Using a non-U.S. debit card

Can I use my Maestro debit card for purchases or in an ATM?


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While it's not likely you'll run into problems using your Maestro card -- that's a multi-national card service owned by MasterCard -- there are a few precautions you'll want to take before leaving for your trip to make extra-sure you don't get caught with only one means for payment and no way to make it work.

Make sure your debit card can also be used in regular ATM machines.
You may not be able to use your Maestro card in place of a regular credit card at every location, but it's very unlikely you will have any trouble using it to get cash from an automated machine. If this isn't how you usually use your card, give it a test run in England before leaving for Vegas.

Call your bank before leaving to let them know you'll be traveling and plan on using your card.
I learned this the hard way, with some moments of near-panic on the streets of Reykjavik, Iceland, when my ATM card wouldn't work anywhere. After returning home and calling my bank to find out if there was a problem, I learned I could have avoided the whole incident just by letting them know ahead of time I would be out of the country and accessing funds. Luckily I had some alternate means of paying for things, which leads to the next piece of advice...

Bring a couple of backup means of payment, just in case something unexpected happens.
If you contact your bank before leaving for the States and test your card at an ATM at home, it's extremely unlikely you'll run into any problems at all using it in Las Vegas. Just to be on the safe side, though, it's a good idea to bring along one or two major credit cards, like a Visa or MasterCard non-debit card, as an emergency backup. You may be hit with some higher transaction fees if you were forced to use one, but that's better that not being able to pay for anything.

Start your trip with two or three hundred U.S. dollars in cash.
Fees for currency exchanges at airports are notoriously high, but it's worth paying for peace of mind. With some cash in pocket from the very beginning, you know you won't have any problems getting food, paying for cabs or anything of that sort. You may not need it at all, but a cushion of a couple of hundred bucks means no worries to start your trip.

2 responses to “Using a non-U.S. debit card”

  1. malcolm said:

    Quite agree about the need for ready cash when one arrives fresh off the plane in a foreign country.
    In Europe its Euros but in the USA I take $100 in $1 bills. Handy for small purchases and tips plus another $100 in $10 bills for anything larger, but mostly we just use the good old Visa card.

  2. j.byrne said:

    I used my Maestro card in Florida last summer without a problem. A transaction ( ATM) will cost 2.50us

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