You may or may not know that there is an an issue happening with foreign bank cards and ATM service in the Belize Banks right now. If you are an expat or traveler this applies to you.
This information could save you from a few heart palpitations and stress.
Not too long ago, I had my Canadian card swallowed at the Heritage Bank ATM and just figured I was having an off day. When I went to the bank I found out that it was a standard thing for now (not sure for how long) that any foreign cards that are unfortunate enough to make their way to the ATM will get snacked on by the plastic hungry Heritage machine. As I understand it, their official procedure is to send it back to the bank where the card is from. Thankfully I got there fast and was able to get my card back without involving Canada.
Current ATM Status on Ambergris Caye
- Atlantic Bank ATM on Front Street before the clock tower will accept foreign bank cards.
- Scotia Bank ATM on Coconut Drive Across from Tropic Air will accept foreign bank cards. (Note this is bank is not connected to the Canadian One)
- Belize Bank will offer you a cash advance with a foreign credit card but you cannot currently use it in the machine for withdrawals.
- Heritage Bank ATM will swallow your card and you will have to go to the bank during daytime hours to try and retrieve it (or risk having it sent back to your bank).
If there is no Plus or Cirrus sign then use the machine with caution.
An alternative option to banks is “All Things ATM” located at in town Doc’ks Tiki Bar & Grill, (formerly Licks Beachside Cafe) Marks Shopping Center in Boca Del Rio, and Super Buy South. As they are an independent company, the service fee is slightly higher then some of the banks but in a pinch it could be worth it.
I hope this will help save someone the fate of feeling crestfallen at getting no cash from the bank (the messages are not always clear why) or worse getting their card sucked up by the machine. Note this can also happen if you are too slow in getting your cash or card out from the machine after finishing your transaction.
14 thoughts on “Helpful Tips and Issues With ATM Use at Belize Banks”
Sorry, that happened Cathleen, I have only ever had Heritage swallow a foreign card from me.
Hit or miss on issue Dan. Not all banks still accept chip cards here. Mine always did, a couple of months back I started having trouble getting my Canadian bank card to read but something invisible happened and it is back to normal.
Is this still an issue or have things changed in the last few years?
Argh! I wish I had known this 6 months ago, when this happened to me. My card (mastercard) was first swallowed by the Scotia Bank ATM in San Ignacio, but I was able to get it back and was told it was a machine error. Then I tried the Belize Bank ATM in Benque, which also swallowed my card. I was told it was because my card had been reported stolen, and was unable to get it back– and since I hadn’t reported it stolen, it was confusing for all. I ended up with the hassle of having to cancel the card and get a new one– from the US. So add that to your list- the Scotia Bank ATM in Cayo and the Belize Bank ATM in Benque.
Good to know Arthur. I am glad there was a good karma person near by to help you get where you needed to go.
Please let your readers know that the airport on caye Caulker does not handle foreign credit or debit cards.
We were rescued by a lovely American woman who payed cash for tickets for my wife and myself and wished us a Happy Thanksgiving. We were able to pay her back in Belize City and just made our international connections.
I would be willing to bet it would be a similar situation country wide if all bank branches are standardized on the sane kind of machines at each bank Rebs.
Thanks for the helpful information. Do you know how ATMs down south are? ie Punta Gorda?
There are still two good banks to use ATM cards at right now Janelle. I would say that a mix is not a bad idea, though personally I might not do travelers checks and just go with American money and bank and a credit card, Any money you get here is usually going to be Belize Currency from ATM or your change when spending. It is really up to the individual though as what works best for them.
For paypal cards I I am guessing it would depend if the cards have a chip on them or not in regards to the Belize Bank ATM. Paypal cards should work fine at Atlantic and Scotia Bank.
So, would you suggest travellers cheques or US dollars or Belizian Bucks as an alternative?
Yikes! Is this only for Canadian Card holders or Americans too? Do you think it affects Paypal debit cards issued in the US?
Glad you found it useful Moose. Trying to save as many people as I can from the card eating machine – similar to the Kite eating tree that always got Charlie Brown in the Peanuts comics 🙂
great info laurie….thanks.