Posted by: Ali | September 28, 2009

Credit Cards

So do you guys remember the Visa advertising campaign with the slogan “Visa: All you need”?  Here is a sample to refresh your memory.

It is a LIE!!  A big fat dirty smelly lie!

Remember the good ol’ days back in Canada when credit cards were more hassle than they were worth?  I recall seeing a comedian recently who said that the shopkeeper would glare at you and pull out the big “kathunk-athunk” machine and get a carbon copy of your card, and call the credit card company to see if they really authorized it… and stuff like that.  I don’t remember the skit but if someone could find it for me that would be AWESOME.

Well Peru is kinda like that.  Credit cards are in their early stages here, there’s actually a pretty big push to get people to have credit cards.  But trying to use them is no fun.  I haven’t actually tried yet, but I’ve seen people trying to pay with them at the supermarket.  You have to give them your card and some photo ID, and the teller examines both of them carefully and squints at you, tries to make sure your cards are not fake, then swipes the card using three different machines, then you have to sign twice, then after you sign a receipt they feed the receipt back through some machine that stamps it or something, then they print out an extra copy of your receipt (the one that is itemized and says what you bought) and staple it to a copy of the credit card receipt that you signed (which says your credit card number and the amount), and they keep that, I guess in case it turns out you stole some mangoes they will know how many mangoes you stole.

For a foreigner like me, I know that you need a copy of your passport, since you don’t have official Peruvian ID, and I would not be surprised if they decided to keep this passport photocopy as well!

So if you listen to these Visa ads literally… good luck!


  1. I don’t know If I said it already but …Excellent site, keep up the good work. I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..Jim Bean

  2. Not the least bit surprising. Credit card forgery and use of stolen cards remains one of the most prevalent crimes in all of Latin America. Easy to do, too.

    In Canada, at the end of a meal, you give the waiter your card, and he comes back with the bill to sign. In LatAm, that never happens. About the only places I know that are “normal” when it comes to credit cards in LatAm are large car rental agencies (like Budget & Hertz) and in large, expensive business hotels (where they have your ID anyway).

    The solution is cash. Painful, yes, but cash nonetheless. Yes, there’s a possibility you could get robbed, but why you, when there are so many others? Unless you’re out buying a TV, your strategy is to carry enough cash to do what you need to do. If it does get taken, big deal, it’s $100.

    So your challenge is to have enough cash at all times somehow stashed in your room so you don’t have to get more every day by going to a bank or something. And to keep that cash secure.

  3. Generally I do not post on blogs, but I would like to say that this post really forced me to do so, Excellent post!


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