A Guide to Using Foreign Credit and Debit Cards in Tonga
Can you use credit cards in Tonga? The simple answer is not for most situations! Cash is king in Tonga. Whether it’s buying from the market, staying in most guesthouses and hotels, or paying for activities, cash is the most commonly accepted payment method in Tonga. On the other hand, some accommodations, restaurants and retail shops accept some credit cards, so for those times, we go over what type of bank cards can be used, where you can use them, and outline the surcharges in this complete guide to using credit and debit cards in Tonga.
5 Tips for Using Credit and Debit Cards in Tonga
- Always have cash available; most vendors do not accept credit cards in Tonga
- The most success you’ll have at using a credit card in Tonga is around Nuku’alofa, Neiafu and at major hotels and resorts
- Use credit cards as little as possible to save money on foreign currency services charged by your bank and surcharges by Tongan businesses
- ATMs are only available at Fua’amotu Airport and Nuku’alofa (Tongatapu), Neiafu (Vava’u) and Pangai (Ha’apai)
- Have small change available for taxis, buses and cafes that might not always have enough change for larger banknotes.
For more money-saving advice, see the 20 Ways to Save Money When Travelling in Tonga.
Which Credit Cards are Accepted in Tonga?
Certain types of credit and debit cards are accepted in Tonga, including major brands, as long as there is a four-digit PIN encoded.
Bank cards that are the most accepted in Tonga include:
Fewer outlets and ATMs may also accept:
- Cirrus Card
- BSP PacifiCard
- American Express
- Plus Card
However, there are some credit card brands that will not be accepted in Tonga. Avoid using credit cards from the following brands:
- Diners Club
Where Can You Use Credit Cards in Tonga?
In Tonga, there are currently around 700 EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale) outlets, otherwise known as electric payment systems where you can pay using a credit/debit card. However, considering there are 170 islands and five major island groups in Tonga, it’s not that much. Many of Tonga’s guesthouses, food outlets, tour operators, public transport, etc. only accept cash, so it’s a good idea to always be prepared to pay with cash.
Outlets accepting electronic payments are some retail shops, especially supermarkets. Restaurants, especially in Nuku’alofa and Neiafu, also tend to accept credit/debit card. Major hotels and some resorts all around Tonga also accept credit card. We recommend asking your chosen hotel/resort if they accept credit card if you intend to pay with this method.
ATMs in Tonga
ATMs are available in the main towns of Tongatapu, Vava’u and Ha’apai, as well as at Fua’amotu Airport (Tongatapu) where you can withdraw the local currency (Tongan Pa’anga) from your overseas bank account. However, be aware of ATM withdrawal fees in Tonga, which we go into more detail in the section below.
Credit Card Charges in Tonga
Seasoned travellers will know that the bank issuing your credit card often has a fee for a “foreign currency service” or something similar each time you make a transaction overseas. Check with your bank what the percentage is for using your credit card in Tonga. It’s usually a fee of 1-3% of the transaction in your home currency. This fee is often also applied when using an ATM in Tonga.
Another credit card fee you may experience in Tonga is a surcharge implemented by local businesses. Many businesses in Tonga apply a credit card fee of 4-5% on each transaction.
Additionally, a withdrawal fee is also applied when using an overseas credit card at an ATM in Tonga. The fee is usually around TOP$8-$15 per withdrawal, so it’s best to withdraw as much cash as you’re comfortable carrying.
Because of these additional fees combined with the fact that not all outlets accept credit or debit card, we recommend using alternative payment methods to pay your way around Tonga. See What is the Best Payment Method in Tonga? for more advice.
Frequently Asked Questions About Using Credit and Debit Cards in Tonga
Let’s take a look at the most asked questions about using foreign credit and debit cards in Tonga. You never know, your question might be answered!
Can You Use a Credit Card in Tonga?
You can sometimes use a credit card in Tonga, as long as it is issued by a mainstream payment network like Visa. For instance, you can use mainstream debit cards at some hotels, resorts, restaurants and supermarkets, as well as BSP ATMs. However, there are many instances in Tonga where you cannot use a credit card to make payments, such as some guesthouses, cafes, public transport, markets, tours and more.
Can I Use My Debit Card in Tonga?
You can sometimes use a debit card in Tonga, as long as it is issued by a mainstream payment network like Visa. For instance, you can use mainstream debit cards at some hotels, resorts, restaurants and supermarkets, as well as BSP ATMs. However, there are many instances in Tonga where you cannot use a debit card to make payments, such as some guesthouses, cafes, public transport, markets, tours and more.
Can I Use My ANZ Card in Tonga?
Considering ANZ bank cards use Visa as its payment network, anywhere in Tonga that accepts credit/debit cards will accept an ANZ card. However, many services in Tonga only accept cash or wired transfers.
Can I Use My Westpac Debit Card in Tonga?
You can use a Westpac debit card in Tonga anywhere where MasterCard payments are accepted, which includes some hotels, resorts, restaurants and supermarkets, as well as BSP ATMs. However, many services in Tonga only accept cash or wired transfers.
More About Using Your Credit or Debit Card in Tonga
That’s it for our guide to credit and debit cards in Tonga but is by no means the end of our advice! Check out the following guides for more advice on ways to pay:
- Tonga Tax & Tipping Guide for Travellers
- What is the Best Way to Pay in Tonga?
- The Best Place to Exchange Currency in Tonga
Finally, plan your budget for visiting Tonga with our Tonga Travel Budget: How Much Does a Trip to Tonga Cost?