One of the first things people wonder when traveling to the Azores islands is whether they will use their bank cards from the United States or Canada. The answer is yes! The Azores have modernized over the last decade and are not the small islands that only emigrants visit on their holidays. The Azores are becoming one of Europe’s most exotic island destination, with countless international awards for its unique eco-system. Here there are bank machines in almost every village, town, and city in the region.
They are called “MultiBanco,” and here you can withdraw money from your chequing, savings, or credit card. The machines are like in North America and will allow you to convert at the moment to the current exchange rate, which will show you on the screen or ask your credit card to make the conversion after the withdrawal. It is recommended that you notify your bank that you are traveling to the Azores before your departure to ensure that you have no issues using your card abroad. The majority of the stores on the islands take bank cards from North American banks. You have to notify the clerk that you are paying with a card from Canada or the USA. If they don’t speak English, which is rare but possible in small villages, say what country you are from and point at your card, they will understand. The reason for this is because they have to use a separate machine for North American cards and have them readily available, so do not hesitate to pay with your bank card or credit card.
There are many currency locations throughout the island’s capital to convert currency. Now they don’t let you walk into a bank and convert currency without having an account with that bank. The rule of thumb, you can always use your bank and credit cards to withdraw money, so carry the cash you think you will need, and if you need more, it is available. The fees for withdrawals abroad depend on your bank and can range from 2 dollars to 5 dollars per transaction, so it is up to you to check with your bank first the fees they charge.
Another option is that on the island of Sao Miguel, the largest island in the Azores, they have Western Union and MoneyGram available. This is perfect in case you lose your bank card. As long as you have your passport or ID, you can pick up money at one of the locations they have in Ponta Delgada, Ribeira Grande, Lagoa, or Villa Franca. There are more Western Union options available in Ponta Delgada as it is the capital city. All you have to do is look up a Western Union location online and the hours of operation. Then you fill out your name and necessary information and the sender’s information and the Money Transfer Control Number, referred to as MTCN. This is necessary to receive your money and is provided to the sender online or in-person right after paying for the money transfer. This can be done in minutes, and your money can be available right away for pickup.