Money in Panama

Credit cards and currency exchange

Money in Panama

Though Panama is a cash orientated society many expats find a credit card invaluable. This article will give you an overview of banking, ATMs, credit cards and exchange.

Credit cards

Panama is mainly a cash economy and credit cards are only accepted in some hotels, shops, and restaurants. Outside of Panama City credit cards are seldom used and cash is usually the only accepted tender for transactions. Depending on where you are, you might not even be able to find ATMs.

 MasterCard and Visa are the most common cards, however, American Express is also accepted in a number of places.


There are about 300 ATMs in Panama City. They work on the Cirrus/Plus system. However, some may not accept cards with the Interlink symbol. As mentioned above, you should always carry cash with you, especially small bills as businesses might not be able to make change for larger bills.

Bank opening hours

In Panama, the opening hours differ from bank to bank. During the week, most banks open until 3.00pm, and some stay open until 7.00pm. On Saturdays, most of the banks are open until noon or 1.30pm.

Currency exchange

Foreign currency can be obtained at several places in Panama City. You can go to banks, which are recommended as they usually offer good rates, or to cambios, which are mainly found in the tourist areas. However, exercise caution with cambios, as their rates are usually not favourable.

Outside Panama City, you will not find many places to exchange foreign currency outside of banks. Even then, the service is scarce.

Further reading

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