Using Credit 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 guest houses and hotels, or paying for activities, cash is the most common-accepted payment method in Tonga. However, there are some accommodations, restaurants and retail shops that accept credit card, so for those times, we go over credit card use in Tonga in this guide. Find out where you can use credit cards and what are the typical credit card charges.
Tips for Using Credit Cards in Tonga
- Always have cash available, as credit cards are not accepted by most outlets 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 Tonga businesses
- ATMs are only available in Nuku’alofa (Tongatapu), Neiafu (Vava’u), Pangain (Ha’apai) and ‘Ohonua (‘Eua)
- 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 10 Ways to Save Money When Travelling in Tonga.
Which Credit Cards are Accepted in Tonga?
Certain types of credit cards are accepted in Tonga, including major brands. Credit cards that are accepted in Tonga include:
Fewer outlets may also accept:
- American Express
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 200 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 guest houses, food outlets, tour operators, 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, supermarkets and restaurants, especially in Nuku’alofa and Neiafu. 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 are available in the main towns of Tongatapu, Vava’u, Ha’apai and ‘Eua 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
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.
Because of these additional fees combined with the fact that not all outlets accept credit card, many travellers to Tonga consider using an alternative payment method. See What is the Best Payment Method in Tonga? for more advice. Plus, check out more tips in the 10 Tips for Travelling Tonga on a Budget.