-2009, 01:08 PM
:) Check with your bank on the extra fees. Also, when using your card out of your 'normal' area of use it's always a good idea to call your bank and let them know when/where you will be traveling.
Does the debit card have the Visa/MasterCard logo on it? If so then they should use it as a credit card rather than a debit card where you have to input your pin on a keypad.
I would be more comfortable using a true credit card rather than debit card.

Yep a MasterCard Debit card, and it will be used as a signature card for sure and they won’t enter a pin code. I will check with the bank on that and update them before the cruise. I think DW was more worried a store wouldn’t accept it or charge some type of additional fee.

kcashner
01-16-2009, 01:10 PM
It's not a problem at all in the major stores....the little stalls won't take plastic in some cases.

As above, notify your bank of the days you'll be out of the country and they'll note it on your account. Otherwise, getting approval can be a pain.

tvguy
01-16-2009, 03:47 PM
First thing I would do is go to my banks website and read up the FAQ section about debit cards.
First, most of us have a far far higher credit limit on our credit cards, than we have deposited in the account linked to our debit cards. That can be an issue if you make purchases at stores that put a hold on your funds in excess of your purchase. They do that without your knowledge. I just ran into that this week here at home. I had a gas station accidentially put a $150 hold on funds on my debit card....and I only had $151.80 in the account (thank god today is payday). Because I complained, the bank reduced the normal 7 day hold time frame to 4 days. As the bank point out, they did this as a courtesy because I was a "valued" customer. They normally don't waive a 7 day hold. That could cause big problems.
Second, the consumer protections on a debit card are usually far far less than on a credit card. If there is an issue with that expensive jewelry you bought, your credit card company will go to bat for you. Few debit card companies will do that.
Third, there may be daily spending limits on a debit card, or daily limits on how much cash you can get. My cousin ran into that during a trip to Disneyland. Have you ever tried to feed a family of 6 at Disneyland on $100 a day? With no credits cards, no cash, no travelers checks, just a debit card?
So my first advice is do some research. As for me, I wouldn't use a debit card on a trip. In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn't even START using my debit card for anything other than taking cash out of the ATM until 6 months ago. If I had continued to pay cash for gas I would not have had the problem I had. And I like the day or two float a check allows me at the grocery store.

JD&LYD
01-16-2009, 05:18 PM
I woudn't use a debit card. Unsavory characters can get more information off of a debit card than a credit card. Some scary stories on these boards and others about accounts being drained before you get back Canaveral. Use a credit card and notify your bank before you leave, ask what protections they have.

scottie
01-16-2009, 08:45 PM
Thank you for everyones info/suggestions. As a family, we do not use credit cards so we will be using cash and debit card while on vacation. We will use cash most of the time but I imagine we could end up making a large purchase we may not have the cash on hand for so I wanted to figure out the ins and outs of the use of a debit card out of the US, in St Maarten.

tvguy
01-18-2009, 01:07 PM
Congrats if you can survive without at least one credit card.
With one kid away at college, and the second starting in the fall, too many emergencies come up between pay days, where there is little or no money in the account linked to the debit card, I have no choice but to have a credit card. If you have younger kids, just wait until they get older and you get the "laptop computer died and we need a new one today" call. (I admit I'm cheap, but I actually thought a laptop should last longer than 7 years, my entire family, including the cat, apparently disagree)pirate:
It's handy for vacations since I often end up renting a car, and I've never found a rental car company that would take a debit card.