Debit and Credit Cards in Iceland: Essential Info

Debit and credit cards in Iceland
When coming to Iceland, credit card users often wonder if they can use plastic as a means of payment. Cash is always welcome, but are chip cards or signature cards easily usable in places like gas stations? And what about car rental? There are a lot of questions surrounding Iceland credit cards, so we thought we’d tackle the most common ones. 

Iceland Credit Card Info: What You Need to Know

In Iceland, your credit card and debit card are going to be your best friend. But many people aren't sure about car rentals or if credit cards are commonly used throughout the country. 

Where are Iceland Credit Cards Accepted?

So does Iceland accept credit cards? The answer is yes, absolutely! We are a fully modernized country and Icelanders use credit cards to pay for pretty much everything. You can even use a credit card at the famous Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur hot dog 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, 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 should you. 

Cash or Credit Card in Iceland

If a cash-free existence makes you a little uncomfortable, it’s understandable. After all, what if your Iceland taxi credit card machine is broken? Or the coffee shop doesn’t accept cards when you need a pick-me-up? If you feel the need to carry a little bit of the local currency around with you, even just for buying souvenirs, that makes complete sense. Talk 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 króna 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 króna currency. 

What Not to Do

Whether you choose to get cash at the ATM or pick up some bills and banknotes at your local bank, there’s something I highly recommend you avoid. Many travelers will get money from the currency exchange bureaus at the airport, but this is probably the worst thing you can do. The exchange rates they offer are really 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 steer clear. 

Your Iceland Credit Card Pin: Get One Before You Leave

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. Even at the Iceland gas station, a credit card PIN is necessary. 

PIN numbers are something quite familiar to anyone with a debit card or a chip and pin card. But many who use a credit card or a chip and signature card are often surprised to learn that credit cards also have PINs. They are used to get a cash advance in many places but also in some countries when you travel abroad. 

When you first got your shiny, new credit card in the mail, a few days later it was followed by a separate envelope enclose with your four-digit PIN. You most likely tucked away this little piece of paper and promptly forgot about it. The thing is, in order to use your credit card, you’ll need to have that PIN. 

It’s likely that you either don’t know your PIN or don’t remember where you put that paper. 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. 

The Best Credit Card to Use in Iceland

Cards are widely accepted everywhere, so you shouldn’t have too many issues using your card. By far the best credit card to use in Iceland is a card from one of the major credit card companies like American Express, Visa and MasterCard. If you’re carrying one of these three, you’ll almost certainly not have a problem. 

You also want to check to make sure that you don’t get charged foreign transaction fees while using your card abroad. The last thing you want is a nasty surprise awaiting you on your bank statement when you return home from your Iceland vacation. The country is already expensive enough, let’s not add insult to injury. 

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. Driving in Iceland is unlike driving anywhere else, and the car rental companies need to know that the cars in their fleet are protected. 

Some drivers also rack up speeding fines during their trip, and these get charged back to the card. 

But what happens if neither you nor anyone traveling with you has a credit card? You will be able to rent a car in Iceland without a credit card, just be prepared to pay for it. 

How to Rent a Car in Iceland Without a Credit Card

You have a couple of options at your disposal if you don’t have a credit card to use on your rental. Whichever rental company you choose, they want to work with you on this issue. The first thing you can do is get the full insurance package or full insurance coverage. It’s 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 the country’s South Coast, where volcanic activity has caused there to be plenty of ash and sand. There are ash storms and sand storms that could damage your vehicle. Lastly, you’re also protected in the event of theft. 

The other route you can go 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. Pricewise, you’ll need to weigh your options to see which is a better fit for you. Talk to your car rental company in Iceland to see what their policy is and what you’ll need to do. 

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. 

Debit and Credit Cards in Iceland: Essential Info

So it’s definitely possible to use your card in Iceland. Credit and debit cards are a very common way to pay for things and you’ll fit right in with the locals. Road trips in Iceland are the best way to see the country, and worrying about money should be one of the last things on your mind. Rest easy knowing that your debit card or credit card will be just fine as long as you have your PIN with you. 

Reykjavik Auto
June 2019