Stonegate becomes first US bank to issue debit cards for use in Cuba

Posted: 23-Nov-15 15:13

For the first time in history, citizens and residents of the United States travelling to Cuba will be able to use debit cards instead of cash in restaurants, cafes, shops or hotels. The service will be set up with the mediation of Mastercard and it's possible that it could be ready by the beginning of 2016.

Stonegate becomes first US bank to issue debit cards for use in Cuba

Stonegate Bank of Pompano (Florida) will become pioneers in the industry as the first US-based bank to offer a debit card service for travellers to Cuba; as revealed by officials from the island and the United States last week.

At present, American citizens and residents can only purchase goods and services using cash during their visits to Cuba, even though the amount of money that they can spend daily in the island is no longer restricted since January, when the Obama administration announced a set of new regulations that further relaxed travel regulations for the Caribbean country.

As part of those announcements the White House established that nationals from the US would be able to use credit and debit cards in Cuba; but so far banks had hesitated to jump in the bandwagon despite the change in legislation.

This kind of financial activity is permitted despite the economic embargo (a group of sanctions that restricts the development of business between both nations) that is imposed by the US on the island since 1960.

The agreement is of high importance for improving commercial exchanges between Cuba and the US, and also for facilitating the injection of capital to Cuba’s sluggish economy.

Regardless of the governmental announcement, no financial American institution had made the necessary moves to make it into a viable reality until now. Stonegate in particular waited for more than 10 months for stepping forward, even when Mastercard revealed its readiness for exploring the Cuban market shortly after governmental regulations were announced in January.

Stonegate president and CEO Dave Seleski said last week that this agreement could be considered:

“...another step in normalising commercial relations between the two countries.”

Mr Seleski also commented:

“Hopefully more issuing banks will help this process by approving credit and debit cards as well.”

The bank based in Florida is the first form its country in declaring publicly its motivation for starting financial activities in Cuba. Last July Stonegate established a collaboration with the International Bank of Commerce (Banco Internacional de Comercio S.A.), giving birth to the largest financial deal between a US company and a Cuban institution since the negotiations started.

But ATMs in the island cannot process transactions from this kind of debit card yet, so American visitors in Cuba will have to wait until next year for using the new service.

In its official press release, the Stonegate bank warns their cardholders about their motives to visit Cuba saying:

“...will need to ensure they are traveling under one of the 12 categories authorized by U.S. regulations, including religious and professional purposes.”

Since March 2015 MasterCard removed its block on US cards being used in Cuba but for their usage to become more widespread (or an effective reality like with Stonegate now) individual banks need to jump into the scheme, as federal rules left the final decision to banks whether they authorise their customers to use their cards in Cuba or not.

Early this year the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued general licenses within 12 categories of authorised travel to Cuba that previously required specific licenses. Thanks to this arranging travel to Cuba by ordinary Americans citizens is a much more straightforward and hassle-free process.


Popular Holidays in cuba

OUR EXCLUSIVE DEALS AND LATEST OFFERS

Best Value

From £599 per person
villa pinares de mayari

Villa Pinares De Mayari

4.0 stars

Beautifully perched on the panoramic Mensura Hill, surrounded by striking greenery, this blessed and secluded natural...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £619 per person
villa mirador de mayabe

Villa Mirador De Mayabe

2.0 stars

This enchanting villa hotel is surrounded by exuberant tropical plants and is perfectly located in a high point towering...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £679 per person
sercotel club cayo guillermo

Sercotel Club Cayo Guillermo

3.0 stars

The perfect haven for lovers of nature in its purest state, the Villa Cojimar hotel sits in an idyllic location amidst...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £679 per person
club amigo atlantico guardalavaca

Club Amigo Atlantico Guardalavaca

3.0 stars

Get away to one of Cuba's best kept secrets for a dream holiday at Club Amigo Atlantico. Guardalavaca is known to host...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £679 per person
tryp cayo coco

Tryp Cayo Coco

4.0 stars

The perfect beach holiday awaits you the all-inclusive Tryp Cayo Coco hotel, where non-stop entertainment and utmost...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £699 per person
memories holguin

Memories Holguin

4.0 stars

Enjoy a perfect beach setting while you unwind in the historic sands of the all-inclusive Memories Holguin. A short...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation

More deals


Explore cuba your way

Tailor made cuba holidays

For those who prefer to travel at their own pace or to explore places not included in the brochure itineraries, we have years of experience at organising tailor-made holidays.

Create the perfect trip with the help of our specialists

Our expert tour consultants will be pleased to suggest ideas to complement your own and to organise the most appropiate programme to suit your interests, time and budget.

Call 0207 644 1600
to speak with our award-winning travel consultants.

If you would like a member of our team to contact you back, please click here Contact us