When planning your Iceland trip, the logistics of how to pay for things will be a big concern. In Iceland are credit cards accepted? What about debit cards or cash? Can I do car rental in Iceland without a credit card? Most of the questions about using debit and credit cards in Iceland revolve around two main themes: car rentals and where they accept credit cards. Many travelers will turn to forums on sites like Tripadvisor LLC or Lonely Planet to search for answers. So we decided to clear up some confusion and create an Iceland credit card and debit card guide.
Does Iceland Accept Credit Cards?
To answer your question, yes! Absolutely! You’ll have no problem using your card in Iceland; they are not only widely accepted but in many places are the preferred method of payment. I always find the question “can I use my credit card in Iceland” funny. It sounds like we are some backward country that still uses a barter system.
We use geothermal energy to power some of our cities, so of course Iceland accepts credit cards. Perhaps more than in other places you’ve traveled to. It’s so common that if you ask “does Iceland accept credit cards” to an Icelander, they may give you a funny look. Just assume they do, pull out your wallet, and pay.
Debit, Cash Or Credit Card in Iceland
So now that you know we are a country that exists in the 21st century, let’s talk about whether you should use debit, cash or a credit card in Iceland.
Credit and Debit Cards
There are a few things to keep in mind if you plan on paying mostly with plastic while here. The first is that there are actually two types: a card with a chip and a pin card. Chip cards are common in Europe and have a little electronic chip that stores your banking information. Sometimes you insert them and other times you simply touch them to the machine for payment. PIN cards require you to enter your PIN in order to make a purchase and are more common in the United States.
Using Credit Cards in Iceland
When you use your credit card, you may have a chip card, a PIN card, or they might need your signature. Whichever mode of payment you choose, make sure to talk to your bank or credit card company beforehand. Check if they charge commissions or foreign transaction fees. You don’t want to come home to unexpected charges on your monthly statement.
Where in Iceland are Credit Cards Accepted?
When you land on our fair shores, you’ll be pleased to find that both debit cards and credit cards can be used to pay for just about anything. Whether it’s spending a few bucks at a souvenir shop or filling up at Icelandic gas stations, this payment method is ubiquitous.
The Best Credit Card to Use in Iceland
There isn’t really a “best” credit card to use in Iceland as most outlets accept all of the major credit cards. If you can use your card in most places, you can use it in Iceland without worry. If you’re wondering what credit cards are accepted in Iceland, you can use your American Express, MasterCard, or Visa credit card in Iceland without issues or problems.
Keeping Cash Around as a Backup
I understand if you feel a little bit of anxiety about not carrying any money on you during road trips. When you’re in a foreign country, it helps to have some local currency just in case. You never know, right? If your Iceland taxi won’t take a credit card, you’ll be in big trouble with an irate Icelandic cabbie.
The exchange rates at currency exchange bureaus usually isn’t that great, so I’d recommend taking money directly out of the ATM. This advice assumes the fees aren’t astronomically high.
The Almighty Iceland Credit Card PIN
While it’s true that cards are widely accepted all over the island, there is something crucial to know. In Iceland, credit card PIN numbers are necessary to flex your muscles when putting down plastic. While having a PIN is a no-brainer for debit card holders, someone with a chip and signature card might be surprised when asked for one.
Credit card companies issue PIN numbers to cardholders when they first get their cards. You might not remember this, but you received a letter in the mail separate from your card with a PIN on it. You probably tucked this sheet of paper away somewhere and completely forgot about it because with credit cards, you typically sign. As a result, most credit card users have no idea what their code is.
The problem is that in Iceland, a credit card PIN is necessary to use your card. Talk to your credit card company in advance to find out the number. They’ll likely mail you the little piece of paper again, so allow ample lead time to receive it before your flight.
At an Iceland gas station, your credit card PIN is necessary to fill up at the pump.
Car Rental in Iceland Without a Credit Card
This is another primary concern of most travelers. When visiting the websites of car rental companies, they all mention leaving some sort of guarantee or deposit via credit card. So can you rent car in Iceland without a credit card? I’ll be perfectly honest; it is a bit difficult. As this is standard industry practice, nearly all of the companies do it and there are very few exceptions.
The way it works is that you have to provide a credit card number for imprint (it can be yours of one of your passengers). Please note that the car rental companies don’t block an amount or charge the card in any way. It’s more just to have the card as a precautionary measure. Then when you return from your trip, they check the car for damage. If there is anything not covered by insurance, it gets charged to the card.
This also applies to any speeding tickets or fines you incur, so be sure to always follow the speed limit.
Car Hire in Iceland with No Credit Card – What are the Alternatives?
So what do you do if you don’t have a Visa, MasterCard, or American Express at your disposal? If neither you nor any of your travel companions have access to a major credit card, there are a couple of things you can do.
Some car rental companies will allow you to put down a very large deposit in lieu of a credit card guarantee. When I say large, I mean possibly the cost of your rental, which might be prohibitively high.
The other option is to pay for the full insurance coverage on your vehicle. Sometimes opting for the complete package will give the company peace of mind with your rental. Double check with your car rental provider to see if they will work with you on the no credit card issue.
Debit and Credit Cards in Iceland
The main takeaway is that if you are using a credit card in Iceland, make sure you know your PIN. You really can use them just about everywhere as long as you have that valuable little 4-digit code. We accept major cards like Amex, Visa, and MasterCard. And if you want to rent a car, the easiest option if for either you or someone that you are traveling with to present a valid credit card upon pickup.