Credit Card Use
Visa and Mastercard are accepted at most hotels and some restaurants. American Express is only accepted at a few hotels. Discover is not accepted anywhere in Panama.
You need to call your credit or debit card company to let them know you will be traveling in Panama. If you try to use your card without calling them first, they will probably shut down your card assuming it is an illegal transaction.
The less expensive the hotel or restaurant, the less likely that they will accept a credit card. Most street vendors only accept cash. Taxi drivers only accept cash ( and will always say they don’t have change)
Panama uses the US dollar. All bills will be in US dollars. Coins will be a mix of US and Panamanian.
How Much Cash To Bring
Panama is a CASH based society.. meaning that most things are paid for with cash. Only 5% of Panamanians even own a credit card. Though debit cards are used at some places.
We suggest that you bring about $100 cash per person, per day for your trip to Panama. A couple coming on the tour and staying an extra 5 days before or after the tour, should bring $1000 in cash. ($200 x 5 days = $1,000. Make sure the bills are crisp, clean, un-torn and as new as possible.
Or bring less cash then use an ATM machine in Panama to get additional cash. ATM machines are readily available but there will be a $5.25 international fee plus what ever your bank charges.
Of course, during the tour your hotels and meals are paid for. But the extra cash will be used for purchases before or after the tour. Or for extra things you might purchase during the tour.
Do not bring $100 or $50 bills. Most places will not accept them and the few who do will want to see your passport and require that you fill out a lot of paperwork. It is best to bring smaller bills, $1, $5, $10, $20s.
If you plan to open a bank account during the tour, you will need $1500 cash. We will send out the requirements for opening a bank account 30 days before your tour.