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Debit and Credit Cards in Iceland: Essential Info


Debit and credit cards in Iceland

When coming to Iceland, credit card users often wonder if plastic can be used as a means of payment. Cash is always welcome, but are cards easily usable in places like gas stations? And what about car rental? There are many questions surrounding Iceland credit cards, so let’s tackle the most common ones to get you all clued-up for your Iceland vacation!

Iceland Credit Card Info: What You Need to Know

In Iceland, your credit card and debit card will be your best friends. You’ll be pleased to know that credit and debit cards are widely accepted in Iceland and, in fact, are the most common means of payment used in the country. So, where can you pay with credit or debit card in Iceland and which particular cards are accepted? Let’s find out and also learn some Iceland credit card top tips for your vacation.

Where Are Credit Cards Accepted in Iceland?

Icelanders use debit and credit cards to pay for pretty much everything; you can even use a credit card to buy your bus ticket or to get a hot dog at the famous Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur stand in downtown Reykjavik.

Many tourists go cash-free when visiting Iceland, so, if you don’t want to deal with exchange rates or currency exchange offices, you can simply pay with your card.

In Iceland, credit cards are accepted as a universal means of payment and are actually the preferred method. Icelanders use them anywhere and everywhere, and so can you!

Credit card Iceland

Can You Use a Debit or Credit Card in Iceland Gas Stations?

While contactless card payments are common throughout most of Iceland, it’s important to be aware that gas stations in Iceland often require a chip-and-PIN credit card. If you’ve heard about travelers having Iceland gas station credit card PIN problems, it’s most likely because they were unaware that they needed a chip-and-PIN card to get gas.

Some gas stations in Iceland’s rural areas are unattended and are, therefore, self-service. You will need either a debit card or a chip-and-PIN credit card to get gas here. Make sure to keep your PIN handy when taking road trips in Iceland!

Cash or Credit Card in Iceland?

You might be wondering ‘do I need cash in Iceland?’, which is an understandable question. While most of the island operates completely cashless, with cards being the most common method of payment across the island, you might like to have some cash with you during your trip to Iceland.

Cash can be useful if you’re planning to travel to any remote, rural destinations in Iceland. If you feel the need to carry a little bit of the local currency around with you, even just for visiting a small-town coffee shop or buying souvenirs in Iceland, that makes complete sense.

We recommend talking to your bank to see if they charge a fee to take out money at the ATM while traveling abroad. You can also order some Icelandic krona a few weeks before your trip so that you always have some on you.

This process usually takes a few days and maybe up to a couple of weeks, depending on your bank. They’ll withdraw money from your account and then contact you when you can come in to pick up your Icelandic krona currency.

You could also visit a currency exchange office in your home country to pick up your krona or order your krona online, depending on what’s most convenient for you.

Cash in iceland

What to Avoid When Using a Credit Card in Iceland

What else do you need to know about credit card use in Iceland? Here are some potential pitfalls to avoid, so you don’t end up with any surprises when using your credit or debit card in Iceland.

  • Currency conversion fees – When using a debit or credit card in Iceland, you may sometimes be asked if you want to pay in your home currency or in Icelandic krona. Always choose to pay in Icelandic krona because paying in your home currency will subject you to unfavorable currency conversion rates (which are different to the actual exchange rates). 

  • Foreign transaction fees – Make sure to check whether your bank charges foreign transaction fees. These are fees charged when you use your card outside of your home country. As these foreign transaction fees are charged each time you use your card to make a payment, they can easily add up.

  • Credit card ATM withdrawal fees – If you withdraw cash from an ATM using your credit card, you will most likely be charged lending fees as well as general transaction fees, making this an expensive choice.

  • Avoid getting your krona from airport currency exchange bureaus – Although this is a popular option for travelers, the exchange rates these bureaus offer are very bad and they usually charge a commission for their services on top of that. It’s definitely the worst thing you can do for your money, so we recommend steering clear.

  • Avoid credit cards without PINs, if possible – You might be used to just signing the receipt when you use your credit card in your home country. It’s not this way in Iceland; here you need to have a PIN. If you don’t know or remember your PIN, you can call your credit card company and have them mail you another one. This might take a few days or even a week, so give yourself plenty of time to receive the letter in the mail.

Pin Credit card, Iceland

The Best Credit Card to Use in Iceland

Cards are widely accepted almost everywhere on the island, so you shouldn’t have too many issues using your credit or debit card in Iceland. However, when it comes to using credit cards in Iceland, visitors often wonder what the best credit card to use in Iceland is, so here are our top recommendations.

By far the best credit card to use in Iceland is a card from one of the major credit card companies, like Visa or MasterCard. If you’re carrying one of these, you’ll almost certainly not have a problem.

Can You Use American Express in Iceland?

Keep in mind that American Express is not widely accepted in Iceland, so it’s good to have a different credit card with you when traveling to the island. Some luxury hotels and high-end restaurants may accept American Express but, in general, you won’t have much luck when trying to pay with Amex in Iceland.

Car Rental in Iceland Without a Credit Card

When researching car hire in Iceland with no credit card, it may be hard to find a straight answer. This is because it’s standard industry practice to take an imprint of the card as the guarantee on your rental. Due to the country’s unique terrain, driving in Iceland is unlike driving anywhere else, so car rental companies need to know that the cars in their fleet are protected.

It’s possible to rent a car in Iceland without a credit card; you just need to be willing to spend a little extra cash to do so. Your first option is to take out the full insurance package, which is usually called premium or platinum coverage and includes CDW, SDCW, GP, SAAP, and TP insurance.

These types of coverage will protect you against damage from crashes, as well as scratches and dents due to gravel. You’ll also have coverage against the sand and ash damage that you might encounter. This is especially prevalent along Iceland’s South Coast, where volcanic activity has caused there to be plenty of ash and sand, including potential ash storms and sandstorms that could damage your vehicle. Lastly, you’re also protected in the event of theft.

Car Rental Credit Card

The other route you can take is paying a deposit that’s equivalent to the insurance excess or deductible in the case of damage. Depending on your route, vehicle and length of your trip, one option may be better than the other. Price-wise, you’ll need to weigh your options to see which is a better fit for you. You can talk to your car rental company in Iceland to see what their policy is and find the best solution for you.

Using Debit and Credit Cards in Iceland For the Trip of a Lifetime!

We’re sure you’re pleased to know that it’s possible to use your debit and credit cards in Iceland. You can rest easy knowing that your debit card or credit card will be just fine, as long as you have your PIN with you.

Now you’re in the know, it’s time to start planning your dream Iceland vacation! You can have fun putting together your itinerary to see Iceland’s incredible glaciers, volcanoes, waterfalls and hot springs. All that’s left to do is to book your Iceland car rental and hit the road – exciting!