Stonegate Bank Issues First U.S. Credit Card for Use in Cuba
Florida-based Stonegate Bank has launched the first American credit card intended for use in Cuba. Most Americans who travel to Cuba for work or pleasure have to bring cash with them to cover their expenses because of the way the country has cut itself off from the United States financial network. This card could dramatically improve the way American citizens shop, eat, and spend money while in Cuba.
The artwork for the card was produced by a celebrated Cuban artist, Michel Mirabal.
Currently, the MasterCard is only usable at state-run and private businesses that use point of sale devices. There are reportedly 10,000 POS devices in Cuba, but many local business owners say their machines are out of service. Cardholders will not be able to get cash advances from their credit card, but they can still pay for transactions anywhere the card is accepted.
A trade embargo between Cuba and the United States has prevented nearly all American financial institutions from doing business with Cuban companies over the last 50+ years, but recent exemptions set forth by the Obama Administration have made it possible for banks to set up direct links to Cuban banks for payment processing. Stonegate was the first bank to create a U.S. debit card for use in Cuba, which followed the same basic restrictions imposed on the credit card.
Currency transfer fees in Cuba approach 10%, meaning that Americans converting their money to Cuban currency must pay ten cents on the dollar in order to get funds for purchases. The credit card and debit card from Stonegate Bank are exempted from this fee, making them the most affordable option for Americans who need to use money in Cuba.