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Monday, August 22, 2005

Harsh New USA Credit Card Rules Take Effect

If you have a credit card from the USA, you had better plan to pay it all off now according to this post on Heidi Allen's blog!

Many ex-pats living in Costa Rica have credit cards from the U.S.A. We use them to withdraw money from our bank accounts in the US via automatic teller machines and for making purchases over the Internet such as airline tickets, medications, and a myriad of other products not available here. If Ms. Allen's blog information is correct (and it appears to be well documented), we had all better plan to pay off our USA credit cards and find alternatives ASAP. Visa and MasterCard credit cards can be issued by Costa Rican banks. The banks I have consulted, however, require that you have a certificate of deposit or "plazo fijo" for at least 120% of the credit card limit. For example, if you have a plazo fijo for $1000 (the minimum), you can get a credit card with a limit of 80% of that, or $800. Without the plazo fijo your only alternative is to find a "fiador" who is a person with enough money in the bank in the form of a plazo fijo who will guarantee payment of the debt. There is a considerable amount of bureaucratic red tape involved in the transactions.

Does anyone out there know whether it is possible to get a recognized credit card from a European country or from Panama? What are our possible alternatives?

Now that it appears Costa Rica will be changing all of its financial and social welfare structures to meet the requirements of CAFTA, what affect will that have on our savings and checking accounts, our debit cards, and the possibilities of getting credit cards?

Please use the comment board on the bottom right of this page to give information, ask questions, clarify, etc.


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I live on the Pacific slopes of the Talamanca mountain range in southern Costa Rica. My adult children live in the United States. I have a Masters Degree in Gerontology but have worked as a migrant laborer, chicken egg collector, radio broadcaster, secretary, social worker, research director, bureaucrat, writer, editor, political organizer, publicist, telephone operator, and more. My hobby of photography has garnered some awards.

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